By Andrew Witzel

In another round of “mine’s bigger than yours”, North Korea has amped up the rhetoric saying that they will “wipe out” the United States if Washington starts a war on the peninsula. Despite most still believing that North Korea is far from reaching its goal of a missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, it hasn’t stopped the secretive nation from thumping its chest in its local media outlets. Two rocket tests have been carried out in April alone and reports are that they are working towards testing a 6th nuclear weapon in the coming weeks. The super carrier Carl Vinson is due to arrive in the waters off the Korea peninsula within days and the Rodong Sinmun newspaper has said the country is undeterred calling the arrival “undisguised military blackmail.”

Every spring, when the U.S. and South Korea hold joint military exercises, the rhetoric intensifies in Pyongyang as they see it as rehearsals for an attack on the North. Much like two bullies posturing for dominance on the playground, that is exactly what is happening. North Korea says they’re prepared to make the United States a nuclear wasteland and the United States, along with South Korea, show their military might with exercises just south of North Korea’s border. There is no doubt who would prevail if the posturing turned into actual war, however there would be significant damage on both sides especially since North Korea really has nothing left to lose if a war actually did break out. Their population is already poor, hungry and beaten down by a fear wielding dictator; what’s really left?

It doesn’t help that the Trump administration has fed into North Korea’s rhetoric by repeatedly taking actions that are nothing more than veiled threats towards North Korea’s regime. Trump has already ordered a military strike in Syria and Afghanistan. Targeted or not, it sends a clear message to North Korea that the United States isn’t just blowing smoke and puffing out their chests. There is one big difference that Syria and Afghanistan don’t have; nuclear weapons. It’s the nuclear card that North Korea has that they probably aren’t afraid to use if pushed past a certain point that has yet to be determined. If the United States doesn’t temper their actions, it could be the soldiers in the Carl Vinson strike group, South Korea, Japan and China that suffer the consequences. It’s easy for the United States to make threats when they’re thousands of miles to the east across the Pacific.

US officials have repeatedly warned that “all options are on the table”

It’s time that the Trump administration takes a hard long look at their future decisions and determines whether a continued show of force, implied or otherwise, is worth it in the bigger picture of North Korea foreign policy. Right now, North Korea and the United States are just two bullies squaring off on the playground. Perhaps Trump should take a few anti-bully courses at the local public school.  It’s anyone’s guess who is going to throw the first punch?

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