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Crisis on the Korean Peninsula: Are We Inching Towards a War?
"The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea."
U.S. President Donald Trump's bombastic statement on the floor of the UNGA received severe backlash from North Korea
This was the statement U.S. President Donald Trump gave in his inaugural address to the UN General Assembly on September the 19th. Ironically, this outrageous threat of war - made almost casually - was given on the floor of a forum of peace, by the representative of the world's oldest democracy. It almost felt that President Trump was deliberately trying to provoke Kim Jong-un by repeatedly calling him "Little Rocket Man" and an "unstable psycho". North Korea lashed back within hours of the speech, with its Foreign Minister declaring that Trump's words were tantamount to a declaration of war, and Kim Jong-un calling Trump an "old dotard" who will face the consequences of his actions.
Further worsening the situation, global news outlets instantly picked up the heated rhetoric from both sides and began flashing inflammatory headlines. One of these channels [name redacted], called an "independent expert" for an interview, who gravely declared that "war is imminent". The news channels, having found a oppurtunity to boost their TRPs, have started to resort to war-mongering - effectively making them unreliable sources of information. This article will attempt to look at the current situation coolly and rationally - facts minus the rhetoric.
News outlets further fanned the flames by flashing exaggerated headlines.
First, we need to discuss how the current situation came to be. All of this started with North Korea developing and testing nuclear weapons, in response to direct military threats by the U.S. and South Korea. The United States regularly conducts military patrols in the region with South Korea, by citing the threat faced by its allies due to North Korean nuclear weapons.
On the other hand, North Korea explicitly states that its nuclear weapons have been expressly developed for the purpose of deterring the U.S. from conducting an invasion of North Korea to dispose the Kim regime. The scenario has essentially become a staring competition - with each side waiting to see who will blink first. But this has been going on for a long time, right? So what inflamed the situation so dramatically in the past year?
North Korea tested the Hwasong-14 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, which is capable of reaching the continental US.
Well, in 2017, North Korea successfully tested a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile system (ICBM) for the first time. This missile is capable of reaching the continental United States, putting the very heartland of U.S. under threat. Defense analysts were surprised by the sudden increase in the quality, range, and reliability of North Korean nuclear delivery systems, which now pose a significant threat to American security. Adding fuel to the already raging fire, North Korea successfully tested a massive 100 kiloton yield nuclear bomb, effectively increasing the yeild of its nuclear weapons by more than 15 times. The fact that the U.S. is currently led by an arrogant and haughty President doesn't cool the situation either.
But despite the heated rhetoric and insults being flung by both sides, we must remember that neither Donald Trump nor Kim Jong-un is a fool. Cruel, incapable, politically incorrect: maybe, but not stupid. Donald Trump won the U.S. Presidency. Young Kim Jong-un is ruling North Korea with an effective steel-grip. The U.S. has effective measures of check-and-balances - a trigger-happy President can't declare a war to satisfy his ego. On the other hand, Kim knows that in a war with the U.S. , North Korea will be totally destroyed. Thus, war does not appear to be on the horizon.
However, this game of brinkmanship is not a healthy environment to solve the underlying issue to the crisis we are facing today - does North Korea have the right to have nuclear weapons? The need of the moment is for both the countries to find a way to gracefully withdraw from the brink and sit on the table of dialogue. Concerns of the U.S. and North Korea - both of which should be respected - need to be discussed. Confidence building measures (CBMs) should be initiated, and North Korea's insecurities need to be addressed. Being the more mature player, the ball is in the court of the U.S. to untangle this mess once and for all. Let's hope that common sense prevails.
Note:- All the opinions stated in the above article are the author’s own.