Monday, May 1, 2017

Are We Being Prepped For War With North Korea?

Are We Being Prepped For War With North Korea?
Military rhetoric is at an all-time high as Washington escalates tensions with Pyongyang

"The President has been briefed" on North Korea's latest failed missile test — REUTERS
By Jamie Tarabay
May 01, 2017 at 11:08 AM ET

When the drumbeats sounded for a military invasion of Iraq in 2002, the U.S. and the rest of the world were still catching their breath from bombing Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. The United States and its allies had barely made ground in Kabul in late 2001, toppling the ruling Taliban and beginning the process of mustering political support for local governance and a foray into democratic rule.

It was only months later that more U.S. troops were soon steering armored tanks across the border from Kuwait and into southern Iraq, beginning a campaign in March 2003 whose ripple effects are still felt today even after combat in Iraq — for the U.S. and its allies, at least — is officially over.

Now, 100 days into the new administration of President Donald Trump, the world is again being subjected to panic over the unpredictable behavior of a mysterious tyrant whose unquestioned rule over an impoverished people threatens his neighbors in particular and the world at large.

One could be forgiven for thinking the world was again on the cusp of a major war, this time with North Korea. The Trump administration has sent the USS Carl Vinson carrier group into waters near the Koreas, and sped up the deployment of a missile defense system to Seoul. At the end of last week the entire Senate was bussed down the road from the Capitol to the White House to be briefed about the latest dangers posed by the rogue state. Former and current officials are on the airwaves warning about everything from the possibility that North Korea might produce electro magnetic pulses that could knock out electrical grids, to suggesting we might embark on ‘defensive’ measures to “eliminate this problem in North Korea,” as retired Admiral Robert Natter said on Fox News last week.

“The threat today has escalated to the point where it’s the most serious threat that we’ve had on the Korean peninsula probably in the last 30 years,” Natter said. He suggested the administration try to resolve the crisis with the help of the Chinese government, but “if North Korea starts firing missiles at our ships, we have a responsibility to defend ourselves by taking out those systems before they’re fired.”

At least on Fox News, the bent towards pushing for war has found an audience. A Fox News poll reported that 53 percent of those polled believed that military action would be necessary to deal with the threat from North Korea, and they were ok with the U.S. doing that.

But unlike the march to war in Iraq in 2003, the North Korea saga is not being advocated with the same breathless intensity that much of the White House press corps exhibited nearly fifteen years ago. In large part, today’s mainstream media has been Trump’s greatest critic and for many observers, the bluster over Pyongyang is almost considered an attempt to deflect from the myriad issues the new president is unable to escape because of constant coverage.

“The combination of the volatility of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, and the unpredictability of Trump is leading to a game of brinkmanship with far-reaching consequences,” wrote Mark Seddon, a former speechwriter for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon. “Unsurprisingly perhaps, some see Trump’s new muscular foreign policy as a distraction from his troubled domestic agenda. Others believe that North Korea and the United States were always going to reach this stage as long as Pyongyang was forging ahead with its weapons program.”

To North Korea experts, very little has actually changed. Even though everyone from Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are lockstep behind their commander-in-chief in their tough talk, the reality is far more subdued.
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