The sad and horrible death of Otto Warmbier, held captive by North Korea for 17 months before being returned with severe brain damage to his family, elicits the natural question, what should be done about it. The North Korean regime has slaughtered millions and has blighted the lives of tens of millions more during the hellish existence. However, an adage states that a single death is a tragedy but a million is a statistic, applies here. Warmbier’s murder cries out for retribution.

However, as the Atlantic points out, there are no good options for dealing with North Korea, because of its immense military power and the insanity of its leadership.

Mainly four options exist, Prevention, Turning the Screws, Decapitation, and Acceptance.

Prevention – a massive military strike

The prevention option involves a large-scale military strike on North Korea’s leadership and its military infrastructure, its nuclear and missile arsenals, and the massive artillery batteries that have Seoul, the capital of South Korea, targeted. The problem is that the prospect of successfully taking out all of North Korea’s ability to wreck harm is considered unlikely at best, meaning massive civilian casualties in South Korea and perhaps Japan, if The North Koreans launch a missile on it with a weapon of mass destruction, if not a nuke, perhaps sarin gas.

Turning the screws – a limited military strike

This scenario involves a more limited attack, say against North Korea’s nuclear and missile program, with the hope that Kim Jong-un gets the message and learns to behave himself. Unfortunately, this option leaves North Korea’s convention forces intact, which will be used to level Seoul.

Again the risks may not be worth the rewards.

Decapitation – Kill Kim Jong-Un and his generals

The idea of sending in special operators, perhaps backed with air strikes, to take out Kim and the rest of the North Korean leadership has a certain appeal. The theory is that whoever replaces the dead leaders will be disposed to be more reasonable.

However, the threat of military retaliation still exists.

Acceptance – Do nothing

The final option that the Atlantic posits, essentially to do nothing except continue diplomatic and economic pressure and build up defenses, especially missile defense, is the one that is the most galling but has the virtue of not setting off the North Koreans immediately. However, a wait and see approach has all the dangers of appeasement, meaning that North Korea may do something horrible anyway like launch a nuke against Seattle or Los Angeles. Then we’re back to the first option, all out war, and all that implies.