… Now, more than ever, the administration needs to take a grown up approach to the Korean Peninsula. …
Nor could the DPRK. Kim now might believe Trump to be a paper tiger, big on rhetoric but not much else.
However, if the United States consciously and officially unleashes chaos across Northeast Asia, the administration either is going all-in on a bluff or really is preparing for the war that the president and his aides have been planning.
In which case, the North would have to begin preparing its response.
To believe it was more geopolitical poker would be taking a huge risk.
Pyongyang at least would likely become hyper-sensitive to American threats and actions, prepare to use or lose its most important weapons, and plot how to disrupt U.S. plans.
With such an atmosphere, it wouldn’t take much to start the war that both sides were treating as inevitable.
There are some adults in the administration.
For instance, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis responded to a question on the issue by emphasizing diplomacy. One suspects that his private reaction probably was a bit harsher.
And the U.S. Olympic Committee, which is not a government agency, insisted that it was having no second thoughts about participating in the games that are to be held in the mountainous region of Pyeongchang some fifty miles from the DMZ, which marks the border with North Korea.
Hopefully the president realizes that war at any time is serious business. War with a hostile, paranoid state which possesses a sizable conventional military and variety of WMDs and missiles is really serious.
The lives of millions of people are potentially at stake.
One of the dangers of nuclear proliferation is increasing the chance of a war no one actually desires.
Unfortunately, the United States and North Korea could bring about such a calamity.
Now, more than ever, the administration needs to take a grown up approach to the Korean Peninsula.
Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is the author of several books, including Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a Changed World and coauthor of The Korean Conundrum: America’s Troubled Relations with North and South Korea.
This article was first published by The National Interest
Image: North Korean soldiers attend a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of country’s founding father Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, North Korea, April 15, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
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