The Drumbeats Don’t Add Up to Imminent War With North Korea 

WASHINGTON — President Trump summoned all 100 members of the Senate for a briefing by his war cabinet on the mounting tensions with North Korea. An American submarine loaded with Tomahawk missiles surfaced in a port in South Korea. Gas stations in the North shut down amid rumors that the government was stockpiling fuel.

Americans could be forgiven for thinking that war is about to break out. But it is not.

The drumbeat of bellicose threats and military muscle-flexing on both sides overstates the danger of a clash between the United States and North Korea, senior Trump administration officials and experts who have followed the Korean crisis for decades said. While Mr. Trump regards the rogue government in the North as his most pressing international problem, he told the senators he was pursuing a strategy that relied heavily on using China’s economic leverage to curb its neighbor’s provocative behavior.

Recent American military moves — like deploying the submarine Michigan and the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson to the waters off the Korean Peninsula — were aimed less at preparing for a pre-emptive strike, officials said, than at discouraging the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, from conducting further nuclear or ballistic missile tests.

“In confronting the reckless North Korean regime, it’s critical that we’re guided by a strong sense of resolve, both privately and publicly, both diplomatically and militarily,” Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., the Pentagon’s top commander in the Pacific, told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

“We want to bring Kim Jong-un to his senses,” he said, “not to his knees.”

There are other signs that the tensions fall short of war. Mr. Kim continues to appear in public, most recently at a pig farm last weekend. South Koreans are not flooding supermarkets to stock up on food. There is no talk of evacuating cities and no sign the United States is deploying additional forces to South Korea. Nor is the American Embassy in Seoul advising diplomats’ families to leave the country.

All those things happened in the spring of 1994, when President Bill Clinton was considering a pre-emptive strike on a North Korean reactor to prevent the North from extracting plutonium that it could use to make a bomb. That is the closest the United States has come to a military clash with North Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

“The reality is not as tense as the rhetoric on both sides would lead you to believe,” said Joel S. Wit, an expert on North Korea at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

None of this is to say there is no risk of miscalculation that could escalate into hostilities. Mr. Trump’s penchant for provocative statements introduced an element of unpredictability to a relationship in which the uncertainty has historically been on the North Korean side. How Mr. Kim reacts is the major variable in a complicated equation … (read more)

Source: NYT


One Comment on “The Drumbeats Don’t Add Up to Imminent War With North Korea ”

  1. Bullright says:

    So they don’t tell us how to prepare for the non-inevitability of events? (sarcasm and cynicism applied)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.