It seems new developments regarding North Korea’s terrifying nuclear program or its extremely hostile relationship with the U.S. are coming out nearly every day now (just hours ago, news of Mike Pence’s sinister declaration at Korea’s DMZ broke from Reuters), and it has led many Americans to worry about the North Korean government snapping and carrying out a drastic attack. But is North Korea really the country we should be watching? Recent testament from experts suggests that a North Korean attack is actually extremely unlikely, whereas offensive action by its neighbor to the south is probably the real danger.
I should make it clear before going any further that I am not talking about an attack carried out by South Korea against the United States; the two countries are still very friendly with one another, as they have been since the Korean war of the early 50s.
No, I am referring instead to a South Korean attack on North Korea, which many scholars, such as Politico magazine columnist William J. Perry, say could start a chain reaction leading to a huge war, maybe even World War 3.
“The danger is not, as some believe, that North Korea will make good on its bluster and actually launch a surprise nuclear attack,” Perry writes.
“The North Korean leadership, while it is evil and sometimes reckless, is not crazy or suicidal… they know that if they launch a nuclear attack, the American response would bring death to them and devastation to their country.”
Throwing around terms like “World War 3” may sound pretty drastic, but South Korea is a major superpower and would pull in a lot of allies to join it in its fight against what many view as an oppressive rogue nation. The U.S., what with its close ties to South Korea and less-than-friendly history with North Korea, would undoubtedly top that list.
How about the other side, though? It would seem that, although many countries around the world might come to South Korea’s aid in the case of a conflict between them and their estranged sibling country, few countries would be willing to fight with North Korea. After all, Kim Jong-un has not made a lot of friends since coming to power in 2011.
First of all, as Aljazeera notes, China is North Korea’s greatest diplomatic ally. North Korea itself may not be too formidable, but the same cannot be said for China, which contains nearly one-fifth of earth’s population and is a world superpower.
Also, much of the world at this point views Donald Trump, the leader of the American government, as an even scarier figure than North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un. Sure, America has a much better track record than North Korea and has historically been a relatively sensible country. Yet, the recently inducted president, similar to the newest Supreme Leader, is considered by many to be overly violent, irrational, and unpredictable, and both men are often depicted as having overly sensitive trigger fingers. The big difference is that Donald Trump has an infinitely larger and more threatening military presence to back him up.
Well-respected British publication the Independent backed this opinion up yesterday with an article about how dangerous Trump is.
“Kim Jong-un may be more of a wildcard than Trump, but he’s not as ignorant.”
That is not to say that Britain will be siding with North Korea against the U.S. anytime soon; the alliance between America and its mother country is much too strong, and North Korea’s values are far too removed from those of the U.K.
Look at other countries, though, who are not as closely tied to the U.S. and who might be worried about what Donald Trump would do if left unchecked. They likely do not want the already uncontrollable military power that is the United States of America to gain ground on the world stage, and they would not want the U.S.’s biggest threat in terms of nuclear attack possibility to be removed.
There are also the countries that are not only allies with America but are run by governments (or, in many cases, shadier organizations) that do not approve of many aspects of the developed world. Sure, they are not best buddies with Kim’s regime, but they would likely not stand by while America and its allies brought down a major enemy.
The U.S. is currently in the process of gently persuading China into suggesting North Korea de-weaponize itself. If this could be done, it would go a very long way towards putting South Korea at ease and assuring an attack will not happen.
The operation of defusing North Korea with Chinese intervention must be done with the care and finesse of defusing a bomb, though, and as we know, neither “care” nor “finesse” are the fortes of our current leader.
[Featured Image by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images]