For decades, the communist dictatorship in Pyongyang has taken extreme umbrage with joint U.S.-South Korean military drills on the Korean Peninsula. Now, they’ve upped the war of words tenfold.
The “Hermit Kingdom” Of Kim Jong-un has warned that “reckless behavior” by Washington and Seoul will lead to a “merciless strike” from North Korea’s nuclear weapons industry. According to CNN, this warning comes after a string of recent missile tests that have been successful.
While North Korea has threatened America and South Korea for decades over the military drills that it believes are precursors to a planned invasion, a new sense of urgency has arisen after North Korea’s latest missile tests convinced some experts that Pyongyang now has the capability to strike the continental United States.
Some of America’s allies have promised that they will thwart any North Korean missile strike, even though Japan and South Korea’s anti-missile capabilities are limited.
The Trump administration has upped the ante by selling THAAD missile shields to South Korea. However, many believe that the North’s firepower could overwhelm the South.
Another move recently engineered by the Trump administration has been to pressure China, North Korea’s largest economic and military backer, to place harsh economic sanctions on the rogue dictatorship.
China recently agreed to go along with a new round of UN sanctions, but are unlikely to enforce such measures too closely. After all, it is in Beijing’s interest to keep North Korea independent of the South.
Before leaving the Trump White House, Steve Bannon broke with the President by stating that there is no military option in regards to North Korea. Similarly, paleo conservative commentator, Pat Buchanan, told Sean Hannity that North Korea is not only a nuclear power, but that China wants the U.S. to waste money and blood all across the world in order to maintain its hegemony in Northeast Asia.
Buchanan’s point is a simple, but good one: has the U.S. benefited whatsoever from decades of war throughout the world? Would a war in North Korea benefit anyone at all?
Some leaked reports from North Korea itself have also provided another dimension to this conflict. Thae Yong Ho, a North Korean administrator who recently defected, believes that Kim Jong-un could be overthrown in a coup in the next ten years. Similarly, another defector claims that more and more North Koreans are turning to religion, and away from worshipping the state. In his words, the average North Korean no longer sees Kim Jong-un as a god.
Given all of this information, North Korea’s latest warning could be nothing more than bluster. Not so many weeks ago, Pyongyang threatened to obliterate the island territory of Guam. North Korea recently backed down, but tension in the area remains.
Another thing to remember in the face of North Korea’s threats is how the United States is capable of shooting down almost every missile that is currently used by North Korea. While some nations, such as Ukraine, continue to provide Pyongyang with missile technology, America remains far ahead of North Korea in the nuclear arms race.