Deterrence Using All Elements of Power

NAPSNet Policy Forum

Recommended Citation

Walter Sharp, "Deterrence Using All Elements of Power", NAPSNet Policy Forum, February 19, 2013,

by Walter Sharp

February 19, 2013

This report was originally presented at the New Approach to Security in Northeast Asia: Breaking the Gridlock workshop held on October 9th and 10th, 2012 in Washington, DC. All of the papers and presentations given at the workshop are available here, along with the full agenda, participant list and a workshop photo gallery.

Click here to download a pdf of this report.

Nautilus invites your contributions to this forum, including any responses to this report.


I. Introduction
II. Report by Walter Sharp
III. Nautilus invites your responses

I. Introduction

In this short report Walter Sharp assesses the elements of power that the ROK, U.S. and other countries (most importantly China) should implement in order to deter North Korea from military provocations and attacks.

General Walter Sharp (Ret.) commanded the United Nations Command, Republic of Korea – United States Combined Forces Command, and United States Forces Korea from 3 June 2008 to 14 July 2011. He is currently consulting for Monitor National Security Practice, SK Engineering and Construction, and involved in strategy and policy discussions at several D.C. area Think Tanks.

The views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Nautilus Institute. Readers should note that Nautilus seeks a diversity of views and opinions on significant topics in order to identify common ground.

II. Report by Walter Sharp

“Deterrence Using All Elements of Power”
by Walter Sharp

While the parties are developing and implementing the “Peace Treaty” North Korea must be deterred from using its military element of power (its only real bargaining chip) as means to get more concessions or as a means to control its people. We should be very clear that not using the military to threaten, posture, nor attack will be to the advantage of North Korea as the negotiations continue and more importantly during the initial implementation phases.

As the “Peace Treaty” is being developed and implemented North Korea will face at least two challenges. First, they will want to negotiate the maximum benefit to the Regime (Regime survival) and hopefully for the people of North Korea. Second, they will have to control the North Korea people’s anger and outrage as the truth about prosperity, freedom, and human rights in South Korea becomes evident to the majority of the common people in North Korea. North Korea will be very tempted to rely on past proven techniques to overcome these challenges. For many decades these tactics have been to use the military to threaten the ROK (and now the rest of the world with its nuclear and ballistic missile capability) and to attack and then blame the attack on others. Using these tactics North Korea has successfully received aid and prestige and has been able to convince the people of North Korea about the need and effectiveness of their military thus justifying the military first policy and the suffering that is needed to pay for this policy. All parties must convince North Korea that use of these tactics will immediately kill any hopes for a “Peace Treaty”.

The “Peace Treaty” must also have provisions that insure the people of North Korea have the basic human rights as spelled out in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Key in the Declaration are: all humans are born free and equal; have the right to life, liberty, and security; will not be held in slavery; will not be subject to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment; will not be subject to arbitrary arrest; are presumed innocent until proven guilty; have the right to freedom of movement in the country and the freedom to leave the country; have the right to own property; have the right to freedom of opinion and expression; have the right to peacefully assemble; and have the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family; including food, clothing, housing and medical care. This “Peace Treaty” must clearly move North Korea towards these rights for all their citizens.

In order to deter North Korea from resorting to past proven and effective tactics the U.S. and ROK must use all elements of both nations’ power as one Alliance. We must diplomatically speak with one voice. We must work together to inform the world of our actions and those of North Korea. We must remain militarily strong and be clear that any North Korea attack will be met by a very quick and powerful response. And we must be clear that any use of the North Korea military to threaten or attack will economically hurt North Korea as a result of the reinstatement and even strengthening of the sanctions and the end of any aid that has started.

Diplomatic element of power. In order to speak with one voice the ROK and U.S. must agree on all elements of the “Peace Treaty”. We must have agreed to items such as mechanisms for government to government discussions, exchange of diplomats, diplomatic protections, etc. We should also discuss and agree on reunification diplomatic issues to pressure North Korea to agree to the Peace Treaty diplomatic terms where the regime remains in power. Reunification items such as the form of the new North Korea government, the acceptable constitution and laws, North Korea property rights, role and disposition of the current North Korea military and security personnel, the judicial system, who pays for which reconstruction costs, etc should be agreed between the U.S. and ROK in order to pressure North Korea to accept the Treaty while also preparing for the long term reunification of the peninsula.

Informational element of Power. In order to insure North Korea both stops their provocations and grants their people their basic human rights we must continuously highlight and condemn North Korea human rights violations. We should: establish offices in USG and ROKG to document and publish North Korea human rights violations, work with NGOs to sponsor TV and newspaper spots highlighting these violations; and push the UNHCR to highlight and condemn North Korea human rights violations. We should also educate and inform the people of North Korea about human rights, other forms of government, and freedom by establishing an office in USG and ROKG responsible for getting information into North Korea, supporting NGO podcast efforts, deploying high power radio broadcasting capability; and pushing CDs into North Korea. We must remember the purpose of this treaty is not only to stop North Korea attacks but also to insure the people of North Korea have their basic human rights.

Military element of Power. We should continue to develop and exercises Plans to deter North Korea from future provocations and attacks. These plans should focus on instability and provocations and agree on swift and strong response measures. The plans, exercises, organizations should widen to include meaningful participation of more UN Sending States and Japan. We should reenergize the UNC role in enforcing the Armistice and promoting understanding and confidence building measures among U.S., ROK, North Korea, PRC militaries. The UNSC should ask the UNC to routinely brief the UNSC on Armistice violations and progress to building confidence among ROK, U.S., North Korea, and PRC. Confidence building measures should include counterpart visits to exercises and facility inspection in the ROK (to include U.S. bases in Korea) and North Korea. The treaty must also agree on an incremental withdrawing of forces along the DMZ. Key to military deterrence and a real Peace Treaty is strength, dialog, verifiable inspections, removing immediate threats to the ROK and North Korea, and lessening escalation capabilities of each side.

Economic Element of Power. We should not only determine ways to improve North Korea economy, to provide electrical power, food, and farming techniques to North Korea but we must also be clear that breaking the Peace Treaty will end all assistance and lead to reinstatement of the previous sanctions and even stronger sanctions. We must work with the PRC to get agreement on these new sanctions.

In summary, in order to deter North Korea from military provocations and attacks during the negotiations and implementation of the Peace Treaty we must use and synchronize all elements of power of both the ROK and the U.S. and ideally other countries (most importantly China). We must also insure this process ends in a North Korea that believes in freedom and human rights for all of its people. A step by step development and implementation plan backed by the ability to quickly and strongly counter any North Korea attacks is the best way to deter North Korea from resorting to past proven negotiation techniques.

III. Nautilus invites your responses

The Nautilus Peace and Security Network invites your responses to this report. Please leave a comment below or send your response to: Comments will only be posted if they include the author’s name and affiliation.

nautilus-logo-smallThe NAPSNet Policy Forum provides expert analysis of contemporary peace and security issues in Northeast Asia. As always, we invite your responses to this report and hope you will take the opportunity to participate in discussion of the analysis.

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