As the U.S prepares to answer yet another illegal ICBM launch from North Korea’s belligerent leader Kim Jong Un by launching their own missile off the coast of California Wednesday, Senator Ted Cruz unveiled a specific, thoughtful and balanced approach toward dealing with the tiny country hellbent on stirring up trouble in a Tuesday op-ed at the Washington Post.
Kim’s latest successful ICBM test last week could make the entire continental United States vulnerable to a nuclear strike from Pyongyang.
We can no longer defer our response to this crisis. North Korea has demonstrated, time and again, that it may upend the tenuous armistice along the 38th parallel at any moment and drag the United States and our allies into a devastating conflict. What the United States needs now is swift action backed by a realistic strategy to secure the denuclearization and reunification of the Korean Peninsula.
Cruz’s op-ed comes just before the U.S., in a continued show of force that began Sunday when the U.S. and her allies flew bombers and fighter jets over the Korean peninsula for 10 hours, launches its own ICBM from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. The launch is a response to what analysts believe are North Korea’s new capabilities; namely, that their new missiles could come within range of the U.S. mainland.
The U.S. B-1 bombers first flew over Japanese airspace, where they were joined by two Japanese F-2 fighter jets, before flying over the Korean Peninsula with four South Korean F-15 fighter jets, U.S. Pacific Air Forces said in a statement.
The Air Force said the 10-hour mission was a direct response to North Korea’s two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests this month, the latest of which occurred Friday.
In his op-ed, Cruz acknowledges this new threat and outlines a 3-pronged approach to dealing with North Korea’s growing aggression: “effectively nullify Pyongyang’s ability to target the United States and our allies, freeze the resources that North Korea funnels to its ballistic missile and nuclear capabilities, and send a signal to disenchanted Korean Workers Party elites that they could have a future in a reunified Korea,” the Senator writes.
Cruz methodically outlines the missile defenses the U.S. and South Korea currently have in place to protect them from North Korean aggression, but suggests it may be time to look even further — into space to be exact — to prepare for the next phase of protection. He also chastises the Obama administration for caring more about striking climate deals with China than sanctioning North Korea, calls on China to step up and begin punishing Kim via trade mechanisms and asks U.S. banks to begin disentangling themselves from the North Korean “mafia state”.
The Senator also alludes to outreach of a more visceral sort: he wants to inform terrified North Korean locals and frustrated political elites that they have a future outside of Kim’s inherited authoritarian regime.
Endemic to the regime is the enduring Juche ideology that deifies the Kim family and promises reunification of Korea in a Communist utopia…
…Reauthorization of the North Korea Human Rights Act (which I am co-sponsoring) can enable the United States to reach the people of North Korea with targeted messages of hope and support, as well as examples of the freedoms we enjoy every day. We should take this a step further and begin to initiate targeted information operations focusing on North Korean political elites who, like every day North Koreans, have also felt the brunt of Kim’s paranoid persecution. We must begin to quietly signal to these elites that there is a future for them if they are prepared to do the right thing when it matters most.
Senator Cruz’s North Korea plan is at once humane, rational and appropriately strong, with a promise of even harsher response if Kim fails to back down. While North Korea’s saber rattling can be a bit disconcerting and alarming, Kim — should he force the U.S. to act and if the U.S. has adopted Cruz’s approach — should be the one alarmed.