North Korea is constantly expressing concern about the growing number of US military drills along their border, and while US officials have insisted such drills are routine, it’s hard not to see the nature of them as inherently hostile toward the North Korean government.
The most recent drill, entitled “Warrior Strike,” was a four day simulation of a joint US-South Korea ground invasion of North Korea involving locating and seizing all of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
Such an operation would be seen as the threat of all threats by North Korea, which has developed its nuclear arsenal specifically to try to deter a US invasion. If the US believes they can successfully invade and take those weapons, their deterrent value is greatly reduced.
The drill also underscores Defense Secretary James Mattis’ recently issued letter on Congress, which said the only way to ensure North Korea’s disarmament is with a ground invasion. Given President Trump’s long-standing threats to “totally destroy” North Korea, and his very public distaste for diplomacy, the US starting a disastrous war on the Korean Peninsula still seems to be a realistic threat.