A New Korean War Would Quickly Escalate

US Attack Would Likely Start With B-1B Bombers

Analysts and defense officials past and present are warning that a potential military exchange with North Korea is unlikely to be a brief, token show of force or a simple trade of fire, and rather would almost certainly quickly escalate into a full-scale war, including potential use of nuclear weapons.

For decades, North Korea’s massive conventional arsenal of artillery and rockets have led to estimates that over a million people could be killed in a new Korean War, and that much of the South Korean capital of Seoul would be leveled in the attacks.

New estimates that North Korea likely has a deliverable nuclear warhead threatens to raise the war to even more catastrophic proportions, as well the US brags of having a superior arsenal, even a small nuclear exchange would have disastrous consequences.

As we look at the possible consequences, former senior military officials talked openly of how the war would likely begin: with a preemptive US strike involving B-1B heavy bombers attacking North Korea from an Air Force base in Guam.

That’s another potentially big problem, however, as many recent US “show of force” actions have involved flying B-1B bombers over the Korean Peninsula. Given this new assessment, it’s even more likely such actions will be misinterpreted by North Korea as a real attack, and have them scrambling to retaliate.

This is potentially even more worrying than the possibility of the US knowingly launching a preemptive strike, despite the growing threats that they might do that. Increasing tension on both sides could readily lead to a miscalculation, and a war accidentally resulting.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.