China should pay an economic price for propping up North Korea's regime, says a national defense analyst, while a second analyst predicts China will orchestrate regime change in the near future.
North Korea's provocative launch of an ICBM into Japanese waters – after a flight time of 53 minutes and reaching space before re-entry – has heightened nightmare scenarios of tens of thousands dead or, worse, a nuclear exchange on the Korean peninsula.
"I think, if you trigger a military option, it's going to escalate unbelievably quickly," leaving "tens of thousands" dead, warns Kirk Lippold, a retired U.S. Navy officer who commanded the USS Cole when terrorists attacked it in 2000.
Now a military consultant, Lippold says the United States still possesses political and economic leverage, and his advice to President Donald Trump would be to warn China with sanctions.
"I would begin to target key industries and key people," Lippold says, "to affect their economy and say, We are not going to be threatened."
But there is also the possibility that China, behind the scenes, has tired of Kim Jong-Un and is orchestrating regime change, says Bob Maginnis, a retired U.S. Army colonel now with the Family Research Council.
Not only is there the possibility that China is working to unseat the dictator, says Maginnis, but it wouldn't be surprising if the Chinese are communicating with South Korea – communication meant to prevent a war.
Maginnis, too, warns of bloodshed if war breaks out but also the scenario that the United States would be responsible for a post-war North Korea. A better alternative, he says, is China pushes out the country's dictator.