This week, the President of the United States said that he would respond to North Korea with “fire and fury” and also issued a threat to North Korea via Twitter that the American military was “locked and loaded.” North Korea said, the American president is “senile” and “golfs too much” reports New York Daily News. Reuters reports that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has referred to the North Korea threat as “rhetoric” and “over the top.”
Russia is still hoping “common sense will prevail.”
Trump’s North Korea threat has caused alarm and panic in Americans and the American military. The North Korea threat has also created uncertainty in the stock market, reports the New York Times, with sell-offs accelerating on Friday alongside the accelerated tensions between the United States and North Korea.
Sell-offs in the global market rose in London Friday, and Asian stock markets and European indexes opened “sharply down” as two world leaders slung zings at each other this week under the threat of nuclear war. The New York Times reports that the Hong Kong Index also fell this week, as did South Korea, France, and Germany, who were all down by noon on Friday, London time.
On Friday, the Japanese yen and Swiss franc both closed stronger, as did the price of gold. As tensions rose world wide over Trump’s North Korea threat, General Kim Rak Gyom of North Korea poked fun at the American president for golfing while failing to “grasp the ongoing grave situation” reports the New York Daily News.
The general went on to say that Trump was “extremely getting on the nerves” of the North Korean military. He also reportedly said it was not possible to have a dialogue “with such a guy bereft of reason who is going senile.”
The nuclear stand off between North Korea and the United States began while President Trump was on what he refers to as a “working vacation” at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf course. He was seen golfing on Wednesday, just hours after tweeting reminders to the world that he holds the power to activate America’s nuclear arsenal.
The president does require support from his Cabinet to launch a nuclear war, but only needs two votes to launch the missiles reports The Atlantic.
Whether or not the United States will engage in a nuclear fashion remains to be seen. It would be expected by Americans, Congress, and the world, to only come in response to a first strike by North Korea. The Atlantic reports a first strike by North Korea would be “highly unlikely” as Kim Jong Un has no reason to dispense a nuclear attack at this time.
The nuclear arsenal of North Korea is reportedly not as equipped as the United States. For Kim Jong Un to enter into this war with a first strike, it would “almost certainly assure his destruction” reports The Atlantic. Nuclear missile tests by North Korea, however, are a different story.
If North Korea engages strikes on Guam as soon as next week, the United States would respond, and likely in conventional, or, non-nuclear fashion. The United States currently has 28,500 troops in South Korea, and 54,000 stationed in Japan. Despite the banter between the world leaders at present, there is no direct threat to the United States at this time.
Further, if President Trump continues his threats on North Korea, he is unlikely to have global support for the “locked and loaded” military action he is proposing.
Even so, Democrats in Congress are hoping to do something to prevent Trump from pulling the trigger on the nuclear arsenal.
The North Korea threat is precisely what many feared, and warned against, during the campaign season of Elections 2016. It was Hillary Clinton that tweeted on the topic just over one year ago when she said the following.
“A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”
"A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons." —Hillary
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 29, 2016
The nuclear threat and trusting Donald Trump with nuclear weapons was something that Hillary Clinton warned Americans about throughout the entire campaign.
It’s a notion that did not go away when the election campaign did. Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling on the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, to bring Congress back early from recess to face the escalating tensions and the nuclear North Korea threat reports The Hill. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a letter to Speaker Ryan on Friday saying Congress needs to act immediately.
“In light of the ongoing standoff between the United States and North Korea, as well as President Trump’s reckless words, I ask that you immediately call the House of Representatives back into session to debate legislation prohibiting the U.S. from conducting a pre-emptive nuclear strike without prior congressional authorization.”
Rep. Cicilline also said, “The president’s words matter” and accused the president of failing to seek a diplomatic solution, and instead using words that “have been harmful.” He also reminded Speaker Ryan that Congress has a responsibility to de-escalate situations before a nuclear war should occur. He further reminded Speaker Ryan that millions of Americans live within range of North Korea’s missiles.
“If the president will not diffuse this situation, then Congress must.”
While it does appear that the banter between world leaders is just banter, the global consensus, and that of the American Congress on both sides of the aisle, is that the North Korea threat is very real. Even so, Russia, while acknowledging that reality, still referred to the banter as “rhetoric” and “over the top” reports Reuters.
Reuters reported that on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister said Moscow was “deeply worried” by the threats going back and forth between Pyongyang and Washington. He said the risk of military conflict is “very high” and also hopes that common sense will prevail.
“Unfortunately, the rhetoric in Washington and Pyongyang is now starting to go over the top. We still hope and believe that common sense will prevail. Direct threats of using force are heard. The talk (in Washington) is that there must be a preventive strike made on North Korea, while Pyongyang is threatening to carry out a missile strike on the U.S. base in Guam. These threats continue non-stop and they worry us a lot.”
Sergey Lavrov also said he would not go into speculations on “what if” or what could happen. He said, “We will do whatever we can to prevent this ‘if.'” The preventive measure that Russia is proposing is a diplomatic solution. Russia is hoping that both the United States and North Korea will join Russia and China under a jointly signed agreement.
Under this agreement, North Korea would freeze its missile testing, and both the United States and South Korea would impose a moratorium on any large-scale military action. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that if this could happen, “then we can sit down and start from the very beginning….which will stress respect for the sovereignty of all those parties involved including North Korea.”
Donald Trump’s tweets express hope that North Korea will not act unwisely, in addition to issuing the North Korea threat. But North Korea has not precipitated action to begin with.
Despite this, Trump has made it very clear he is considering military action. Should a nuclear action occur, the global fear is that those actions would precipitate World War 3. How the North Korea threat will make America great again remains to be seen.
[Feature Image by Ahn Young-joon/AP Images]