“We don’t want the Iranians, or North Koreans, or anyone else thinking it’s not – and if we wait for the next threat, the damage could be far worse,” Dr. Suri argues. “The safest thing to do is to destroy this weapon on the launchpad.”
It is an argument that Suri made in a New York Times op-ed on Friday entitled, “Bomb North Korea, Before It’s Too Late.”
“President Obama should state clearly and forthrightly that this is an act of self-defense in response to explicit threats from North Korea and clear evidence of a prepared weapon,” Suri writes.
“And he should explain that this is a limited defensive strike on a military target – an operation that poses no threat to civilians – and that America does not intend to bring about regime change. The purpose is to neutralize a clear and present danger. That is all,” he writes.
Suri says that the feedback he has received on his piece has run the spectrum, from those who accuse him of being a warmonger to US military planners sympathetic to the idea.
“A lot are frustrated that we’re playing this game with North Korea every year,” he says.
The consequences of a strike could be dire, Suri concedes. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could decide, for example, to fire off some of the thousands of artillery rounds in his possession toward Seoul, South Korea, potentially killing tens of thousands of people.
But there’s some likelihood that Kim will instead “save face at home by saying, ‘Look, we’re so important that they have to attack us’ and retaliate instead on a smaller scale,” Suri says.
This might include “trying to assassinate someone in South Korea or attacking an island” – in other words, one of the responses they have tried in the past.