Imagine a world where one country – country X – is bombing at least seven countries at any one time and is seeking to bomb an eighth, all the while threatening an adversarial ninth state – country Y – that they will bomb that country into oblivion, as well. Imagine that in this world, country X already bombed country Y back into the Stone Age several decades ago, which directly led to the current adversarial nature of the relationship between the two countries.
Now imagine that country Y, which is currently bombing no one and is concerned mostly with well-founded threats against its own security, threatens to retaliate in the face of this mounting aggression if country X attacks them first. On top of all this, imagine that only country Y is portrayed in the media as a problem and that country X is constantly given a free pass to do whatever it pleases.
Now replace country X with the United States of America and country Y with North Korea to realize there is no need to imagine such a world. It is the world we already live in.
As true as all of this is, the problem is constantly framed as one caused by North Korea alone, not the United States. "How to Deal With North Korea," the Atlantic explains. "What Can Trump Do About North Korea?" the New York Times asks. "What Can Possibly Be Done About North Korea," the Huffington Post queries. Time provides 6 experts discussing "How We Can Solve the Problem" (of North Korea). "North Korea – what can the outside world do?" asks the BBC.
That being said, some reports have framed the issue in completely different terms. In an article entitled "The Game is Over and North Korea Has Won," Foreign Policy's Jeffrey Lewis explains that the United States should accept North Korea's nuclear ambitions and pursue other courses of action:
The big question is where to go from here. Some of my colleagues still think the United States might persuade North Korea to abandon, or at least freeze, its nuclear and missile programs. I am not so sure. I suspect we might have to settle for trying to reduce tensions so that we live long enough to figure this problem out. But there is only one way to figure out who is right: Talk to the North Koreans.
Lewis explains further:
The other options are basically terrible. There is no credible military option. North Korea has some unknown number of nuclear-armed missiles, maybe 60, including ones that can reach the United States; do you really think U.S. strikes could get all of them? That not a single one would survive to land on Seoul, Tokyo, or New York? Or that U.S. missile defenses would work better than designed, intercepting not most of the missiles aimed at the United States, but every last one of them? Are you willing to bet your life on that?
It's also worth mentioning that Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul Selva, already testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that experts tell him North Korea does not have "the capacity to strike the US with any degree of accuracy or reasonable confidence of success."
Compare these observations to every single keyboard warrior on Facebook and Twitter who thinks the United States has a duty to defend itself from – and destroy – this rogue state, which is currently attacking no one else nor has any underlying reason to (especially considering that South Korea is open to talking with the North rather than relying solely on a military confrontation).
The problem with the mind-numbingly militarized approach to this conundrum is that it completely ignores the historical factors that led the United States to this crossroads in the first place.