An interesting piece here from a former US Army General, I would encourage you to read it in full.
This bit stood out for me:
Yes, it is always possible that Kim may doubt that the United States would act, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Or, perhaps he miscalculates how far he can push the South Koreans. It is possible that a North provocation could be so extreme that the South would be compelled by its own domestic politics to respond militarily — say a tit-for-tat ship-sinking. Or maybe such an incident occurs by accident, if overzealous commanders make a wrong move.
And then Kim, fearing that his own associates would mistake forbearance for weakness, would escalate in turn, thus initiating a cycle of intensifying moves that could spread conflict and turn into a war that neither side could back away from.
The risk is higher now than before because Kim’s bellicose rhetoric may mask real weaknesses in his authority or in his understanding.
The rising rhetoric raises tensions (as it is probably designed to do). These tensions increase the risks of fear or pride, which could lead to an inadvertent incident. Should an incident occur, there will be pressure on leaders of both sides to retaliate and even escalate hostility. The consequences of conflict are higher than before, given the North’s nuclear and missile capabilities.
Kim has no doubt changed a long long history of word play, now is the test of is he all talk, or will he pull the trigger too.
Either way people are going to be worse off, if he goes to war thousands may die in South Korea and other surrounding countries, if he does not millions will continue to live in poverty in North Korea.
I read somewhere recently that the best outcome we could hope for is for Kim to declare some sort of ‘victory’ and declare the whole charade over as he has ‘won’. Lets hope so…..
- North Korea Needs to Stop ‘Bellicose’ Rhetoric: Pfeiffer (bloomberg.com)
- 10 Reasons Behind North Korea’s Aggressive Behavior (listofx.wordpress.com)
- US delays missile test over N Korea tensions (aljazeera.com)