If you are like most of us, in that you only follow the news in the periphery of your consciousness by either clicking links on Facebook or watching the latest Last Week Tonight, you may have a small, nagging suspicion that at any moment the world will careen into a nuclear Armageddon due to escalating tensions between North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and “The Donald.” While I certainly should hope this isn’t the case (after all, Game of Thrones hasn’t quite finished yet), it behooves the thinking person to develop an awareness of the current, tense political standoff occurring between us and the North Korean regime. To begin our North Korea Situation for Dummies® as it were, let’s take a look at the facts on the ground:
FACT: North Korea is the country north of South Korea. Surprise, surprise.
FACT: This east-Asian impoverished country of about 25.3 million people is widely considered a totalitarian dictatorship reminiscent of fascism/communism, with countless human rights violations.
FACT: North Korea is a nuclear power. It is estimated that they have stockpiled anywhere from 2-10 plutonium warheads, and up to 27 weaker uranium warheads.
Since Kim Jong Un stepped up as the leader of North Korea, he has tested 84 missiles, nearly double the number of tests of his father and grandfather combined. Over this past summer, on July 4th, Kim tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that is capable of reaching the US mainland. If such a missile were perfected and a nuclear warhead were to be attached, it would take a mere 30 minutes for it to reach the US. Analysts are predicting that such a weapon will exist in North Korea’s arsenal before the president’s first term is up. North Korea has further released detailed plans to attack the US territory of Guam. The UN responded to the missile test by placing strict sanctions on various commodities that make up a third of North Korea’s commerce. It is suspected that the overall goal of the North Korean nuclear program is an invasion and retaking of the now-Democratic South Korea. Whatever the case may be, it seems as if North Korea thinks that a large army and nukes are all that keeps villainous invaders, like the US, at bay.
The president has responded very aggressively to all of this. He has been quoted as saying that further threats from North Korea will be met by “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” and his Twitter account has displayed such comments like, “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely.” On both sides of this conflict are very aggressive, mercurial leaders, and neither is giving way. They seem to feed off of each other’s belligerence, which is how this has escalated so quickly.
There are really two possible tracks of responses to North Korea that the US can take:
1) Acceptance- to accept that North Korea is a nuclear power, but to somehow force them to keep it peaceful, through Mutually Assured Destruction, sabotage, or other more diplomatic efforts.
2) Forcible Denial- to attempt to severely curtail or destroy the North Korean nuclear program. This track most certainly must involve military action.
Which is the best route to take? And which path is President DJ headed down? Let’s see what QC students have to say:
Zac “Rac” Cohen, freshman, said, “We, America, cannot be in the dark about the North Korean nuclear program. We cannot be naive. They have nuclear weapons and have been threatening to use them; we should not take this lightly. They are unstable and a serious threat. We need to take care of them, and take their weapons away, before it’s too late.”
David Musheyev, freshman, said “I wouldn’t want to deal with North Korea when they already have nuclear weapons. When I heard Trump call Kim Jong ‘rocket-man’ or say statements like ‘fight fire with fury,’ I thought Trump was a nutcase. Look, I don’t want to go to war because I, along with my fellow QC peers, am enlisted in the reserves. I don’t want another Korean or Vietnam war. However, his statements did lead to Russia and China imposing sanctions. Time will tell if this was a good move…”
Here’s to hoping we live through the rest of the year.