North Korea tries--and fails--to nuke Hawaii. How do you want the US to respond?

Imagine that everybody’s favorite sociopathic national leader*, deciding that he’s tired of mere posturing, attempts to recreate Hiroshima. Proclaiming that this is the first step in its great war against the west, North Korea launches a nuclear missile at Honolulu. But the attack fails. Maybe the missile’s guidance system is inadequate, and it explodes short of the target and far from any inhabited area; maybe the warhead is a dud; maybe the Navy[sup]†[/sup] manages to shoot it down. The reason for the failure doesn’t really matter[sup]‡[/sup]; all that matters is that the latest Kim has threatened and attempted to reduce a US city to ashes.

How do you want the American** government[sup]††[/sup]react?

[sup]* [/sup]Persons who do not think think this is a fair description of Kim Jong Un should talk to their doctors about changing their meds. Or argue their point in the thread.
[sup]†[/sup]Yes, Navy. If Athena had intended men to fly, she would have given Odysseus talaria. And don’t get me started on the Army. Buncha wankers. Give the Army’s entire budget to the Marines, I say. Disagree? Make your point in the thread.
[sup]‡ [/sup]Or does it? I guess it might. That’s something else we can talk about that in the thread, I guess.
[sup]** [/sup]Why the American government and not the international community, you ask? You must be high, I answer. Anyway, if you think this should be an international decision, talk about it in the thread.
[sup]†† [/sup]Anybody want cobbler? I feel like making cobbler. I’m thinking peach but I could be persuaded otherwise…

Initially I was going to say, nuke 'em right back, but lots of innocent people would be killed and I don’t particularly want to see that happen. A full scale invasion of North Korea by the US and allies would be in order. Like Iraq, except with the blessing of the UN Security Council this time.

Pave North Korea.

Tries and fails?

Take the time to build a consensus within the international community. If Kim-Jong Ailin’ thinks it’s a good idea to lob nukes, there will be many other concerned nations willing to put the hurt on him. We want his government dismantled and all those responsible for the attack at the Hague to face trial for crimes against humanity.

Tries and succeeds?

It’d be very tempting to say “identify his next public appearance, wait until he’s broadcasting, and drop a tactical nuke in his lap”, but really, the above. If China doesn’t nuke him first.

Hey, where’s my lemon custard recipe?

The worst part about NK to me is, like Iran, I suspect the average citizen is a perfectly good human being. It’s just the government that’s fucked up.

So no, don’t nuke them. Disable the military, shower the people with aid and positive messages from the USA. You know, sort of like Iraq. But better.

It depends. If we can verify (and prove to the world) that it was an actual attempt to use a nuclear weapon, then a nuclear response is on the table.

If all we know is that it was an attempted attack of some sort, then we need to keep our response conventional.

In either event, the response should be swift and devastating. Picture the “Shock and Awe” portion of the Iraq war cranked up to at least 11. All suspected nuclear facilities are primary targets. Prosecuting a war all the way through regime change would have to be authorized by Congress, but POTUS has independent authority to order retaliation in the event of an attack on the U.S. to some extent. Obama will use it, and Congress will authorize further action after the first few rounds of missiles and airstrikes have taken place.

I chose the “Nuke Pyongyang” option, but really I would want the US to drop a nuke on a North Korean military base. It would be a reasonable, in-kind response, and it would serve as a warning to not try that kind of crap again.

If they actually do succeed in nuking Hawaii, then sorry North Koreans but all semblence of civility ends. The North Korean state is going to fall for that.

I hadn’t thought about this, but yeah it need to be uncontrovertable that they tried to nuke us. Like maybe the warhead exploded while the missle was still in the middle of the ocean. If it was just a malfunctioned missle that maybe had a nuke on it, then no a nuclear response would not be appropriate. But a response of some sort would be essential.

I think we would need to get South Korea on board at least. But apart from that, it’s time to bomb NK into the Stone Age and see if anyone can tell the difference.

Non-nuclear, if possible. But make sure to saturate everywhere where the Norks are building nukes and missiles, everywhere where they used to be building nukes and missiles, everywhere where they might be building nukes and missiles, everywhere where they were thinking about building nukes and missiles, everywhere where anyone lives who knows anyone who is thinking about building nukes and missiles, and then go back and do it a couple more times.

Then ask the UN to help negotiate a cease-fire.

Regards,
Shodan

PS - Mmmm, cobbler.

I wonder how the answers would change if they nuked Tokyo. Or (to get into an even more insanely unlikely, but interesting hypothetical) Beijing. (Of course, I’m talking about solely U.S. reaction; how would we want to react to an ally being attacked in such a way, or a country who’s not exactly an enemy, but has a lot of people and an uneasy relationship with us?)

A nuclear response likely wouldn’t be necessary, and it’s likely to piss off other countries for being more extreme than necessary. That said, an attempted nuking of Hawaii would be plenty to gain support from our allies, and probably even nations like China and Russia. So, there would be no need to act unilaterally.

Really, I think the larger issue wouldn’t be what kind of response is appropriate, but rather after the government fell, which would presumably be the goal, how would the cleanup go? Would we be able to help get them a democratic government or would there then be a diplomatic issue with China as they try to set up a government more like theirs?

Are we talking about a failed ICBM? Because we have a whole system in place that lets us known basically when one of those is coming, and typically U.S. military doctrine would call for the President being immediately notified. Most likely retaliatory strikes would be in the air before the missile was projected to hit Hawaii. By the time we knew definitively it was a dud, our missiles would already be on the way to North Korea.

We wouldn’t be picking random targets. We have pre-sited targets around the world, most likely I’d expect multiple nuclear and military sites in North Korea would be struck but I doubt the President would order Pyongyang (where a large percentage of NK’s civilians live) to be in the initial response.

I know it isn’t the Cold War any longer, but I don’t see any sitting American President reversing what has been the understood consequences for launching missiles at the United States for many decades now. For that deterrence to have any effect it has to be actively used when challenged. Otherwise it opens theoretical floodgates we wouldn’t want opened.

The reason Japan does not have its own nuclear shield is we have explicitly said they are covered by ours. A nuclear attack on Tokyo, at least during the cold war, was considered a nuclear attack on the United States.

This has been reiterated by President Obama as recently as 2009, when the White House released a statement saying, “…reaffirmed that the United States remains steadfast in its defense commitments to Japan, including the extended deterrence offered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella.”

Doh! I missed the checkbox. I am actually a US citizen, just don’t let me aim the missile.

I said multilateral conventional response, but that would be the work-up. An initial unilateral response is more than justified. It’s just in such a circumstance a multilateral coalition ( at least in terms of political backing ) would be a slam-dunk and useful. So initial unilateral action as the situation warranted with a parallel developing multilateral build-up.

I don’t see a tit-for-tat nuclear response as necessary or desirable unless NK somehow continues to force the issue ( continued repeated nuclear strikes for instance ).

This although I’d probably use this to demand the final dissolution of the North Korean state and reunification.

Ask Congress for a declaration of war and presumably get it, then ask the Chinese to have kimchee for lunch with us in Pyongyang, and would they be kind enough to hold the door for us on their way in.

The Chinese have got to be utterly sick and tired of this crap by now. It makes the Chinese look weak and ineffectual not being able to rein in their client. They don’t like that sort of thing. Presumably the NK border with China is not as heavily mined as the border with SK.

Absent that, show them that nuclear tipped missiles are quite reliable and take out a bunch of military bases with nukes.

Is there a large desire in South Korea to reunify?

Economically, I imagine it would an order of magnitude (or three) worse than German reunification.

I’d see if SK would pull all it’s business ventures out of NK and then offer monetary support for the next leaders of NK. Let it fall apart from within.