William J. Perry, former President Bill Clinton’s secretary of defense and an adviser to every presidential administration since Dwight Eisenhower, told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday how the US could “blunder into” a possible “Korean armageddon.”
According to Perry, a war with North Korea won’t come from through an unprovoked attack “because they know if they do that, it will provoke a war that it will surely lose and the regime will be swept from power.” Perry maintains regime security has been North Korea’s main goal in its nuclear ambitions.
The danger then, is not that North Korea will blindside the US, but “that we will blunder into some sort of war, a war that can be catastrophic,” said Perry.
“One way they might conduct an attack is if they believe we’re about to preempt them,” Perry said of the North Koreans. “If they believe that, they may be tempted to preempt the preempt.”
Another path to war, according to Perry, would be a small conventional North Korean attack on South Korea that would draw a larger response.
“All too easy for a little conflict to escalate into a big conflict,” Perry said. As North Korea would definitely lose a conventional battle against South Korea, and the US and its allies would likely seize the opportunity to take out Kim Jong Un, as the North Koreans “saw the regime about to be swept from power, then they might launch the nuclear weapons in some sort of a Korean armageddon,” he added.
“In both those cases, reckless statements, theatrical statements between those two countries creates an environment in which one of those is likely to happen,” said Perry.
In order to combat these mutually horrific situations, Perry advised the US to not fight threats with threats, but with sincere statements of intent.
According to Perry, the US can deter North Korea “not by making theatrical statements, but by saying clearly and simply that if North Korea were to attack South Korea, or Japan, or the US, that we would reply quickly and unequivocally with force.”