However couched in "let's not reward Pyongyang for bad behavior" terms, that is precisely what Mike Mochizuki and Michael O'Hanlon advocate. They make the tired recommendation of putting pressure on North Korea for internal reform.
The Kim regime knows it would not survive any internal reform. Pyongyang will always resort to military brinkmanship to blackmail everyone else into caving in, and the stakes will only grow as its nuclear and missile technologies advance.
We've tried talking to North Korea before. And yet it has broken every agreement and will undoubtedly continue to do so in the future. We've tried imposing sanctions on North Korea, knowing full well that China will undermine those punishments to support its client state.
The only option left is to work toward regime change. The costs and risks will be high, but the cost of letting the status quo continue will be exponentially higher.
The same day I read that Adm. Samuel Locklear testified to Congress that we have "credible defenses" against missiles in the Pacific, I also read an article in Science magazine describing the state of missile defense.
The article makes clear that we do not have a system in place that works, that there have been no successful tests since 2008 and that we are far from solving problems with the "kill vehicle."
A 2012 National Academies of Sciences report, cited in the article, recommends that the government start over and build a whole new system.
We should be concerned that our officials act as though we have credible defenses when we do not. The article even reports an unnamed senior military official's warning that attempting to intercept a North Korean missile is risky because a failure would undermine confidence. Indeed, it should.