Will brinksmanship lead to a renewed Korean war?


North Korea has yet another anniversary on Tuesday, the founding of its military, and the world appears to be on edge today in anticipation that North Korea will test a nuclear weapon on Tuesday and Donald Trump, who opted for a brinksmanship foreign policy, will be forced to respond with a military strike as he said he would in order to to save face and to demonstrate ‘resolve” — renewing the Korean war, with massive civilian casualties as a predictable consequence.

There are some troubling headlines today. President Trump to host unusual meeting with UN Security Council:

President Trump will host members of the United Nations Security Council at the White House Monday, a highly unusual meeting made even more startling because of his harsh criticism of the international institution during the campaign and since taking office.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is serving this month as the President of the Security Council, a role that rotates each month among the five permanent members: the U.S., Great Britain, France, China and Russia.

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Haley will be attending before the group returns to New York for scheduled Security Council meetings on Tuesday.

Diplomatic sources told NBC News the ambassadors are expecting to have coffee at Blair House — also known as the The President’s Guest House — with members of Congress Monday morning and then go to the White House to meet with the President and have lunch.

North Korea will inevitably be a major point of discussion.

China abstained on a UN resolution last week condemning the latest missile test — instead of vetoing it — a symbolic gesture. But Beijing has so far resisted tougher action.

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Many experts, including former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, have discounted the viability of preemptive military strikes given the proximity of millions of people in Seoul and 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea, all within artillery range of North Korea if it were to retaliate.

This all comes as an American citizen, a Korean-American accounting instructor, was detained Sunday at the airport in Pyongyang while trying to leave the country after having been there for a month.

The State Department has reached out to Sweden’s embassy, the protectorate for the U.S. in North Korea, to try to obtain his release.

Politico, as well as many other news outlets report, Haley: Another missile test by North Korea could prompt U.S. military action:

Another ballistic missile test from North Korea could prompt a military reaction from the United States, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Monday morning.

Speaking from Washington where she and other members of the UN Security Council will meet with President Donald Trump later Monday, Haley told NBC’s “Today” show that “we are not going to do anything unless he gives us reason to do something.” But should North Korea continue its recent pattern of saber-rattling, Haley said the U.S. is prepared to respond with military force.

“If you see him attack a military base, if you see some sort of intercontinental ballistic missile, then obviously we’re going to do that,” Haley said in response to a question about what activity from North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un might prompt a response from the U.S. military. “But right now, we’re saying don’t test, don’t use nuclear missiles, don’t try and do any more actions and I think he’s understanding that and China’s helping us really put that pressure on him.”

“Let me just make sure I understand what you just said,” NBC anchor Matt Lauer followed up. “If he tests another intercontinental ballistic missile, if he were to test another nuclear device, when you say ‘obviously we’re going to do that,’ do you mean military retaliation?”

“I think then the president steps in and decides what’s going to happen,” Haley replied.

The Washington Post reports, Trump gets on the phone to Asia as another North Korea flash point looms:

President Trump was working the phones Monday morning Asia time, speaking to his counterparts in China and Japan ahead of another key anniversary and potential flash point in North Korea.

Just days after marking the birthday of founder Kim Il Sung with a massive military parade and missile test, there are concerns North Korea could stage a provocative missile or nuclear test Tuesday to mark the anniversary of its military’s founding.

Trump discussed the situation with China’s President Xi Jinping, who urged Washington and Pyongyang to meet each other halfway, and with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who demanded North Korea stop repeating “dangerously provocative actions.”

The return of a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group to the region could also reignite tensions, especially if it is accompanied by another round of punchy rhetoric from either Pyongyang or Washington.

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On Monday, the Global Times newspaper said that if North Korea stages a sixth nuclear test, Beijing would “undoubtedly support” the United Nations in adopting tougher sanctions against the regime, including an embargo on oil exports.

China says it has already suspended all coal imports from North Korea, and although several North Korean ships, thought to be laden with coal, have been seen at Chinese ports recently, they are no indications they have been allowed to unload their cargoes.

The prospect of stiffer sanctions has already had an impact on daily life in Pyongyang: the NK News Website reported Saturday that gas prices in Pyongyang nearly doubled in the recent days, with residents lining up at gas stations, while some were closed and others were only selling gasoline to foreign organizations and diplomats.

The regime’s Korean Central News Agency criticized China — without naming it — for “dancing to the tune” of the United States on Friday. The Global Times, whose views do not necessarily reflect official policy, responded in an editorial that such a broadside “will not have any effect apart from further isolating Pyongyang itself.”

The New York Times reports, China’s Leader Urges Restraint on North Korea in Call With Trump:

China’s president, Xi Jinping, has urged President Trump to show restraint toward North Korea despite signs that the North may be preparing a nuclear test. Mr. Xi made the appeal in a phone call with Mr. Trump on Monday that reflected growing alarm over North Korea’s plans, which could tip the region into crisis.

The phone conversation, on Monday morning in Beijing, came after Mr. Trump had already used a meeting with Mr. Xi in Florida, a follow-up phone call, interviews and Twitter messages to press Mr. Xi to do more to deter North Korea from holding additional nuclear and missile tests. The United States and its allies have been on alert for another atomic test by the North.

In the latest call, the third between the two leaders, Mr. Xi indicated to Mr. Trump that China opposed any such test by North Korea, but he also nudged Mr. Trump to avoid a tit-for-tat response to the North’s fiery threats, according to a report on Chinese television.

“China adamantly opposes any actions in contravention of the United Nations Security Council resolutions,” Mr. Xi said, according to the report, evidently referring to a series of decisions by the council to punish North Korea for its nuclear and missile programs.

“At the same time, it is hoped that all sides exercise restraint and avoid doing things that exacerbate tensions on the peninsula,” Mr. Xi said, referring to the Korean Peninsula. “Only if all sides live up to their responsibilities and come together from different directions can the nuclear issue on the peninsula be resolved as quickly as possible.”

The comments reflected growing Chinese fears that the tensions between North Korea and the United States and its Asian allies could spiral into outright military conflict. That widening rift is presenting China with confounding choices between its longstanding ties to North Korea and its hopes for steady relations with the United States.

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[O]n Monday, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry stuck to pleas for calm from all sides when asked repeatedly about North Korea, its threats to China and the possibility of another nuclear test.

“The situation on the peninsula is complicated and sensitive,” the spokesman, Geng Shuang, said when asked about a possible North Korean nuclear test. “We strongly urge all sides to stay calm and restrained, and don’t take any actions that could escalate tensions.”

On Sunday, Japanese defense forces began a joint drill with a visiting United States Navy strike group featuring an aircraft carrier, the Carl Vinson, which had arrived in northeast Asia in a display of American resolve.

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[T]he carrier and accompanying ships have since moved into the region, prompting warnings of a retaliatory strike from North Korea.

In the last two days, the North Korean state news media, including the main Workers’ Party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, has warned that the North was ready to turn the Carl Vinson into a “great heap of scrap metal” and “bury it in the sea.”

The South Korean Defense Ministry said on Monday that it was also considering holding joint drills with the Carl Vinson and accompanying ships, Reuters reported.

In addition to his discussion with Mr. Xi, Mr. Trump also spoke with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on Monday morning in Tokyo, Mr. Abe told reporters.

Mr. Abe told the president that he strongly endorsed Mr. Trump’s position that all options were “on the table.”

“North Korea’s nuclear and missile program is an extremely serious threat to security not only in the international community but also for our country,” Mr. Abe said. “We will continue to closely cooperate and maintain the high level of warning and surveillance. We will respond resolutely.”

UPDATE: Reuters reports, Entire U.S. Senate to go to White House for North Korea briefing:

Top Trump administration officials will hold a rare briefing on Wednesday at the White House for the entire U.S. Senate on the situation in North Korea, senior Senate aides said on Monday.

All 100 senators have been asked to the White House for the briefing by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the aides said.

While top administration officials routinely travel to Capitol Hill to address members of Congress on foreign policy and national security matters, it is unusual for the entire 100-member Senate to go to such an event at the White House, and for those four top officials to be involved.

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The briefing will take place at 3 p.m. EDT.

House aides said they were working with the White House to set a similar briefing for members of the House of Representatives.

Keep in mind that North Korea does not need an ICBM to deliver a nuclear weapon to its neighbor in South Korea. North Korea has very effective short and medium range missiles that are believed to accommodate a nuclear warhead. North Korea also has a massive amount of hardened artillery batteries aimed at Seoul that could devastate the city of more than 20 million within hours. There are also 28,500 U.S. troops serving in South Korea.

North Korea is fully aware that a renewed military conflict will result in a full and devastating allied response. Should North Korea not step back from the brink and decide to risk national suicide in this game of brinksmanship, nothing will stop this madness.


  1. It doesn’t matter who has what bombs where.

    It doesn’t matter if a war, assuming the cowards in Congress actually approve a “war” and don’t just pass the buck in some BS AUMF, is “winnable”.

    It doesn’t matter that an ignorant, cowardly draft dodger is POTUS is tweeting threats to NK for no GD reason. It doesn’t matter if Dennis Rodman’s boyfriend “Fatty Fatty Boom Boom” says he’ll destroy the US with his mighty imaginary missiles.

    All that matters is that there is no freakin’ reason for a war other than to draw eyeballs to media for ratings and cash and make Trump feel manly.

    We’ve been at “war” for so long people are forgetting to ask why.

  2. “North Korea also has a massive amount of hardened artillery batteries aimed at Seoul that could devastate the city of more than 20 million within hours.”

    What are “hardened artillery batteries”? My guess would be the artillery batteries are firing from hardened positions. If so, I can guarantee you that each one has been identified and targeted for massive firepowere from the South, to include bunker buster bombs from B-52s, B-1s and B2s stationed in the Phillipines and the United States. The point I am trying to make is that North Korea is not operating in an environment where they are the only players. They would cause a great deal of destruction in the South, to be sure, but they would be driven back to the stone age by the response. The scene is not Korea in 1950 and the ability of the North is severely stunted in their ability to cause damage and destruction despite their possessing nukes.

    I hope this game of brinkmanship ends peacefully because no one will win a war in the practical sense. In the real sense, however, North Korea will pay the greater price by essentially ceasing to exist.

    • If Kim Jong Un has the mentality of a suicide bomber, should the losses North Korea ultimately may incur even enter the calculus? Your comment suggests they should, but I’m not so sure.

      • “If Kim Jong Un has the mentality of a suicide bomber, should the losses North Korea ultimately may incur even enter the calculus?”

        If Un has the mentality of a suicide bomber, then no line of reasoning or amount of analysis will predict what he will do. Nor will it matter whether he is handled with kid gloves by Obama or provoked by Trump; he will do whatever he is going to do.

        Then, whatever he does, we are reacting to his actions and we need to be ready to do so. That will require more than the 28,000 service members currently stationed there. That is why the additional reactionary forces in Guam, the Philipines, the U.S., and other locations are so necessary, and why the force projection provided by the carrier fleets and the submarines provide the President such flexibility anywhere in the world.

        I agree with you, Bob, that my suggestions and comments always assume we are dealing with rational people. If we aren’t, then no planning is possible.

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