As I scan the news regarding the most recent escalation of hostilities with North Korea a couple of questions are gnawing at me.
Has the threat from North Korea Fundamentally Changed?
If you follow the news or the government mouthpieces North Korea is a threat and a bully and needs to be reigned in. Through military force, if need be. We have send a carrier task force to the area, B-1 Bombers are making flybys, reconnaissance drones are being deployed, missile defense systems are being deployed or upgraded, the Vice President even stopped off at the DMZ to stare down the enemy. But, has the threat from North Korea really changed in any meaningful way?
They have a proven medium range missile system and are developing cruise missiles and longer range missile systems that they continue to test fire towards Japan. Although, according to reports, they continue to fail these tests. They have placed at least one (non-working we are told) satellite in orbit.
They are still pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
Both of these efforts run in collusion with another enemy, Iran. Iran seems to be able to successfully test fire many of the same technologies that “fail” in North Korean hands.
North Korea has the third largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world, mostly Sarin and VX.
They have one of the largest armies on the planet with somewhere between 1.1 and 1.4 million troops.
They have one of the largest submarine fleets in the world. This fleet is used regularly to infiltrate agents into South Korea and one of their “obsolete” subs sank a thoroughly modern South Korean Corvette a few years back.
North Korea has been openly belligerent and has repeatedly threatened to destroy the US and our allies.
None of this have changed significantly in the recent past.
If The Threat Hasn’t Changed Why All The Hoopla?
If the fundamental threat hasn’t changed all that much why all the renewed focus on the area and why all the saber rattling?
It is possible that there is new information on a change from normal bluster and posturing to a willingness to act.
It is possible that their missile and nuclear programs have become more successful that we are being led to believe.
It is possible that the new US Commander in Chief is using this as an opportunity to show that the US is no longer in the “apologize and back away with our tail tucked mode.”
It could be something else entirely.
Should We Worry?
Anytime politicians are playing poker with the lives of the American military (not to mention all the civilians who would be put in harms way) it is time to worry. One misstep, one visit from old man Murphy and the whole house could go up in flames. In three years of fighting the Korean war cost almost three million lives. How many more would die with today’s far more lethal weapons systems?
Yes, we should definitely be concerned.