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US-North Korea conflict: Is there a war ahead?

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Update: 2017-04-30 06:20:53
US-North Korea conflict: Is there a war ahead? Photo collected

The prospect of a military conflict between the United States and North Korea is growing in recent days.

Few days back, NBC News issued a report, which stated that the Trump administration was prepared to wage a preemptive strike against North Korea if Pyongyang carried out another nuclear test. Later on, this anonymously sourced report was proved to be wrong, and defense and intelligence officials refused the likelihood of such preemptive strike.

The news that the report was wrong is not going to lessen the existing tension. The point to be noted here is that, in his March trip to Asia, the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, refused to rule out a preemptive strike against North Korea by stating, “If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action that option is on the table.”  

Furthermore, Trump’s national security advisor, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, affirmed on ABC’s This Week program, “The president has made very clear that he is not in the business of announcing in advance exactly what he’s going to do.” It seems these sorts of statements are leading to an ambiguous situation about the intention of the U.S. and increasing the fear of North Korea that the US is preparing for a preemptive military strike. 

As the U. S. is faced with series of domestic crises, there are some reasons to think that the US may involve itself in a war with North Korea. The Trump administration’s proposed budget of cutting domestic spending of over 30 percent in some departments, adding some $52 billion to US military spending, and the White House’s push for a health care overhaul that would demolish Medicaid by causing more than 20 million people to lose health care coverage are going to create social discontent within the country.

Under such circumstances, a war with North Korea could be seen as a way of directing social tensions outward. As Naomi Klein, in her book The Shock Doctrine, explained that corporatists would take advantages of such catastrophes. It is often argued that American capitalism thrives on war because war helps boost up American economy by enhancing profits of the arms industries of the US.

The US has many options in its hand to act aggressively and go for a preemptive strike, like it could operate “surgical air strikes” to destroy North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure and facilities. However, the US is not unaware of the risk of toxic radioactive fallout, which would contaminate not only North Korea but also the neighboring counties. The US is also very concern about the ability of North Korea to retaliate against the US-allies – South Korea and Japan – with both conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction. The US is hoped to calculate such consequences of its actions before making any major move towards attacking North Korea.

In this context, another important player is China. President Trump’s recent efforts to cooperate with China and China’s threat to impose sanctions on North Korea are crucial issues that could motivate the US not to involve in a full-scale war with North Korea. China will obviously discourage such move by the US or North Korea towards war because that would result into a nightmare of refugee influx and bring instability in the region including the fear of Japan’s going a nuclear.  

On the other hand, there are excellent reasons to think that, although certainly not quitting its nuclear program, North Korea would not carry out a first-strike nuclear attack. Dr. Benjamin Habib, a lecturer in Politics and International Relations at La Trobe University, pointed out that, North Korea perceives “hard military power” as important means which can ensure the continuation of the Kim family dynasty and North Korea would not like to wage a first-strike attack against the US or its allies unless the existence of the Kim regime is under a real threat.

Now, if North Korea sees the deployment of the USS Carl Vinson battle as defying the perpetuation of the Kim regime, the scenario would be different. Indeed, conducting a first-strike attack against the US, which is the owner of an unparallel nuclear capacity in the world at present, or its allies will bring little good for North Korea. 

To prevent such unwanted hostilities between the US and North Korea from evolving into a nuclear war diplomatic means can be the vital way out. The US, China and North Korea’s attempt to solve the conflict through negotiations would be appreciated and reflect the goodwill of the world leaders and expectations of the peace loving people of the world.

Writer: Tori Luciana Gomes, an independent researcher and can be reached at: [email protected]

BDST: 1617 HRS, APR 30, 2017

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