Not that long ago, the mere threat of a dictatorial power with weapons of mass destruction triggered an unprecedented military response by the United States. Today, the unstable, uncontrollable dictator of North Korea has launched multiple intercontinental ballistic missiles and successfully detonated a nuclear bomb and Washington has made little effort to stop him.
On the surface, Kim Jong-un comes across like a bad caricature of a Cold War villain from a James Bond movie, temperamental and power-mad, bent on world domination. But, if he were anyone else, living anywhere else, his borderline psychotic behavior would have him either on death row or in a facility for the criminally insane.
By a curious coincidence, Kim’s highest profile opponent, President Donald Trump, exhibits many of the same qualities, sans the murderous psychosis. Fortunately for Americans and the rest of the world, U.S. president has limitations under the law and shares an equal level of power with the judicial and legislative branches. He’s not going to be permitted to simply turn the key and press the launch button without oversight.
Trump’s inexperience dealing with the potential mass murder of millions of innocent civilians could result in disaster if not properly managed. Reports out of the administration indicate that Trump’s advisors are only now considering that North Korea’s weapons development may not be strictly for defense.
North Korea is a tiny country, about 82 times smaller than the U.S., whose very nature invites conflict. Its active and reserve military numbers more than 6.4 million out of a total population of just 25.1 million people. It’s hard to imagine they’re developing this kind of weaponry for any purpose other than offensive strikes, especially when the country has threatened missile launches toward Guam and other nearby U.S. protectorates?
While options for a diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear issue should be maintained, there is a very real possibility that the country’s actions will eventually require a military response. It is unlikely that sanctions and saber rattling will be enough to force Kim to dial back testing of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. For him, it’s about taking a tiny, isolated family regime and making them a world power – and he’s well on his way.
It seems like China and Russia, or even Japan, would work together on this one to knock Kim off his high horse, so to speak, and squelch the threat to their own interests. But even if North Korea succeeded in launching a nuke at one of the world powers, the country would have a life span of only a few minutes after it detonated. A nuclear response from the U.S. or Russia would end Kim’s regime and kick this tiny communist society back to the stone age in moments.
At the same time, it seems like any confrontation of North Korea that begins with conventional weapons and troops probably wouldn’t end that way. Desperation and megalomania would force Kim Jong-un to use any weapons of mass destruction at his disposal to fight, even if there was no hope of survival – for him or his country’s government. The potential for such an incredible loss of civilian life and long-term environmental damage on all sides wouldn’t even register with a crazed madman like him.
Most frightening of all is, once again, Trump and company’s evident lack of any understanding of the gravity of this situation. He can’t solve this problem with money or a Twitter bombing. IF anything, all he’s been doing is fanning the flames.
Right now, what is needed is skilled diplomacy, not so much with North Korea, but with our allies in the surrounding areas. As an armchair quarterback opinion, it seems that a greater, more aggressive, effort should be made by our own state department and the Trump administration to tighten the hold on Kim’s resources – starve him out, as it were.
To date, however, sanctions and other restrictions have done little to diminish the dictator’s bluster. Therefore, it’s vital that Trump and the United Nations not underestimate Kim going forward. He is a crazed tyrant with his finger on the button and absolutely no reservations about killing millions, even of his own people.