5 July 2017   Leave a comment

As I was driving home from a very nice vacation with old friends, I was listening to the news on the radio.  There was breathless reporting about North Korea’s “challenge” to the US.  The challenge is the launching of a missile with the theoretical potential to reach Alaska from a launch in North Korea.    The North Korean leader was typically bellicose in announcing that “the American bastards would not very happy with this gift sent on the July 4 anniversary”.  The US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, offered strong language to the world at the Security Council, arguing that:

“So in order to have an impact, in order to move North Korea off its military escalation, we must do more. We will not look exclusively at North Korea. We will look at any country that chooses to do business with this outlaw regime. We will not have patience for stalling or talking our way down to a watered-down resolution.

“Yesterday’s ICBM escalation requires an escalated diplomatic and economic response. Time is short. Action is required. The world is on notice. If we act together, we can still prevent a catastrophe and we can rid the world of a grave threat. If we fail to act in a serious way, there will be a different response.

“Much of the burden of enforcing U.N. sanctions rests with China; 90 percent of trade with North Korea is from China. We will work with China. We will work with any and every country that believes in peace.

“But we will not, repeat, the inadequate approaches of the past that have brought us to this dark day.”

It seems as if US President Trump has decided that China will not exert sufficient pressure on North Korea to “de-nuclearize”.  He tweeted:

“Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter.  So much for China working with us — but we had to give it a try!”

Trump still does not understand that China fears the collapse of the North Korean regime more than it fears a nuclear-armed North Korea.  What Trump apparently does not understand is that China (as well as South Korea, Russia, and Japan) have been living with a nuclear-armed Korea for many years–it is only the US that thinks that an intercontinental ballistic missile is significant.  The ICBM does not add any risk to those countries and there is no reason for them to take any steps that might aggravate North Korea in order to protect the American homeland.

More importantly, Trump should also understand that there is no reason to fear North Korea any more than it feared the Soviet Union or China during the Cold War.  The media constantly talk about the “irrationality” of the North Korea regime and I remember the same language being used about the Russians and the Chinese when I was growing up.  North Korea may have about 20 nuclear weapons;  the US has about 1,790.  North Korea may have a population of about 28 million people; the US has 320 million people.  North Korea developed nuclear weapons for one reason and one reason only: to deter an American attack against North Korea.  Anyone who does not understand that logic of deterrence is being “irrational”.

If the US decides to take military action against North Korea, the consequences would be catastrophic.  The New York Times has an article that outlines the likely unfolding of such a war.  While the US citizenry might not be seriously affected by the action, it is clear that others would pay a very heavy price.

I was quite concerned about the way the news media has framed the issue, talking about the “challenge” to Trump.  As we listen to the reporting about the matter, we should not forget that the media makes a lot of money by making people frightened about the imminence of war.  There is probably no way to prevent the scare mongering from occurring, but it is important not to succumb to it.

Posted July 5, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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