The latest in a line of tit-for-tat bellicosity across the Korean Peninsula, the North Korean Army Supreme Command has issued a statement saying that they are on “highest alert,” prepared to hit Hawaii and the US mainland.
The Pentagon responded by condemning North Korea, and accusing them of being a “threat to peace on the peninsula.” Of course over the past weeks the Pentagon has been flying nuclear bombers over the portion of South Korean airspace near the border, so both sides seem to be ratcheting up tensions.
Threats against Hawaii and the US West Coast are common for North Korea as well, though North Korea’s missile systems are mostly designed around attacking South Korea, and their ability to reliably hit Hawaii, let alone California, is in serious doubt.
The ever worsening rhetoric on both sides also has China concerned, and foreign policy analysts predict that the new Chinese government may take “concrete steps” to try to calm the situation. They will struggle to find a balance, however, between being tougher on North Korea without “exciting them” into a hostile response.
That’s a tall order. China is North Korea’s only real ally, and as their business interests grow worldwide, they are getting sick of treating North Korea with kid gloves as they get into these repeated rows with the US. At the same time, the whole problem is those rows destabilizing the region, and “handling” them has always ended up a de facto Chinese responsibility since they stand to lose the most from the destabilization on their border.