North Korea, Nukes, and the Probability of World War III

by Robert Carbery

A conflict in North Korea, according to U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, “would be probably the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes,” he told John Dickerson in a Sunday interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
 
The United States has had thousands and thousands of troops in South Korea (23,500 today) since the Korean War and in nearby Japan we have 39,000 even this long after World War II.
 
War with North Korea has never looked likely until recent months. And even then, we were kept assured by the fact that the Koreans in the North did not look much closer to being able to successfully deliver a nuclear weapon. That was the case until this last Sunday.
 
North Korea tested a new missile that was much more effective than anything they’ve ever launched before. A new long-range surface-to-surface missile was launched early Sunday morning, flying about 430 miles, but since the weapon was lofted on purpose, some analysts suspect it could potentially hit a target 2,800 miles away if fired along a flatter trajectory.
 
Just when we all suspected World War III would be set off in Syria when Russia/Iran went to war with the U.S. and its Arab allies over the still simmering civil war there, it now looks like North Korea is the perfect trigger for World War III. With China and Russia both wanting North Korea to stay alive in the long term, this powder keg of a peninsula is looking increasingly ready to blow.
 
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un warned us on Tuesday that he will be sending a bigger “gift package” to the U.S., feeling confident after its third missile test in recent weeks. The North will continue to develop its missile program as it makes multiple leaps forward in recent weeks in defiance of the international community.  
 
www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUM3cdClnwg
 
What will be interesting to see is how the U.S. and its ally in arms Japan and others will respond to this action in coordination with South Korea.
 
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan told reporters recently that they will continue to work with the United States and “take specific action to deter North Korea.” Drills have been underway by these two heavily armed nations readying for conflict in Korea.
 
George Friedman in Geopolitical Futures wrote recently of the many signs showing why military action on the Korean Peninsula is becoming increasingly likely.
 
The U.S. has some big pieces in the region already. The USS Carl Vinson has been off the coast for weeks. The USS Ronald Reagan in Japan has recently joined the Carl Vinson and the USS Theodore Roosevelt at port in San Diego will be deploying soon to an undisclosed location. According to Friedman, the plan of attack on North Korea would destroy its nuclear facilities and artillery batteries via air strikes from aircraft carriers and stealth strikes from Andersen Air Force Base in nearby Guam.
 
What’s scary is we really don’t know exactly how North Korea would react to and/or counter an attack. Its leaders are seemingly prepared and just as armed to the teeth as us — daring Washington to attack. However, as Mattis mentioned, war in Korea would catastrophic, the worst kind of fighting we’ve ever seen.
 
Friedman declared that “North Koreans are neither ignorant nor psychotic.” This is true, its people are brainwashed and their leader is likely deranged. “Strange as it may sound,” Friedman went on, “ignorant psychotics don’t build nuclear weapons and missiles. Rational actors who feel cornered do.” Kim Jong Un is probably acting in self defense and he is definitely cornered. But is he rational? He seems to just say crazy things so far.
 
The U.S. is allowed to have nukes along with only a handful of other nations and we are the only one to have used one and we test them all the time, but with the North Korea tests, the world stops and scares itself half to death.
 
Our best hope seems to lie in China, the North’s largest trading partner by far.  
 
China’s foreign minister warned that no one has the right to bring war or chaos to the Korean Peninsula. If they do, they will bear responsibility. No doubt a shot at the U.S. debating preemptive military action against the erratic yet enduring Kim regime.
 
Whatever happens, we need to think about the many lives that are at stake on said Peninsula. Any attack against the North would likely result in mass amounts of civilian and military casualties. However, this nuclear armed regime is getting dangerously close to being able to launch a devastating weapon to U.S. soil.
 
Do we wait for them to get there or stop them while we can? Or can we do anything to stop them without inflicting a massive amount of casualties?
 

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