Still, one cannot help but reflect on what might have been different. The combination of factors that had to line up “just-so” for this carrier to be built was the result of remarkable North Korean tenacity, and no small degree of luck. So many opportunities existed where intervention could have halted Pyongyang’s progress, starting from the earliest cyber espionage campaigns against defense industrial base contractors. But very much like the reaction to early Chinese forays toward a blue water navy in the 1990s, serious people would not take the idea seriously. After all, everyone knew the immense hurdles of building a naval aviation warfare community to operate from a narrow deck at sea. This simply could not be achieved using a rusting hulk headed to the shipbreakers, by the kinds of people more at home in a casino than in a banker’s office or a uniform. Likewise, conventional wisdom demands that serious naval strategists focus on power projection in the open ocean, unencumbered by the distractions of littoral operations in close and confined seas.
But what if they were wrong?