Over the past few days I have blogged about the situation in North Korea and have offered suggestions that have been made by others, the news media, and have offered a few of my own concepts into the mix. I think that it's time that I offer my concept(s) of a response. I don't expect anyone to listen or agree, but blogging is one of those "lonely impulses of delight" that W. B. Yeates wrote of. I'm sure that the Obama Administration will chart a different course than the one I offer - but who knows? I'm an optimist.
(1) Financially isolate North Korea. Really do it and keep the pressure up. China will do what China does, but the United States needs to hold the line and try and pull the rest of the planet into lock step. Obama has burned a lot of our international capital (and George Bush did it to toward the end of his presidency) and we need to use what we have left here, in this situation. This means that the United States must show resolve.
(2) Economically quarantine North Korea. To the extent possible, we need to build an international consensus NOT to allow shipments of goods or food to North Korea. Again, China will do what China will do, however, even China has some sense of what is at stake here.
(3) Encourage South Korea to meet force with force. Chicago rules. North Korea understands it and strangely, Obama might get it too. In order to make this happen, the US needs to deploy a permanent naval presence in the Yellow Sea, (no, China won't like it - but it might remind them that THEY created and continue to sustain this North Korean monster) and on the other side of Korea in the Sea of Japan. Conclude a basing agreement with our Japanese allies that would allow for increased basing of US naval vessels and crews there.
(4) Aid our South Korean allies by declaring a quarantine on all North Korean submarines in the South Korean Naval Defensive Zone out to 12 nm. Keeping in mind that a North Korean submarine sank as South Korean destroyer in March 2010, authorize US (submarines primarily) vessels to engage and sink North Korean submarines found in that area.
(5) Increase our clandestine warfare in North Korea promoting regime change.
(6) Increase our strategic capabilities in North Korea to assist our allies in being able to meet their security needs.
The list of North Korean outrages is sufficient to justify these actions. They'll accept them at first, and simply wait for our resolve to weaken the way it always does. Obama could (in a small way) being to redeem himself by showing strength here instead of endemic weakness.
I would NOT arm South Korea with nuclear weapons, but I'd increase the number of US nuclear weapons we keep on hand in South Korea.