As North Korea’s nuclear program progresses toward obtaining a strike capability against the United States, Washington will need to start thinking about concrete military options for defusing the threat. The most successful tactic might be a direct attack against Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and his family, which would effectively decapitate the leadership structure of North Korea’s hereditary dictatorship. Although the U.S. has numerous other military options, keeping Kim and his family in power is the main reason for pretty much everything the regime in Pyongyang does, so taking him off the board could bring about a sea change in the country’s policies. There are no proscriptions in U.S. law against attacking the leader of a hostile country, and as head of the North Korean military Kim is a legitimate target. Many of the people around Kim would undoubtedly be happy to see him go, particularly if the U.S. made clear it was focused mainly on removing the nuclear threat rather than engaging in wholesale regime change. Even China and Russia would probably welcome his elimination if it did not raise the specter of a united Korea on their borders. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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