Why Retaliation Against Seoul Should Not Stop US Military Action Against North Korea

Here is what strategist Edward Luttwak has to say about conducting a military strike against North Korea:

Edward Luttwak

One mistaken reason to avoid attacking North Korea is the fear of direct retaliation. The U.S. intelligence community has reportedly claimed that North Korea already has ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads that can reach as far as the United States. But this is almost certainly an exaggeration, or rather an anticipation of a future that could still be averted by prompt action. The first North Korean nuclear device that could potentially be miniaturized into a warhead for a long-range ballistic missile was tested on September 3, 2017, while its first full-scale ICBM was only tested on November 28, 2017. If the North Koreans have managed to complete the full-scale engineering development and initial production of operational ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads in the short time since then — and on their tiny total budget — then their mastery of science and engineering would be entirely unprecedented and utterly phenomenal. It is altogether more likely that they have yet to match warheads and missiles into an operational weapon.

It’s true that North Korea could retaliate for any attack by using its conventional rocket artillery against the South Korean capital of Seoul and its surroundings, where almost 20 million inhabitants live within 35 miles of the armistice line. U.S. military officers have cited the fear of a “sea of fire” to justify inaction. But this vulnerability should not paralyze U.S. policy for one simple reason: It is very largely self-inflicted.

When then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter decided to withdraw all U.S. Army troops from South Korea 40 years ago (ultimately a division was left behind), the defense advisors brought in to help — including myself — urged the Korean government to move its ministries and bureaucrats well away from the country’s northern border and to give strong relocation incentives to private companies. South Korea was also told to mandate proper shelters, as in Zurich for example, where every new building must have its own (under bombardment, casualties increase dramatically if people leave their homes to seek shelter). In recent years, moreover, South Korea has had the option of importing, at moderate cost, Iron Dome batteries, which are produced by both Israel and the United States, that would be capable of intercepting 95 percent of North Korean rockets headed to inhabited structures.

But over these past four decades, South Korean governments have done practically nothing along these lines. The 3,257 officially listed “shelters” in the Seoul area are nothing more than underground shopping malls, subway stations, and hotel parking lots without any stocks of food or water, medical kits or gas masks. As for importing Iron Dome batteries, the South Koreans have preferred to spend their money on developing a bomber aimed at Japan.  [Foreign Policy]

You can read more at the link, but he believes that possible retaliation against Seoul should not influence US decision making because it is a problem caused by ROK governmental irresponsibility over the decades.



I am a US military veteran that has served all over the world to include in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea. I have been blogging about Korea, Northeast Asia, and the US military for over 10 years.


  1. This is strange. The only reason nK is targeting the US is we are in South Korea, the reason we are in South Korea is to prevent the north from attacking South. (Also, apparently he is saying a South Korean life is worthless than an American.) But if we risk South Korea being attacked doesn’t that seem to nullify the reason the US is in South Korea in the first place? Very strange, and I bet he doesn’t live in Seoul….

  2. Once again, I will say it, attack during Chusok or Lunar New Year to avoid massive casualties. These two times of the year, Seoul and all points north are literally deserted as people head south to the provinces to visit relatives’ graves.

    This plan would require stealthy build up of U.S. forces along the DMZ and the deployment of enough air power and sea power to counter any north Korean response. After the initial barrage, the north would be ripe for the pickens.

  3. ก็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็ ChickeกิิิิิิิิิิิิิิิิิิิิHead ก้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้

    Did this crazy motherfúcker go on a 4 day meth bender and read my mind?

    No. Probably not.

    He is simply right.

    Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama lollygagged along… but it is not quite too late.

    Cruise missile leadership during the next parade. Carpet bomb North Korea… cities, factories, farms, research centers, reactor.

    Kill everyone and everything before they get a functioning deliverable nuke.

    America First.

    If they attack South Korea, so what. South Korea had plenty of time to manage this. They didn’t. Not America’s problem. America’s problem is making sure nobody can nuke it.

    …and the response is so incredibly harsh that all the other aspiring nukers think again.

    Russia doesn’t like it? Eat snow, trees, alexandrite, and shít. Japan doesn’t like it? Eat sushi and shít. South Korea doesn’t like it? Too bad. Eat shit. China doesn’t like it? No more importing your shít. Then eat shít.

    Oh. Wait. You don’t really care about North Korea as much as you thought? You would rather keep the status quo?

    O.K. carry on.

  4. I am not a fan of starting a war; but it might be time to end the Korean War. I just wish my wife’s family lived further south.

  5. Like I said in the past, back in the early ’70s Presient Park (the daddy) didn’t want any new construction north of the Han river. Maybe the left can blame all the building on his daughter and charge her with that too.

  6. ก็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็ ChickeกิิิิิิิิิิิิิิิิิิิิHead ก้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้

    No… it’s me.

    …but I am digging my new name…

    …though it only shines through on an Android phone… seemingly not on a PC.

  7. CH is going for the Master of Disguise category?

    Mind you, it is rather amusing that they resemble heads of some type of fowl.

  8. Some type of fowl? That’s not what I see. And I’m seeing it both on my Android, and on my PC.

    Is that a Thai font you’re using, CH?

  9. My. Someone forgot to eat their Wheaties today. How sad must their lives be?

  10. ก็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็ ChickeกิิิิิิิิิิิิิิิิิิิิHead ก้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้

    It always gives me a bit of a thrill when people share their deepest sexual fantasies about me.

    But the ending kind of killed it for me… as ISIS isn’t really a thing anymore. Trump pretty much ended them.

    Moving from the sexy possibilities of reality to unrealistic fantasy is a boner-killer. It’s like saying you wished a Zeppilin would fall on my family… just doesn’t work except maybe for guys who fap to hentai.

    Can you kindly post again with a more complete discription of how you will desecrate my corpse with your own bodily fluids?

  11. Trump is a wuss. He will not order any pre-emptive strikes on the DPRK.

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