A Dangerous Game of Chicken
by Yoon Young-kwan –mareeg.com – SEOUL – So far, the war between US President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un over the latter’s nuclear program has been fought only in words. But each turn of the rhetorical screw deepens the risk that, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, “jaw-jaw” could turn into “war-war.”
Last month, following North Korea’s second intercontinental ballistic missile test of the summer, the United Nations Security Council unanimously agreed to impose new and even stricter sanctions on the tiny country. The response, reported in North Korean state-run media, was a pledge that “strategic steps accompanied by physical action will be taken mercilessly with the mobilization of all [North Korea’s] national strength.”
The next day, Trump went off script, asserting that further threats from North Korea would be met with “fire and fury like the world has never seen before.” North Korea immediately did just that, threatening to carry out an “enveloping” strike on the US territory of Guam. Trump shot back that the US military is “locked and loaded.”
And, indeed, as this exchange of rhetorical fire has unfolded, the US has reportedly been preparing revised military options for striking North Korea. More ominous, according to a confidential US intelligence report, North Korea has achieved the capability to miniaturize nuclear warheads, and may have as many as 60 bombs. The stakes are rising in Kim and Trump’s game of chicken.