As President Donald Trump has continued engaging in tit-for-tat rhetoric with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, his administration has been weighing the possibility of a limited strike against the country.
This "bloody nose" strategy would strike a blow, hopefully without sparking full blown war.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Trump administration officials are “quietly debating whether it’s possible to mount a limited military strike against North Korean sites without igniting an all-out war on the Korean Peninsula.”
How would such an attack play out?
Dennis Wilder, a former top CIA analyst, says there are many options that could be interpreted as a kick in the shin or a bloody nose. They include striking a military facility such as an air base or naval facility not associated with the ICBM programme, destroying one of Mr. Kim’s homes, hitting a key part of the missile programme or targeting a missile during a test launch.
“Presumably, such a strike would be a one-off attack that is immediately followed-up by a presidential announcement that this is a warning shot and nothing more,” says Mr. Wilder.
But Trump officials are not in agreement as to the feasibility of such a military strike:
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis [are] focused on using diplomacy to curtail North Korea’s nuclear program, and National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster [is] arguing that it’s time to consider military options as well.
Even without the threat of nuclear weapons, North Korea could do significant damage should it choose to retaliate. Former NATO supreme allied commander James Stavridis believes no options exist that "would result in fewer than several hundred thousand casualties and perhaps as many as 2 million to 3 million.”