Donald Trump’s decision to match Kim Jong-un insult for insult and threat for threat creates a serious risk of misjudgment and mistake.
How America and North Korea Could Start a Nuclear War
The Cold War was marked by hysteria over the potential for nuclear conflict. School kids practiced getting under their desks and families built bomb shelters in case the missiles fell. Although there were moments of acute danger, most notably the Cuban Missile Crisis, the world seemed to enter a new age when the Soviet Union collapsed. Small wars continued, but the famed nuclear doomsday clock finally moved backwards.
Yet the possibility of nuclear war again is dominating international headlines. A foreign government is building nuclear weapons and ICBMs to target the United States. And the president of the United States is now threatening to destroy that nation. People have begun to share their parents’ fear of nuclear warheads raining down upon American cities.
Fear-mongering is hardly new in American politics. But President Donald Trump’s decision to match North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un insult for insult and threat for threat creates a serious risk of misjudgment and mistake. Neither the United States nor the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea desires war, but the spectacle of the two nations’ leaders behaving like participants in a cockfight demonstrates that these are unusual times.
Most analysts who know the Korean Peninsula realize that war is not an option, at least absent a well-grounded belief that conflict truly is inevitable and the only question is how it starts and is conducted. There are some—Sen. Lindsey Graham comes to mind—who suggest that a Second Korean War wouldn’t be such a big deal because it would not be “over here.” Of course, the U.S. military would be involved in any fight and the North probably has the capability to hit American bases in the region.
Even if Pyongyang currently lacks the ability to…