This time dealing with North Korea is different. Sept 19th Trump addresses UN General Assembly in NYC. We will then learn if the global community unites to prevent war.
Sec Mattis is not saber rattling. The Pentagon presented real military options to Trump. There is a strategic window of opportunity closing on North Korea.
First--The central question is "will we live with North Korea as a nuclear power with ICBM's and SLBM's." If the answer is no ....then we are moving toward a military strike. They will never give up this program. Our defensive missile systems are good but inadequate to guarantee US and allied safety.
Second--DPRK does not yet posses a credible nuclear force. They are rapidly closing the deal. Pick a year. In 3-5-10 years they will have 150 deliverable city busting weapons. Road mobile. Solid fuel. Hidden in caves. One or more diesel missile subs at sea.
Third--We will NEVER accept fighting a conventional war against North Korea with a backdrop of a real DPRK nuke force. The South Korean 700,000 man military and US Naval and air power would destroy the 1.1 million man NKPA rapidly in a six month conventional campaign. However, civilian losses in both North and South as well as Japan would be catastrophic.
Fourth--An initial US limited conventional strike on DPRK nuke sites and missile launchers would likely be followed by a massive NKPA artillery counter-strike on Seoul. At that point I believe the US would likely pre-empt with a nuclear strike. 10-70 weapons designed to guarantee we eliminate a nuclear response by DPRK on South Korea, Guam, HAWAII, and US forces based in Japan.
TRAGEDY. DISASTER. KJU young. Untested. Afraid of his Generals. Likely to think we will not risk a US city. Thinks US will be forced to fight a bloody conventional war. Will believe US will cede the issue and accept DPRK legitimization as a nuclear power.
This is a steadily eroding US position. Trump is boxing himself in with public aggressive rhetoric. He is destabilizing South Korea as an ally with his economic threats.
Both China and Russia dislike the thought of war on their borders ---but RECOGNIZE THEY ARE NOT IN THE LINE OF FIRE. China also does not believe we would risk severe economic sanctions against them.
Mattis, Kelly, and McMaster will look for a way out. US is NOT now postured to fight. Trump erratic and perceived as politically weak by DPRK and China.
Hard to know where this is going.