The Obama administration has sent nuclear-capable B-2 bombers to drop munitions on a South Korean island, in an unprecedented move intended to intimidate North Korea.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has repeatedly issued threats of war to South Korea and belligerently criticized the US, despite the North’s comparatively pathetic military capabilities – a deficiency Washington is fully aware of.
The US called the dramatic show of force a joint military drill with South Korea, but it is transparently understood to be a direct threat to North Korea.
“The announcement will likely draw a strong response from Pyongyang,” reports The Associated Press. “North Korea sees the military drills as part of a U.S. plot to invade and becomes particularly upset about U.S. nuclear activities in the region.”
Nevertheless, the US continues to militarily antagonize the mercurial authoritarian government in Pyongyang.
“The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea,” political activists Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers wrote earlier this month. “In November 2012 the US upgraded its weapons systems and announced an agreement with Japan that would allow South Korea to bomb anywhere in North Korea.”
This aggressive approach has served only to increase instability and tensions.
“Wise statesmen learn to abandon obsolete or unworkable policies,” writes Ted Galen Carpenter, senior fellow for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, and Obama “needs to show the same judgment and courage by making a sustained effort at the highest level to establish something at least resembling a normal relationship with Pyongyang.”
Not only is Washington’s confrontational militarism counter-productive, it’s also an extremely expensive way to unnecessarily intimidate a weak adversary.
According to the Center for Public Integrity, the B-2 stealth bombers cost $3 billion each and have flight costs estimated to be $135,000 per hour. At a minimum, writes John Hudson at Foreign Policy, that puts the cost of flying two of these bombers to Korea at $5.5 million.