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U.S. attacking North Korea?

Surely Donald Trump couldn’t be that foolish

By Benjamin Habib

As the USS Carl Vinson and its carrier battle group steamed through the Pacific toward the Korean Peninsula in late April, many were wondering if the Trump administration could be so rash as to attack North Korea.

Regardless of how this latest move plays out, the international community will ultimately have to accept and learn to manage a nuclear North Korea. This is because: North Korea will not relinquish its nuclear program for any price, the economic sanctions placed on it by the UN Security Council have had minimal impact in compelling North Korea’s denuclearization, and    military options for denuclearising North Korea carry unacceptably high risks of a disastrous cascade to full-scale war.

The Trump administration appears to agree with the first two assertions. However, it has reached a contrary view on the threat or use of military force to tame North Korea.

Meanwhile, North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test in September 2016 and has since embarked on several missile tests. The reasons for these tests include advancing the technological development of its nuclear weapons program, signaling displeasure about the annual US-South Korea joint military exercises, and testing the new Trump administration’s mettle.

In response, the U.S. is doubling down on abrasive posturing and military threats. During his recent visit to South Korea, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said “the policy of strategic patience has ended” with North Korea, and “all options are on the table” to denuclearise it. And Donald Trump has since declared on Twitter: “North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them!  U.S.A.”

In the past, US leaders have deployed stealth fighters and bombers to the Korean Peninsula as a signal to North Korea of the consequences of continued provocation. Trump, however, has deployed an aircraft carrier group in a move that goes beyond signaling a declaration of intent to attack.

In the context of U.S. air strikes against the Assad regime in Syria, the North Korean government would have little choice but to take the threat seriously. The risk of escalation to full-scale war has intensified.

3 comments

  1. While you point out the risks of confronting North Korea you fail to address the risks of allowing North Korea to continue developing its capabilities. Yes, a US military attack on North Korea could destabilize the region and put many innocent South Koreans in harms way. But the scale of risk is going up. Soon North Korea will be able to effect a much wider population with its threats.

  2. you know this problem with the DPRK is nothing new! When Bill Clinton was in office the head of the snake should have been severed. but it was not. The only thing the Clinton administration did is give them 5 billion dollars! and a nuclear reactor! what kind of fools run this country! boy I miss Roosevelt!

  3. I tell you, If you let north korea keep the nukes they will grow so strong. For sure they will attempt to dominate the world as we know it!!!!!!

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