I’m trying to make sense of the news coming from North Korea these past few days. It’s all very confusing to me.
Among the things I wonder is why Kim Jong Un wants nuclear-armed ICBM’s in the first place. The United States isn’t likely to attack North Korea with even a limited strike now for the same reason it never has before. We don’t want to see a million-plus dead South Koreans and tens of thousands of US troops from conventional artillery and other arms launched from the north.
Maybe Kim thinks that the US will be unwilling to get involved if he decides to invade South Korea if we’re concerned about a nuclear attack. Even then, it doesn’t make sense. North Korea’s very possession of ICBM-capable nukes makes a first strike by the US fair game. Even if he does manage to nuke, say, Los Angeles, it would be the end of North Korea as dozens of nuclear warheads would rain down all over his head. He would lose everything. What’s the point of nuclear war?
You might say, “Well, he’s just crazy. Crazy people do crazy things.” Is it really that simple? I’m not so sure.
Meanwhile, Trump has sent a carrier strike force into the region to do I-don’t-know-what. People might be inclined to think that it’s not a bluff after the Shayrat airbase and MOAB bombings. They think that Trump really is ready to carry out at least a limited attack against Kim. It has definitely worked on me, but I can’t speak for Kim, the Chinese, or the Russians.
I don’t understand what the point of moving these forces in and ramping up tensions is. Let’s say Kim’s missile launch had not been a failure (whether US cyber forces caused it to fail is a whole other set of questions). Was the plan to launch an airstrike against the launch facility or something else?
Again: If we do this, there will be a lot of dead South Koreans followed by a bloody and unpopular war that may end with significant loss of American life. It’s hard for me to see what anybody gets from this. Nobody would benefit from a war on the Korean Peninsula, the Koreans least of all.
It’s that Trump is clearly willing to use devastating military force, even when it doesn’t appear to be related to our vital strategic interests, that has me on edge. I expect the North Koreans to do bizarre stunts. They’ve been at it for seventy years.
Seeing this sort of the bluster from the White House, though, is a new experience for me and I don’t like being unable to even guess what’s next.