After Reported H-Bomb Test, Trump Mulls Attacking North Korea

Criticizes South Korea's 'Talk of Appeasement'

North Korea has carried out its sixth nuclear test, this time claiming it to be a hydrogen bomb, representing a major advance in their capabilities. President Trump responded with a new round of threats, as well as new condemnations of diplomacy as a strategy that could be employed.

Again declaring North Korea “a rogue nation,” President Trump publicly faulted South Korea’s calls for diplomacy, labeling it “appeasement,” and insisting that North Korea “only understand one thing.”

Threats to attack North Korea have become so common in the Trump administration that if it really was the only thing North Korea understands, one would’ve figured it would’ve done something by now, other than bringing both sides to the brink of a major war, and one that all analysts agree is going to be disastrously bad for everyone.

When asked if the US was going to attack North Korea, President Trump offered a very unsatisfying “we’ll see,” leading to a flurry of concerns that Trump is not taking a war that would likely kill millions of people very seriously.

Whether or not North Korea really does have a hydrogen bomb now, the nation’s retaliatory capabilities to a US strike are vast, which has long been a deterrent to the US attacking. Ever worsening tensions, exacerbated by President Trump’s bellicosity and very public aversion of diplomacy, risks leading to a calamity.

But the risk of war, vast though it is, is only one concern. President Trump also took a shot at China, declaring it an “embarrassment” to them that they’d been unable to get North Korea to give in to US demands.

Beyond that, Trump and other officials threatened to cut off all US trade to any nation which has any trade with North Korea, a list that includes China, Russia, Pakistan, India, the Philippines, and Thailand, along with several smaller nations.

A trade war of this level risks doing massive damage to the US economy, of course, given how vital a trading partner China is. The threat to cut off all these major nations, however, risks pushing them all into a bloc together against the US.

The risks of the US going down this path are myriad, though the administration is explicitly setting it up as the only option they think is available to them, and going out of their way to dismiss out of hand any alternative that might reduce tensions.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for 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.