Probably not, at least not in this blogger’s opinion, although North Korea’s state run media has announced that it is considering plans to launch a nuclear strike on the US territory of Guam that will be ready in “days.”
Now That’s Some Hateful Rhetoric!
Kim Jong Un is not one to be overdone, so it is no surprise that he came back right in Donald Trump’s face after the president’s ‘fire and fury’ comments. This is for sure a fairly unstable situation, but I also don’t think it makes much sense to start putting a ton of stock in ‘tough talk’ from Donald Trump, let alone threats from Kim Jong Un.
Trump’s threat of retaliation against North Korea was, I thought, a pretty smart move. The US has thousands of troops in South Korea that are there for the specific purpose of attacking North Korea if they move first, so Trump doesn’t risk much telling North Korea what they already know full well.
As for the North Koreans, if I’ve said it before I’ve said it a thousand times. They’re not fools and they like being rich, and you can’t enjoy being the non-starving 1% in North Korea if you’ve been vaporized. They want to be feared as a nuclear power, but I seriously doubt they have any interest in actually nuking people, no matter how hard they try to convince me otherwise.
Backlash from the #FakeNews Media
Lots of talking heads in the media, as well as some Democratic politicians, have criticized the president for escalating things against the Koreans. I, for one, fail to see the risk in playing a bit of hardball with North Korea, since literally nothing anyone could say would divert Kim Jong Un from his current course of action (except for maybe, “here are some nukes, sorry ’bout all the trouble”).
Frankly, I think spending time attacking Trump for threatening retaliation against literally the most disliked nation-state on God’s green earth is a waste of time. This may come as a surprise, but there are quite a number of questionable things he’s done, in terms of policy and potential criminal action, that are waayyyy better reasons why he’s a bad president that you can focus on.
And to reiterate, none of this should be news to Kim Jong Un, who has lived basically his whole life with South Korea and the US staring him down from across the border. The consequence for military aggression hasn’t changed, it just seems to a lot of people that it’s more likely to offend KJU when it’s put in such bombastic terms. But if anyone knows how to handle threats, it’s Kim, seeing as he’s always being threatened by the civilized world and he keeps on keeping on
The Bottom Line
People need to simmer down about the prospects of nuclear war. I refuse to believe that the North Koreans are obtuse enough to announce to the world step-by-step how they intend to nuke the most powerful country in the world. I think military action is a possibility, but I have no idea who fires the first shot because neither side would really benefit from a large scale war.
The US would win for sure, but North Korea knows it can inflict massive casualties: a 1994 estimate put it in the ballpark of 52,000 American troop casualties and 490,000 South Korean casualties, plus ~80,000 American civilian casualties and .god knows how many for North Korea.
Technological advancement since the 90’s would greatly benefit the good guys, but those estimates were also before nuclear weapons were involved. And while I doubt KJU would ever instigate something with nuclear weapons, nuking Seoul while they’re backed into a corner is certainly in the realm of possibility. Suffice it to say, this war would be goddamnn ugly and I don’t think either side has the stomach for it.
So the Donald has three real options here: strike unilaterally before North Korea fully develops its nuclear capabilities, convince China to help fight North Korea, or ramp up the sanctions and hope North Korea collapses internally. Either way, in the short term all he can really do is stare them down and hope they piss off China, otherwise we may have to wait until Kim eats himself to death.