The White House is considering the high-risk strategy of starting a small war with North Korea in hopes the conflict doesn’t turn into a big war, according to reports Tuesday.
Employing the so-called “bloody nose” strategy, Washington would respond to a North Korean missile test with a targeted strike against a weapons facility. This would demonstrate to the regime the power of the U.S. arsenal and the ongoing price it would pay for further weapons tests.
Advocates of the strategy contend that North Korea is unlikely to respond, out of fear of annihilation. Opponents suggest a limited strike against a nuclear-armed rival could easily lead to all-out war.
Both Donald Trump and national security adviser H.R. McMaster are pushing for a strike, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis are against the action.
However, with rumors that Tillerson is soon to be replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, the pendulum may swing in favor of the hawks.
Details of the strategy emerged the same day that North and South Korean officials met in the demilitarized zone on the border of the two countries for the first high-level diplomatic talks in more than two years.
While Trump cautiously welcomed the talks last week, he has in the past undermined diplomatic attempts, preferring to tweet bellicose rhetoric at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Even if a strike against Pyongyang didn’t result in direct reprisals from North Korea, it could spark an accidental war.
Addressing 185 ambassadors Monday, Pope Francis said there is “no denying that the conflagration could be started by some chance and unforeseen circumstance.”