by Countable | 4.17.17
Friction between the U.S. and North Korea is building by the day. Vice President Mike Pence visited ally South Korea on Monday, walking within a hundred yards of the North’s border soldiers, and announcing that all options are on the table and ‘the era of strategic patience is over."
This standoff is only growing more volatile, reports a New York Times news analysis:
"It pits a new president’s vow never to allow North Korea to put American cities at risk — “It won’t happen!" he said on Twitter on Jan. 2 — against a young, insecure North Korean leader who sees that capability as his only guarantee of survival.”
Trump ordered a battle group of ships and submarines to take position off the Korean Peninsula, led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. It carries thousands of sailors and 60 aircraft. This, plus annual joint military exercises with South Korea have drawn wrath from the North’s totalitarian leader, Kim Jong-Un, reports USA Today:
North Korea's Foreign Ministry released a statement Friday warning that "thermo-nuclear war may break out any moment."
The options before President Trump are not simple. An opinion piece in the Baltimore Sun provides a succinct overview:
"There are no good options to curtail North Korea's nuclear ambitions. China can bring economic pressure to bear on the north, but it also doesn't want to risk a sudden collapse of the Pyongyang government — and the flood of refugees that would pour across its border. We can engage in covert operations to sabotage North Korea's weapons programs, and a recent string of failures in ballistic missile tests, including one this weekend, suggest we may be having some success at it. But that won't stop the programs altogether. And military strikes threaten disaster that would make the Syrian civil war appear a minor problem by comparison. North Korea's forces are heavily dug-in and are capable of inflicting massive damage on South Korea. We cannot contain them with a few air strikes."
Some experts believe that all other options have been exhausted, and military action is all that is left.
"We’re rapidly and dangerously heading towards the reality that the military option is the only one left when it comes to getting North Korea to denuclearize and not weaponized [intercontinental ballistic missiles]," said retired four-star Gen. Jack Keane, to FOX News.
Former UN Ambassador John Bolton added, "North Korea ought to be at the top of the agenda in Mar-a-Lago. How much do you fear a nuclear weapon? That's the question. We have to look at preemptive military action. If China doesn't like that prospect maybe we can start bringing down the regime with other measures, like cutting off the supply of food and fuel to North Korea."
The most frequently used argument against military action is a fear of what is next. Would the North Koreans respond to an attack, with a counter attack against South Korea or Japan? And how would the US and its allies respond to that?
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-- Andrea Seabrook
(Photo Credit: *Bjørn Christian Tørrissen via Wikimedia / Creative Commons)*
Written by Countable