North Korea-US standoff

Kashmir Times. Dated: 12/7/2017 2:09:33 PM

Belligerent rhetoric cannot ward off the threat of a deadly war that will be disastrous for rest of the world

Whether or not the chance of war between United States and North Korea is real or not, Japan has already pressed the panic button and US government officials are burning midnight oil convincing everybody that it is just a matter of when. Are these the rules of engagement in politicking at the foreign affairs level or is the war, needless to forget the possibility of a nuclear strike, imminent? It is difficult to predict in a world dictated by irresponsible and ambitious leaders. The tensions between US-North Korea have peaked ever since Pyongyang tested a long-range missile, more than a week ago, that is potentially capable of hitting the entire mainland US, including Washington. The test has been met with a rash dose of American jingoism with reports hinting at the possibility of American president Donald Trump willing to press the nuke button in panic or retaliation. The US officials have begun talking about moving American citizens living in South Korea out. The actual capability of the north-Korean nuclear missile is not quite known. Neither is it known to what extent Trump would prefer military strikes as retaliation to diplomacy which would bring him in clear negotiations with the Russia-China axis. It is not known how much of this threat is actual political bluff amidst US effort to retain its status as the sole super-power and North Korea's race for survival. With leaders like Trump in US and Kim Jong Un in North Korea, it would be difficult to predict. Furious public statements, as witnessed in the last one week, can go either side. Whatever be the potential of the new North Korean missile, it can attack US and cause damage to whatever extent, but North Korea certainly has the US in a quandary. If US is serious about carrying out its threat, North Korea would retaliate not only against America but also its allies South Korea and Japan. According to experts, a possible war is likely to kill 100,000 people in Seoul alone. These may be modest estimates, since they don't take into account the possibility of nuclear strikes. But if Trump is bluffing, there are as yet no signs of the belligerence of words enabling North Korea to come to a negotiating table. It continues to strengthen its resolve to advancing its arsenal capacity and pushing the world to increased war risks.
There are three possible outcomes to the ongoing North Korea-United States tensions. One is accidental war, the consequences of which would be so grave that it must be avoided at all costs. Another is that the North Koreans will continue to grow their nuclear weapons programme indefinitely with America continuing to shout its mouth as much as it wishes. Third, is the magnanimity and patience of making the transition from bellicose rhetoric to diplomatic negotiations. The best that the US can get the North Korea to do is to freeze its nuclear programme. The trick is not only dealing with the bargaining capacity of North Korea but also China and Russia, which too would have stakes. The geo-strategic location of North Korea offers China the greater leverage powers. America is obviously wary of this and would like to avoid such an eventuality that is likely to put a limit on its own powerful stature. The choice before the US is to beat Chinese-Russian skills at diplomacy or enhance the dangers of the first two possibilities. It is needless to point out that neither of the two have the ability to ward off the threat of a nuclear strike. How this threat pans out in an already polarized world, with middle-east becoming more and more complex and volatile and with South Asian sub-continent equally sitting on a powder keg. Two of the nuclear flashpoints right now exist in Asia and it is time to think of better diplomacy, patience and better politics that can begin a process of rolling back the nukes and the threat they portend.



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