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By Laura Bohnert
Trump and Jong Un are at it again. Threats for a war between the US and North Korea are rampant on both sides, but how likely is there to be a war? With the way things are going, it is beginning to seem more and more like the question isn’t “if” there will be a war, but “when.”
According to the most recent update on the situation, both countries seem to be waiting for the action that shows the official declaration of war; however, as each leader seems to egg the other on further and further towards that declarative line, the fact that the final decision comes down to interpretation leaves the entire world in a situation of precarity.
On Tuesday, following North Korea’s relocation of fighter jets, an act that has been interpreted as a means of boosting military readiness, US President Donald Trump warned that the US is prepared to use “devastating” military action against North Korea. Another threat to warn Kim Jong Un against challenging the military power of the US. However, while Trump has urged that Jong Un is acting badly and that Pyongyang’s behaviour has been “reckless,” his Twitter storm fails to acknowledge that many of Jong Un’s actions have formed in response to Trump’s looming military presence around North Korea—a presence that Jong Un has recently identified as an act of war.
North Korea’s latest move was observed by US satellite imagery. Aerial surveillance and radar capability in the area has observed Mig-29 aircraft at the site, some of which are carrying missiles and fuel tanks. In addition, one of North Korea’s top diplomats, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, has stated that Trump had “declared a war on his country,” and has threatened to shoot down US aircraft flying off its coastline.
These latest developments haven’t occurred independently of US provocation, though. North Korea moved its fighter jets to a base on its eastern coast following the US’s decision to fly B-1B bombers from Guam in international airspace east of North Korea—the furthest north of the Demilitarized Zone US bombers have flown in the 21st Century. Further, Yong Ho’s statement was issued in response to a tweet from Trump in which he stated that he had “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”
Trump’s provocative rhetoric hasn’t slowed since his tweet—and actions—were considered by North Korea to be a declaration of war. He has since responded to what he refers to as “reckless” and “bad behaviour” by stating that the US is “totally prepared.” “It’s called the military option,” he explains; “If we take that option it will be devastating—devastating—for North Korea.”
Of course, the declaration of war with North Korea would have devastating consequences for more than just North Korea.
In Trump’s own words, “We’ll see what happens,” but as each country seems to come closer to acting on their own interpretations of the other’s war rhetoric, it seems less and less likely that the situation will lead to any other means of resolution.
That might be good news for Trump, though. Amid the continuous threat of impeachment, the start of a war is the best way to ensure Trump gets re-elected for another term.