There has been much saber rattling of late around the globe, noise emanating from the United Nations, China, Russia, the United States and the ever present North Korea. The small Asian nation with a dreadful Napoleon complex just can’t seem to stay off the national stage when it comes to its persistent need to try and prove some semblance of military and political superiority to the West.
North Korea has become increasingly emboldened in its actions since the beginning of this year, one could argue that coincidence of the behavior occurring after a new administration has entered the White House is probably no coincidence at all. North Korea is no doubt eager to see how far they can push and what they can get away with. President Trump has not spoken kindly of North Korea since before his inauguration, between dubbing the North Korean dictator a “maniac” and blasting the countries nuclear program as yet another failure of Hilary Clinton and the Obama administration she was a key part of there is little love for the Kim Jong-Un from the current POTUS.
Kim Jong-Un has certainly become brazen as of late. The dictator had his brother, Kim Jong Nam, murdered by North Korean spies last month at a Malaysian airport but the biggest threats that he has communicated to the West have come in the launching of four ballistic missiles that landed inside Japanese territory in the Sea of Japan. Many see the launch as a response to joint drills between U.S. and South Korean military forces, something the despot vehemently condemned.
The White House has doubled down on its tough stance with North Korea it would seem. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is currently touring Asia, meeting with representatives of South Korea this past week to show solidarity with the nation against its northern counterpart.
Today though, Tillerson has now taken a hard-line stance against North Korea. He states that the time for diplomacy with the communist nation has ended saying “Let me be very clear: this policy of strategic patience has ended,”. He went on to declare that military actions, including preemptive strikes are now viable options to deal with the increasingly belligerent nation.
These threats come as the United States has stated that it will no longer negotiate a nuclear armament freeze with North Korea and that they “…must understand that the only path to a secure, economically prosperous future is to abandon its development of nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and other weapons of mass destruction.”
This hardened stance is now being backed up with an increased show of force from the United States which has just deployed an aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson to South Korea as a display of force and resolve. This new stance can also help explain the jungle warfare training that is being undertaken by the U.S. Army in Hawaii. This flexing of military muscle is also to enforce comments by Tillerson that any increase in threat by North Korea though too dangerous would also warrant military action by the United States and South Korea.
The Secretary of State is scheduled to meet with representatives from China on Saturday after he departs South Korea to attempt to convince the Asian superpower to assist in regulations and sanctions against North Korea in an attempt to strong arm it into the United States demands. While in China Tillerson will also no doubt attempt to convince the nation to retreat from its aggression towards South Korea’s deployment of it’s THAAD missile systems. Something China argues is dangerous and detrimental to its own national security. Tillerson hopes to convince China however that the THAAD system is only necessary due to the dangers posed by North Korea and that by cooperating to strip North Korea of its nuclear arsenal the THAAD system may no longer be needed. Regardless of the outcome it would seem that President Trump has no qualms about blasting China publically as per his tweets today
Tillerson has no doubt inherited a mess, one that he is attempting to navigate and fix to a degree that would allow for cooperation between South Korea, Japan, China and the United States in order to force North Korea to back down and surrender its nuclear arsenal. The only problem is that regardless of how successful any coordination between the nations is, North Korea may not cooperate. Kim Jong Un has shown that he is brash and egotistical, both qualities that hardly instill confidence in a dictator.
Ultimately though, this is yet another great test for a young administration, one that has come under fire for its perceived escalation of the conflict in Syria due to the deployment of U.S. Marines to the war torn nation and has drawn criticism for its desire to spend a historic budget on improving the military. We can now add North Korea as a new flash point to watch as we see if President Trump fully embraces the military industrial complex and allows war profiteering to increase under his watch or if he will be able to flex enough muscle to get results without dragging the nation into another shooting war.