I’m sympathetic to the Carter/Perry/Gingrich preemptive strike option. Problem is that it would be an act of war against a sovereign state. The North Koreans probably wouldn’t have any good options in response, but it would still be a major risk. Here’s a paragraph from the Carter/Perry op-ed that should give us pause:
North Korea could respond to U.S. resolve by taking the drastic step of threatening all-out war on the Korean Peninsula. But it is unlikely to act on that threat. Why attack South Korea, which has been working to improve North-South relations (sometimes at odds with the United States) and which was openly opposing the U.S. action? An invasion of South Korea would bring about the certain end of Kim Jong Il’s regime within a few bloody weeks of war, as surely he knows. Though war is unlikely, it would be prudent for the United States to enhance deterrence by introducing U.S. air and naval forces into the region at the same time it made its threat to strike the Taepodong. If North Korea opted for such a suicidal course, these extra forces would make its defeat swifter and less costly in lives — American, South Korean and North Korean.
Personally, I think if we want to wage war on North Korea (and we don’t), we should wage war. Otherwise, it would be foolish to risk sliding into a war in this fashion.