As the US policy has failed in the Korean Peninsula, dark scenarios cast a shadow over the region – but could also pave way for peace.
Recently, US President Donald Trump, in a historically bellicose debut speech to the UN General Assembly, threatened the “total destruction” of North Korea if it does not abandon its drive toward nuclear weapons.
“Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime”, Trump said about the North Korean leader. He added: “If [the United States] is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
The menacing threats reverberated across Asia. If Trump truly threatens to resort to conventional weapons or a limited nuclear strike to annihilate more than 25 million North Koreans, he is endangering the lives of millions of South Koreans and Chinese. Pyongyang is more than 11,000 kilometres away from Washington DC but only 200 kilometres from Seoul and 800 kilometres from Beijing – not that different from Washington DC to Atlantic City or Atlanta, respectively.
President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping have jointly denounced North Korea’s recent nuclear test as “dangerous to the world”.
Recently, US UN Ambassador Nikki Haley called for “the strongest sanctions” to pressure North Korea into giving up its nuclear arsenal “before it’s too late”. Now President Trump’s rhetoric is taking the conflict with North Korea to an entirely new level – assuming that the White House will walk the talk.
And yet, in a sense, it is already too late. Decades of US policies have strengthened Pyongyang’s determination to exploit the deterrent value of its nuclear arsenals – as evidenced by its intermediate range ballistic missile on September 15; the second time that Japan has come in North Korean missile’s targeting range within a month.
That is not to say that the game is over; only that it is time to play a different game. Dealing with the “Rocket man” is not rocket science.
About the Author
Dr. Dan Steinbock is Guest Fellow of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS), see http://en.siis.org.cn/. The commentary is part of his SIIS project “China in the Era of Economic Uncertainty and Geopolitical Risk”. For his global advisory activities and other affiliations in the US and Europe, see http://www.differencegroup.net/