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Our view: Whether war or sanctions, ND will feel it

Herald editorial board

Would the United States win a war with North Korea?

We say yes. And we agree with the words of a senator from a neighboring state as we do so.

"If it came down to a shooting war, North Korea will lose, and it will be the end of that regime," U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, a Republican from South Dakota, told radio station WNAX. "But at the same time, there would be a real human toll on the Korean peninsula, and that's what we as a country are trying to avoid."

The London Telegraph this week predicted that if a conventional war — one without the use of nuclear weapons — breaks out, it would cost the lives of a million people. Add in weapons of mass destruction and the estimates would rise sharply, the Telegraph predicts.

Meanwhile, President Trump is considering other methods to curb North Korean aggression.

The president, via Twitter, said "The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea."

China, for example, and North Korea are trade partners.

We unequivocally prefer economic sanctions to military action against North Korea, but we fear how those sanctions — in the unlikely event they become reality — will affect North Dakota's economy.

For example, we recall the words of the very first Eye of the Hawk speaker at UND. In January, James McGregor, chairman of APCO Worldwide China, told attendees that North Dakota has a lucrative and important connection to China. The state exports approximately $800 million in crops to China every year, he said.

And according to numbers from the U.S.-China Business Council, the economic relationship between North Dakota and China grew exponentially—by about 600 percent—from 2006 to 2016.

Overall, the U.S. exported $21 billion in ag products to China last year alone, according to the Department of Agriculture, including $14 billion in soybeans.

And just this summer, the U.S. finalized a new agreement that will send American beef to China. It was a move cheered by the North Dakota Beef Association.

If the president does cut trade to any country that cooperates with North Korea, it could lead to cutting certain trade with Russia and India. Again, not good for the U.S. economy.

The New York Times predicts it would mean "economic disaster for the United States."

The president has some tough decisions ahead.

War is the last resort. Economic sanctions could happen, and it would be felt here in the heartland. Threatening either option without following through could make the U.S. appear weak, presenting another troubling quandary for the president.

Obviously, we prefer sanctions over loss of life, but remind readers that either way, the tensions with North Korea could have consequences that reverberate deep into middle America.