I've noticed that there are a lot of articles lately discussing how NK's missiles are capable of hitting US states now. These threads usually devolve into arguments about how Japan must be getting antsy or how Seoul is (or is not) at risk of artillery shelling or chemical attacks. Not to mention, how China love-hates North Korea. Before we get into any war scenarios, I want to make this point: Even if we agree that North Korea has the ability to attack America, we must ask the more important question of whether they have a REASON to attack America or her allies.
If NK was more powerful than America, maybe they'd attack us. But they're not. Not by a long shot. You know that. All that rhetoric of engulfing America in a sea of flames is FOR THEIR OWN PEOPLE - who by the way are increasingly ignoring the propaganda themselves. South Koreans and North Korean defectors are waging a cultural war in North Korea by sending in USB drives full of KPOP and KDRAMAS and KFILMS. If you want internal change, that's how you do it. You have to subvert the propaganda with proof of wealth on the outside, not meet it head on by upping our own militant rhetoric. That's playing into their own game!
If we as the public and you Media folks fail to parse out the fact that NK gov't prefers the status quo, we will only bring fear and greater uncertainty to the American public because we will continue to read headlines about NK's capabilities without factoring in their reasoning.
Import side note: calling Kim Jong Un "crazy" or "unstable" doesn't do us any good because it shifts our perspective of him. We need to interpret his actions carefully, not dismiss them arrogantly. Every move he has made, from gaining weight so that he looks more like his revered grandfather to killing his China-backed brother, Kim Jong Un's actions are carefully considered to ensure his regime's preservation.
In the face of these facts we need to ask ourselves this simple question: Would he have anything to gain by attacking America or her allies with a nuclear strike?
If you've been paying attention the answer should be a resounding no. The second NK strikes first, they lose any and all moral authority as the aggressor and they leave themselves open to merciless retaliation and a sure end to the Kim dynasty.
The opposite would be true if the US were to attack. The second America strikes first, China and Russia would point an accusatory finger at us for disrupting the status quo in a region that has seen stability and growth for decades now. South Korea, should it not give consent will feel betrayed by her most important ally for going behind her back. You folks chiming in every so often saying it's "time to do something" without understanding any of this are only making the situation WORSE. You're giving journos clicks for inflammatory headlines. You're giving writers a reason to make that headline more scary and you're feeding the bias that comes from misunderstanding.
Believe me I'm no fan of the current administration but even Trump knows this. It's why he hasn't attacked. It's why he's been trying to pressure China. You don't think he'd have done something by now if he could when he's losing face over the NK issue?
China has been happily advancing its society for the last few decades and anything to hinder this progress will be stopped with great prejudice. As such a war in Korea would throw the world's economy into chaos. You're advocating a conflict between China, the US, Korea, and Japan and you don't think that's gonna be the case? South Korea is not only a major trading partner, investor, and employer in America, it is now a regional power in Asia that should be given full consideration before any action is taken and as far as I can tell articles and comment threads don't give much attention to the South Korean perspective.
America and her Allies have aligned interests. If you go America first at the sake of an ally's wishes, you're going to lose whatever faith our other allies have in us. It's why our guarantee of retaliation is so powerful. If we didn't retaliate against a NK strike on our allies, our guarantee of security to other allies will crumble.
Sen. Lindsey Graham seems to think America wouldn't suffer in case of a war in Korea. Let me assure you if there is war American jobs will be lost (those employed by Korean companies), American lives will be lost (servicemen and civilians in Korea), and America may well lose favor among East Asian nations if the war gets out of hand and the repercussions echo throughout the region. That is to say, refugees from South Korea will flee to Japan. North Koreans will flee to China.
And you think Syria is bad?
A NK nuclear strike on America or her allies is out of the question. NK will not strike first with nuclear arms unless we corner them. You know what they say about cornering prey right? It's the dumbest thing you can do because they will go all out when there is nothing to lose. Always leave room to escape (de-escalate).
By getting suckered into the media narrative of a greater chance of war, our countries inch closer to war because of the increased fear among the public. Fear blinds us and when fear is founded on incomplete information, we make poor choices on top of being blinded.
We have missile defense systems in America and Japan. We are not without recourse there and therefore the threat is not really there. The threat is to South Korea who is a bit too close for most systems to be effective as I understand especially in an artillery barrage scenario. This is why the THAAD is so controversial. It's nice to have, but unnecessary considering the other threats it won't deter (artillery) and the political fallout it leads to (China retaliating economically against South Korea). Not to mention, South Korea already possesses America's retaliation as a deterrent to a nuclear strike as covered above.
It is true that North Korea is growing in capability and there are valid fears that even if NK never attacks, they could still sell their nuclear technology. To this I say increase monitoring and disincentivize those countries or entities who would seek to buy. I hear the Iran deal is working out alright so far.
Nuclear technology will spread throughout the world as a matter of time just as gunpowder weapons did. It will be impossible to stop the proliferation of information but what we can do is deter the USE of this information by not pushing each other into corners. What we should do instead is invest heavily in defensive technology to preemptively castrate any possible threats by proliferating wealth and trade relationships with "problem" countries. We also need to remember though that the Korean war was a proxy war between Stalinist forces and US forces in the aftermath of World War 2. Instead of dividing up Japan like we did Germany after the war, we divided up Korea who had been suffering from Japanese exploitation for 30+ years all because Korea is located in a more strategically significant location (next to China). We must therefore understand that NK's increased nuclear capabilities are also an extension of modern Russian and US relations. The two will avoid a direct confrontation but wherever they can they will try to top each other (see Ukraine, Syria, now North Korea).
If NK starts rampaging through Asia, sure let's wipe them out. But NK has yet to invade a country since ceasefire in 1953 (save for a brief stint with the NVA, which SK was on the other side of). Skirmishes have occurred, but neither side wants it to escalate any further.
To close, I want to emphasize the importance of building the relationship between the USA and SK, USA and China, and China and SK. The stronger these relationships are (read: better informed) the even less likely NK will dare to step out of line. China won't stop feeding NK behind the scenes so if the other relationships listed get complicated, we will have lost the long term war as China gets stronger by virtue of population and NK climbs out of poverty in the long run via the feeding tube.So long as America can align its desires for the status quo (as with China) by building up relationships with Countries around NK, we will continue to prevent war as we have the last 70 years. Mr. President, please feel free to ignore the NK threat as there is none in the face of America's overwhelming advantage in every respect. America, don't entertain the idea of striking preemptively and you won't give China and Russia any political ammo to shoot at us. If NK goes postal on SK then yeah let loose the hounds of war but till then rest easy as we have countermeasures in place already.
TLDR: If America wants peace it has one option. Better journalism. Stop talking about what NK is capable of and start talking about what NK wants: the status quo. Also include what WE are capable of in defensive terms. Should the bald eagle bat its eyes when the bunny bares its teeth?