North Korea vs. U.S. – What Happens When Crazy Meets Clueless

By Susan Kuebler

While most of the United States has been diverted by Donald Trump’s baseless claims that President Obama placed wiretaps on him and his campaign both before and after the election,  the threat of a nuclear attack on the other side of the world has increased exponentially.

Earlier this month the regime of Kim Jong-un launched four missiles in the direction of our ally Japan.  These missiles all landed harmlessly in the Sea of Japan, but three of them landed as close as 300 kilometers to Japan’s northwest coast.  As a direct result of the North Korean actions, Japan held its first civilian evacuation drill for a missile attack in the northwest city of Oga on Friday.

It is no secret that Kim Jong-un is a seriously deranged individual.  He has ruthlessly eliminated anyone he perceives as a threat to his power, including members of his own family.  His preferred method of execution appears to be blowing people up using anti-aircraft weapons.  He has pursued a dream of becoming a nuclear power despite U.N. sanctions and unrelenting diplomatic efforts.  It now appears he is close to realizing his dream – or nightmare for the rest of the world.  The man is crazy.

Newly appointed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been visiting our allies in Southeast Asia since last Wednesday.  His trip first raised eyebrows when he did not allow the traveling press corps to accompany him. This trip began just one day after Kim threatened a ‘MERCILESS’ attack on America in retaliation for joint U.S./South Korea military drills.

According to a report on Friday in The New York Times, Tillerson “ruled out ….any negotiation with North Korea to freeze its nuclear and missile programs and said for the first time that the Trump administration might be forced to take pre-emptive action ‘if they elevate the threat of their weapons program’ to an unacceptable level.”  He then cut short his trip due to “exhaustion.”

This is a dangerously vague statement.  What would constitute “pre-emptive action”?  A first strike nuclear attack on North Korea?  That might take care of North Korea, but how would China respond ?   Students of history remember that General Douglas MacArthur wanted to use nuclear weapons against North Korea during the Korean war, but was overruled by President Harry Truman precisely because of worries about the Chinese response to such an action.

Who determines what is “an unacceptable level”?  The military?  The National Security Council? Or President Trump?

Trump certainly muddied the water this morning when he sent out the following tweet:

Kim Jong-un is definitely reading Trump’s tweets and you can be certain that he takes them literally.  Word for word.  The man who hacked Sony Pictures after they released a movie that mocked him is not going to believe that Trump is only “joking.”  He is also no doubt aware that a Russian spy ship has been cruising 20 miles off the eastern coast of the United States with impunity.  Without question, he will view this as weakness on the part of the Trump administration.

Outgoing President Obama warned Donald Trump that the greatest threat facing our country was North Korea.  Instead of focusing on this, Trump has tried to ram through his executive orders banning Muslims from certain countries entering the U.S.  He appointed as Secretary of State a man with no government or diplomatic experience.  He goes golfing every single weekend.  The man is clueless.

No country has deployed a nuclear weapon against another since the attack on Nagasaki August 9, 1945. The philosophy of MAD (mutually assured destruction) has kept the nuclear powers in check.  But when a crazy person threatens, time and again, his neighbors and one of the most powerful military nations in the world, MAD no longer applies.  When the leader of one of the most powerful military nations in the world is a wanna-be strong man who cannot back down, MAD no longer applies.

In the meantime, Vladimir Putin is no doubt pleased that Trump is now embroiled in a potential military crisis with North Korea and China.  With his backdoor engaged with the United States, Putin is free to focus his attention exactly where he wants it to be – on expanding his power and influence in Western Europe.

 

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