Any hope that the Trump Administration is hacking away from its bellicose footing with North Korea evaporated Monday morning, with Vice President Mike Pence visiting South Korea, and declaring the “era of strategic patience” toward North Korea to have ended, vowing that the US would achieve their “objectives” in North Korea by whatever means are necessary.
This follows weeks of escalating rhetoric, and speculation that the US might unilaterally attack North Korea, with both Russia and China expressing concern that a war could break out on the Korean Peninsula at any moment. Upon arriving on the scene, Pence was quick to reiterate that “all options are on the table.”
At the same time, Pence held out hope for a “peaceable” solution to North Korea, but once again suggested this was something for China to impose on the nation, something President Trump has already admitted that China probably wouldn’t be able to do easily.
Administration officials continue to be keen to present the US as considering all diplomatic and military options against North Korea, but have repeatedly declared diplomacy to have failed, and refused to consider any of the potential deescalation deals brought by China in recent months.
Over the course of the last week, the Trump Administration repeatedly promised to “take care of” North Korea, and amid reports of a potential nuclear test there were even reports that the US was prepared to attack North Korea if they even think North Korea is about to conduct another nuclear weapons test.
North Korean nuclear tests were previously followed by angry condemnations and threats of more sanctions. That’s kept the Korean War, which began in 1950, from ever really ending, as North Korean offers to negotiate a settlement have been spurned by US officials for years.
Attacking North Korea outright would be something else entirely, and with a US carrier strike group speeding toward the Korean Peninsula, other nations like Russia are expressing growing concern that’s a realistic possibility. If it does happen,, the consequences would be calamitous.
North Korea has been very blunt in their responses to the possibility of a potential attack, insisting they would carry out retaliatory nuclear strikes against US bases in the region, particularly those in South Korea. US officials doubted North Korea’s capability of actually carrying out such a move.
But the White House would be trying to call a very dangerous bluff by attacking and just betting North Korea doesn’t have deliverable nuclear warheads yet. To make matters even worse, North Korea is known to have a massive conventional missile arsenal, which would certainly be in play if the US attacks.
Even before North Korea had a nuclear program, that conventional arsenal was widely feared for having the capability of not only inflicting massive damage and casualties on US bases in South Korea, but having the potential to do devastating amounts of damage to densely populated South Korean cities like Seoul.
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