Davis: Are the U.S. and North Korea on the brink?

I have had a bad feeling in my gut the past few weeks since learning that North Korea and the Untied States could be heading for a showdown.

The entire safety of the world is at stake and our fate is in the hands of two world leaders who are emotionally unstable. They both have grandiose opinions of themselves that compel them to consider their own personal needs for self-aggrandizement above the needs of anyone else in the world.

Trump and Kim Jong Un both have a hair-trigger readiness when it comes to considering bombing the hell out of each other or their surrogates. Consider this report from an April 9 BBC dispatch: "The US military has ordered a navy strike group to move towards the Korean peninsula, amid growing concerns about North Korea's missile programme. The Carl Vinson Strike Group comprises an aircraft carrier and other warships. US Pacific Command described the deployment — now heading towards the western Pacific — as a prudent measure to maintain readiness in the region." Even though we have now learned that, for some reason, the group was actually steaming in the other direction, President Trump has said the U.S. is prepared to act alone to deal with the nuclear threat from North Korea. "The number one threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible and destabilising programme of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability," U.S. Pacific Command spokesman Dave Benham said.

Then there is this statement reported by CNN on April 13: "North Korean officials told CNN in Pyongyang this week that the decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to bomb a Syrian airfield, as well as his dispatching a U.S. navy carrier strike group to northern Asia, showed the importance of the nuclear program. 'The aggressive acts of war on the part of the United States are getting increasingly reckless,' the official said."

The forces are lining up and it is almost inevitable that there will be a showdown. The question is, "At what cost?" Trump's ego is so big that he will never let another world leader outdo him. If Un shoots a few missiles at the now re-directed U.S. fleet, Trump will respond. Will he try to bomb North Korea to oblivion with a nuclear weapon or just use weapons that cause mass casualties? Such action will most certainly lead to war.

No one knows for sure if North Korea has miniaturized nuclear warheads. It is necessary to do so in order to launch a nuclear warhead. U.S. officials have speculated that North Korea has not yet developed such technology, but we do not want to find out their capabilities if we go to war with them.

I believe that if Un has nuclear weapons he will use them. The question is where he will send them. Will he send weapons to South Korea into areas where he knows there are U.S. troops or will he try to find a way to launch missiles to land on American soil?

According to a January 2017 BBC report, there is no consensus on North Korea's military potential. "There is no consensus on exactly where North Korea is in terms of miniaturising a nuclear device so that it can be delivered via a missile. In March 2016 Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said the US had not seen North Korea demonstrate an ability to miniaturise a warhead. Two days later Adm. Bill Gortney, the officer responsible for defending US air space, told a Senate panel it was 'prudent' to assume that Pyongyang could strike the US, despite the intelligence community giving it "a very low probability of success."

The report goes on to note that, "Prof. Siegfried Hecker of Stanford University, a highly authoritative voice on North Korea's weapons' development, says 'we must assume that the DPRK has designed and demonstrated nuclear warheads that can be mounted on some of its short-range and perhaps medium-range missiles.'"

The fact that the two leaders in charge of the fate of the entire planet have pathological personalities and an attitude that does not allow them to accept defeat at any cost should scare the hell out of all of us.

Richard Davis is a registered nurse. He writes from Guilford and welcomes comments at rbdav@comcast.net. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.


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