Bloody Noses and Black Eyes: What's in a Limited Strike on North Korea?

Feb 8, 2018 | 09:30 GMT

Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea.

(NARVIKK/iStock/Getty Images)


  • Support is building within Washington for a limited strike against North Korea over its pursuit of nuclear arms.
  • A U.S. strike could have serious ramifications but inaction is not without its risks.
  • Because of the lack of firm knowledge on North Korea's inner workings, it is impossible to deduce how Pyongyang would react to a so-called bloody nose strike.

Numerous stories are circulating once again, both in the media and in the halls of policy and punditry in Washington, Seoul and Beijing, that the United States is considering a "bloody nose" strike against North Korea. By some accounts, the U.S. administration withdrew backing from its candidate for ambassador to South Korea, Victor Cha, because of his opposition to a limited strike against Pyongyang. Other reports suggest there is an emerging cadre of "hawks" on North Korea who are expanding their influence over U.S. foreign policy, raising the likelihood of at least some form of military action. The challenge in deciphering the signals is that, with or without a planned strike, there is strong logic not only in keeping the option on the table, but also front and center in the minds of all actors in Northeast Asia....

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