A North Korean invasion would be added to the long list of failed American military efforts.
Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba. These countries have one thing in common: They were all the targets of U.S. military intervention at some point in time. The United States has given many reasons as to why it intervened in these countries, but, for the most part, it has been to protect U.S. interests and to promote U.S. hegemony worldwide. These interventions usually involved the attempted overthrow of the incumbent government or dictator and the installation of a U.S. aided and controlled puppet regime, all in the name of spreading democracy around the world.
Sadly, most of these cases have not gone the way America wanted them to go at all. The resulting power vacuum causes militant and terrorist organizations to rise, their members united by a shared hatred for Western culture and America in particular. The Taliban and ISIS are just some of the organizations that American military intervention has inadvertently brought into existence.
These organizations have caused the U.S. and Western Europe tremendous amounts of trouble and tragedy. In the case of U.S. intervention in North Korea, however, the possible repercussions may be even more severe and could potentially catapult us into a global conflict, or at the very least, a humanitarian crisis that makes the one in Syria look like a drop in the ocean.
If the United States were to attack North Korea and attempt to install a puppet regime, the North Koreans would immediately attack South Korea and Japan, key U.S. allies. If this were to happen, a full-blown war would between the USA and North Korea is possible, on account of the Mutual Defense Treaty Between the United States and South Korea and the 1952 Mutual Security Assistance Pact.
A war in this mold would cause a refugee crisis numbering in the millions, and most of the refugees would flock to China. If North Korea manages to develop working nuclear weapons and complete the development of ICBMs, then the country could launch a nuclear attack on pretty much any location in the world—and would probably not be reluctant to do so. This would be the definition of a catastrophic event.
Even in the case of non-nuclear missiles being launched, the damage to the target location would be nothing short of calamitous. China, North Korea’s only real ally could become involved in the case of an unprovoked attack by another nation according to the 1961 Sino-North Korean Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance. This erupting into a global conflict would be the worst-case scenario.
In case of a military coup being successfully orchestrated without a full-scale war breaking out, there would still be serious complications in the aftermath of the Kim Jong Un regime being toppled. The stockpile of nuclear material that North Korea has amassed would be much less secure and could potentially fall into the wrong hands, maybe even those of terrorist organizations.
And a change in the balance of power in the region could be followed by a series of interested parties and countries jockeying for more power, fueling instability in an area crucial to world politics and relations. One of these power struggles could be between China and the allied forces of the United States of America and South Korea, wherein they race to secure strategic and symbolic locations such as the Yongbyon nuclear facility and Pyongyang.
The conflict surrounding the securing of Pyongyang would be especially intense, as China values Pyongyang as a strategic buffer between itself and U.S. allied South Korea. If North Korea were to fall and Pyongyang end up under the control of South Korea and by extension, the USA, then China would have the USA-South Korea alliance right at its doorstep, which is not something that Beijing wants to happen.
Apart from these, there is one more outcome that has occurred more often than not in the case of American military intervention and occupation – the emergence of extremist groups which target the West, and America specifically. This could indeed happen in North Korea, and with the country’s stockpile of weapons and ammunition, any emergent terrorist organization would be very well equipped to take on the West. To summarize: American intervention in North Korea would be a very bad idea.