1. Exquisite Tweets from @ColinKahl

    PreoccupationsCollected by Preoccupations

    <THREAD> The biggest challenge North Korea's recent nuclear & missile moves pose is alliance reassurance not deterrence. Let me explain. 1/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    Prior to North Korea's development of an ICBM, potentially with a city-busting warhead, extended deterrence was not a major challenge. 2/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    If NK attacked South Korea (ROK) or Japan, the US could escalate all the way up to nuclear war without risks to the US homeland. 3/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    That not only made extended deterrence (i.e., preventing a North Korean attack on US allies) easier, but crucially… 4/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    ...the relative invulnerability of the US homeland reassured anxious allies we would indeed come to their defense if an attack happened. 5/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    Reassurance, in turn, reduced incentives for the ROK & Japan to seek their own nukes or accelerate a destabilizing arms race in E Asia. 6/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    But if North Korea completes an ICBM with a deliverable nuclear warhead, it changes things by putting the US homeland at risk. 7/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    During the Cold War, the extended deterrence/reassurance question was whether the US would be willing to trade “Boston for Berlin.” 8/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    Now the project of a nuclear-armed North Korean ICBM creates a "San Francisco for Seoul" problem that must be overcome. 9/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    This will require a clear "declaratory policy" specifying the nature of US retaliatory commitments in the event an ally is attacked. 10/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    Trump's "fire & fury, "locked & loaded," & other comments hinting at preventive war? Not so much. politico.com/story/2017/08/… 12/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    Extended deterrence is also helped by US "tripwire" forces in ROK, perhaps buttressed by other deployments, & careful nuclear signaling. 13/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    Because tens of thousands of US troops are in South Korea, if Kim Jong-Un launches a big war, it will kill inevitably kill Americans. &…14/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    …in the event of such an attack, US forces can dominate escalation all the way up to & across the nuke threshold, even with a NK ICBM. 15/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    Kim Jong-Un knows all this. And, even though he is a mass murderer, he wants to survive. So he can be deterred. economist.com/news/leaders/2… 16/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    US theatre & national missile defenses, if effective, can also help ext det by creating doubt in NK that the US homeland is vulnerable. 17/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    So, I'm less concerned about the deterrence challenges & more worried about alliance management & reassurance. Why? 18/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    Because even though steps to bolster ext deterrence theoretically help reassure the ROK&Japan, a lot of reassurance comes down to trust. 19/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    Our allies have to *believe* we would trade San Francisco for Seoul or Toledo for Tokyo if push comes to shove. 20/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    Yet instead of reassuring our democratic allies in East Asia, Trump has done the opposite. 21/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    Trump's preventive war bluster sends the signal that we'd rather have a war now because it will primarily kill Asians, not Americans. 22/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    Indeed, Trump reportedly told Lindsay Graham, "if thousands die, they’re going to die over there," not here. vox.com/world/2017/8/1… 23/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    Meanwhile Trump compounds distrust problems by tweeting before consulting, labeling Seoul "appeasers," &... twitter.com/realDonaldTrum… 24/

    Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
    South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    ...by threatening to rip up the US-South Korean trade agreement to play to his base. nytimes.com/2017/09/02/wor… 25/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    Undermining alliance solidarity at this moment is dumb & dangerous. It emboldens Pyongyang, increases the risk of NK miscalculation, &...26/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    ...potentially incentivizes the ROK & Japan to seek their own independent nuclear arsenals. foreignaffairs.com/articles/north… 27/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    & remember that candidate Trump actually said ROK & Japanese nukes would be a good thing. So there's that. nytimes.com/2016/03/29/wor… 28/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    So, Trump needs to stop attacking US allies& tweeting before meeting or talking with them. (I know, dream on.) 29/

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl

    & the Admin needs to speak w/one voice before confusion splits US from its allies, produces a war, or both. nytimes.com/2017/08/31/opi… 31/31

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    ColinKahl

    Colin Kahl