There's been additional escalation in tension between the US and China overnight, with Pyongyang essentially threatening the US with a Nuclear strike:
North Korea has warned of a nuclear attack on the United States, as a US Navy strike group steamed towards the Korean peninsula and US President Donald Trump tweeted that the rogue nation was "looking for trouble".
- North Korea says its "revolutionary strong army is keenly watching" US moves
- Donald Trump has urged China to do more on the North Korea issue
- North Korea is set to celebrate the 105th anniversary of Kim Il-sung's birth
- Mr Trump, who has urged China to do more to rein in its impoverished neighbour, said in a tweet that the United States would "solve the problem" of North Korea with or without China's help.
US Navy strike group heads toward Korean waters amid North Korea nuclear threatKey points:
- A US Navy statement says the aircaft carrier USS Carl Vinson left Singapore on Saturday
- President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart agree to stay in close contact about North Korea and other issues
- The move follows North Korea's recent ballistic missile tests and continued pursuit of a nuclear program
[Disputed] China 'deploys 150,000 troops to deal with possible North Korean refugees over fears Trump may strike Kim Jong-un following missile attack on Syria'
- Trump's Syria strike Friday was widely interpreted as a warning to North Korea
- China, which was left shocked by the air strikes, has deployed medical and backup units from the People's Liberation Army forces to the Yalu River
- The troops have been dispatched to prepare for pre-emptive attacks by the US
This news article is disputed by China, who argues it's South Korean propaganda.
Under different conditions, I'd dismiss these developments as the usual sabre rattling. Each of these things have occurred multiple times in the past, and nothing has come from them. However, there are a few key points of concern over the current situation.
The first is obviously the Trump factor. I don't trust him to put the interests of the world above his own ego. The current political climate in the US doesn't seem to have the grit to reign in an unhinged leader, and Trump seems to have surrounded himself with enablers. It also wouldn't be the first time international conflict has been used to distract Americans from domestic issues. Maybe Trump is a war president. He makes decisions from the Oval Office on foreign-policy matters with war on his mind.
The second is the tension in China from the recently installed THAAD missile defence system in South Korea. This has caused national boycotts of all things Korean in China, who have accused South Korea of being a US puppet, and disturbing the balance of power. If you look at the history of the move, which the US has been pushing for since at least 2013, I think there's room for a little bit of skepticism. North Korean missiles are poorly developed, but they certainly still represent a threat, so it's hard to deny that the system serves a defensive purpose. The furore is that the placement also potentially compromises China's ability to retaliate against the US. If the rumours are true that THAAD systems will also be installed in Taiwan, it could potentially allow the US to strike China with ICBMs, with minimal fear of counter-strikes.
China completely selfishly supports North Korea as a buffer state between it and a close ally of the US, mitigating the potential for a land based invasion. The relationship has become uneasy over the last few years as Beijing has come to realise that North Korea could just as easily turn on the hand that feeds it.
A final point of consideration is that the dictatorship in North Korea is violently oppressive, and truely represents a threat to stability in the region. If there was ever a case for military intervention, this is probably it. Part of the reason this hasn't happened is because it's essentially a Mexican standoff. Any move to disarm NK will most likely result in the destruction of Seoul, and the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives. We don't have a countermeasure for artillery. There's also a very real risk of it developing into war with China, which even if you downplay the human cost and threat of nuclear apocalypse, would be disastrous for the world economy.
The preferable solution from my perspective would be to isolate all forms of support, offer asylum to any North Korean who asks for it, and wait patiently for the regime to collapse. It'd still lead to tragedy, but hopefully less so than conflict. This could be forced through mutually damaging trade sanctions on states that still support the regime, but it's a sacrifice I'm guessing most would be unwilling to make given our dependancy on China.
I'd be interested to hear alternative thoughts, particularly on what strategies military intervention could use to avoid collateral damage in South Korea, or all-out-war with China.
Edited by tastywheat, 12 April 2017 - 12:45 PM.