Once upon a time, there was a kid who carried a hand grenade with him to school. He claimed to have a whole lot of hand grenades at home, and was always threatening teachers and students that, if you got him mad, he would use them one day. He occasionally dug a hole in the ground and tested his hand grenades to make sure they were good to go at all times.
This kid was used to getting his way in his home town. He came from an influential family and there was no one who could punish him for his bad behavior. Lately, he had been playing with model rockets, and dreamed of when he might figure out how to attach a hand grenade to one and take out his next-door neighbor. Maybe he could get his rocket to go far enough, one day, to obliterate that tough-talking kid with the funny hair on the other side of town.
By now, I’ll bet you’ve figured out the identity of our bad egg: Kim Jong-un, supreme leader of North Korea.
Kim has ratcheted up the rhetoric recently, and his continued testing of intercontinental missiles and, soon, nuclear bombs is making everyone, and I mean everyone, nervous. The United States has a naval force that, it is thought, is scheduled to arrive in the region at the end of April. In return, Russia is monitoring the situation via submarine. Even China, North Korea’s main ally, is beginning to feel the pressure from a world that wonders if we’re on the brink of war. Their submarines are also tailing the U.S. fleet. The question is: Will the Doomsday Clock finally strike twelve?
The Kim dynasty has a long history of inflammatory statements threatening South Korea and the U.S. with annihilation. For decades, this strategy has worked just fine to get concessions from their Southern neighbor, the U.S., and the world community. Now, however, there’s a new sheriff in town, and tougher talk by President Trump is calling North Korea’s bluff.
But no one knows if it’s really a bluff. Could generations of bad genes have produced a maniac with so little respect for nuclear weapons? Is the kid ready to pull the pin on the grenade? It’s clear that any attempts at regime change, a la Syria, will light the fuse to the powder keg. Is the administration, in making the point that this isn’t the old, wimpy U.S., reigniting the Korean War?
Recently, North Korea celebrated the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il-jung. Ryan Pickrell of The Daily Caller reported that this joyous occasion also debuted footage of a simulated nuclear strike on the United States. Accompanied by an orchestra, the film showed a ballistic missile hitting a city, followed by a scene of a cemetery with a tattered American flag.
Perhaps the question should be how hostilities have been avoided for this long. A few hundred yards have separated people at war (the Korean War “ended” with a truce, not a peace treaty) for 65 years. With internal troubles as basic as the inability to feed his own people, wouldn’t armed conflict be a peachy way for Kim to keep North Koreans’ empty stomachs off their minds? Plus, why parade all these great TMD’s (Toys of Mass Destruction) around if you can’t use them?
To Kim Jong-un, the nuclear deterrent may no longer be a deterrent. Call me pessimistic, but I don’t expect the saber-rattling to end any time soon. Kim’s paranoia about future missile strikes against him, combined with a more assertive West, will keep the situation on a razor’s edge for the foreseeable future.