While tensions between the US and North Korea have been active since the 1950s, the last few weeks seem to be showing a shift in US dealings with the rogue state. Although the media has stoked fears of a reinvigorated Korean War, are we really any closer to open conflict than we were in past decades?
The latest round of media hype has focused on Kim Jong-un’s provocative actions and the resulting tough talk from President Trump’s administration. While some in the mainstream media are framing the events as a potential prelude to armed conflict, these actions seem similar to saber-rattling that we’ve come to expect from North Korea. After all, the nation is technically still at war with the United States, since there was no formal peace treaty, and the country’s successive dictators have never let the world forget.
Aside from Kim’s perennial abortive missile tests, North Korea has recently produced a propaganda film, depicting a nuclear bomb destroying San Francisco, as part of the “Day of the Sun” celebration honoring the 105th birthday of the country’s founder, Kim Il-sung. This, too, is not very different from what we’ve seen from North Korean state media for years.
How should we react to the North Korea threat?
Despite consternation and unchecked speculation, the fact remains that Kim’s military is vastly outmatched with respect to modern weaponry. As experts have pointed out, the regime has considerable artillery that could be used to strike targets in South Korea, especially Seoul, which sits alarmingly close to the Demilitarized Zone. However, the regime lacks the intercontinental ballistic missile technology required to successfully deliver a nuclear weapon from North Korea to the mainland United States.
Is it possible, given the media’s often openly disdainful attitude to the Trump administration, that their rush to play up the potential conflict is designed to make Americans feel uneasy about the President? After all, the North’s jingoistic rhetoric has not changed since President Trump took office, nor has the state of their vastly inferior weapons technology. Perhaps the only significant development is that the White House is now occupied by a President who truly understands the meaning of the phrase “peace through strength.”