Thus, at some point, it becomes necessary for the U.S. to ask the question: How can we best deter North Korea and avoid preventive military action? We live with a nuclear China and Russia, after all, and we deter them — surely we can deter the far weaker and poorer North Korea (and save ourselves the catastrophic consequences likely to be created by war with the nation).

Ironically enough, “American might”-espouser Max Boot has suggested just this, stating, “We can live with a nuclear North Korea just as we live with nuclear Russia and China. Would have been nice to avert nuclearization … but in N Korea it’s too late.”

In the face of massive pressure, Kim has built up his country’s nuclear capabilities. That’s a good indication that he should be taken at his word that this program is viewed as necessary for survival. That’s precisely why it’s unlikely that he wants to start a nuclear war with the United States. While North Korea has a handful of nuclear weapons, the U.S. has thousands both deployed and in storage. For Kim, launching a nuclear attack would be suicide.