President Donald Trump’s war of words with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has raised concerns in the USA and abroad. North Korea’s threats of “annihilating America” are nothing new, of course. What is new is President Trump’s robust response to Mr. Kim’s threat to “retaliate thousands of times” against the USA for its role in imposing new U.N. sanctions on North Korea. On Aug. 8, Trump said our nation would unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” against Mr. Kim’s regime, if it endangers the U.S.
Just hours after Trump’s “fire and fury” comments, North Korean military officials considered launching ballistic missile strikes on the Pacific island of Guam. That threat was met with a rapid retort from U.S. Pacific Air Forces “showing a picture of two B-1 bombers flanked by two F-15 fighter jets,” with the message “ready to fight tonight.”
President Trump’s detractors, including a few Republicans, have criticized him for answering Mr. Kim’s bluster with some of his own. So far, though, his strong stance seems to working to deter Mr. Kim.
President Trump’s position on the high stakes standoff with North Korea has been buttressed by the recent U.N. Security Council’s unanimous decision to impose new economic sanctions on North Korea. In a rare display of cooperation, both China and Russia voted with the USA on invoking the sanctions. China’s vote was critical. Some 90 percent of North Korea’s foreign trade is with China, and China is already starting to tighten the screws on that trade.
By the way, lest we be deceived by China’s cooperation in this matter, helping defuse this confrontation short of war is is clearly in China’s national interest, too. The last thing China needs is another Korean War on its doorstep. Aside from the death and destruction that goes with war, hundreds of thousands of North Koreans would likely flee to China for refuge.
Ironically, Kim Jong Un, without nuclear weapons at his disposal, would be just another tinhorn tyrant, controlling a tiny country of 25 million people, and no threat to the USA.
However, Mr. Kim, with nuclear weapons, becomes a dangerous man and a force to be reckoned with -- by the USA and all peace-loving nations. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to contain him and his regime, including the new sanctions imposed on North Korea for defying the international ban on testing missiles and nuclear bombs. We contained the old Soviet Union for over four decades. Surely, we can contain Mr. Kim for the foreseeable future.
Resorting to war is -- and ought to be -- the very last resort to any conflict resolution. It’s been said before, “In a nuclear war, the living will envy the dead.” Our old Soviet foe, Nikita Khrushchev, said that. Words to that effect have been echoed by President Dwight Eisenhower and others. President Trump and his nuclear nemesis Mr. Kim would be wise to read and heed those words now.
Retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn can be reached at email@example.com.