Leaders throughout the centuries have realized it can be advantageous to have your enemies think you’re crazy. Machiavelli once wrote that it can be wise to pretend to be mad, while President Richard Nixon wanted the North Vietnamese to think he was unstable and prone to launch a nuclear attack on a whim.
North Korea Warns
of 'Thermonuclear War' After Trump Threatens Strike
'Yet again, the Trump administration appears to be threatening a preemptive war against North Korea. When the inevitable retaliation comes, what form does it take?'
by Nika Knight, Common Dreams
The Trump administration has succeeded in ratcheting up tensions in the Korea Peninsula after dispatching a Navy strike group to the western Pacific Ocean and threatening a "pre-emptive strike" against North Korea if the country goes ahead with a nuclear bomb test.
"Given that some of North Korea's nuclear warheads are likely to survive any U.S. strike, the worst case scenario is frankly terrifying."
In response to the Trump administration's saber-rattling, North Korea on Friday warned of a looming "thermonuclear war," threatening a pre-emptive strike of its own if the U.S. engages in "reckless" aggression.
In an exclusive interview with the Associated Press, Vice Minister Han Song Ryol said that "Pyongyang has determined the Trump administration is 'more vicious and more aggressive' than that of his predecessor, Barack Obama," AP writes. "He added that North Korea will keep building up its nuclear arsenal in 'quality and quantity' and said Pyongyang is ready to go to war if that's what Trump wants."
And in a statement attributed to the North Korean Foreign Ministry's Institute for Disarmament and Peace, officials also warned:
The U.S. introduces into the Korean peninsula, the world's biggest hotspot, huge nuclear strategic assets, seriously threatening peace and security of the peninsula and pushing the situation there to the brink of a war.
This has created a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out any moment.
"We've got a powerful nuclear deterrent already in our hands, and we certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a U.S. pre-emptive strike," Han told AP. "Whatever comes from the U.S., we will cope with it. We are fully prepared to handle it."
China, too, warned of imminent war on Friday, telling all sides to pull back or go down "an irreversible path."
Foreign policy experts, peace activists, and politicians are calling on the White House to recognize the grave danger posed by Trump's aggressive approach to North Korea.
As Peace Action said in a press statement late Thursday: "Yet again, the Trump administration appears to be threatening a preemptive war against North Korea. The mere threat of such an attack has already ratcheted up tensions in the Korean Peninsula. Following through on the threat could lead to all out war and give the invasion of Iraq a run for its money as one of the most catastrophic foreign policy decisions in U.S. history."
North Korea 'Ready for War' After US Sends Navy Team to Peninsula
'We will hold the U.S. wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions,' a foreign ministry spokesperson reportedly said
by Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams
North Korea said it was "ready for war" and warned of "catastrophic consequences" on Tuesday, just days after the U.S. sent a Navy strike group to the western Pacific Ocean off the Korean peninsula.
"We will hold the U.S. wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions," a foreign ministry spokesman said, according to the hermit kingdom's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). "[North Korea] is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S."
The Guardian reports:
The spokesman cited Washington's refusal to rule out a preemptive strike against North Korean missile sites as justification for its nuclear program.
"The prevailing grave situation proves once again that [North Korea] was entirely just when it increased in every way its military capabilities for self-defense and preemptive attack with a nuclear force as a pivot," the spokesman said, according to KCNA.
"We will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms."
Reuters also reported the country's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper as saying, "Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the U.S. invasionary bases not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theater but also in the U.S. mainland."
The developments come just days after President Donald Trump approved an airstrike in Syria, which many also saw as a show of strength to North Korea, which fired a ballistics missile test just days before a U.S.-China summit last week.
Trump on Tuesday reiterated that the U.S. was prepared to act alone if China did not pressure its neighbor into dropping its nuclear weapons program.
White House officials have previously said that "all options," including a preemptive strike, are on the table when it comes to dealing with North Korea.
"Given that some of North Korea's nuclear warheads are likely to survive any U.S. strike, the worst case scenario is frankly terrifying," Peace Action said. "If President Trump were to authorize such a reckless strike, he'd be putting millions of South Koreans and the roughly 28,500 U.S. troops stationed there in immediate danger.”
And while playing this dangerous game of brinkmanship with North Korea, Trump is enjoying his seventh trip to his golf resort in Palm Beach, Florida since becoming president—and this weekend, he's without any senior staff.
Trump's apparent disregard for the looming threat of nuclear war wasn't lost on observers:
Will Kim Jong-un be crazy enough to lash out at the US convoy nearing his coast?
Could Trump turn a blind eye to a provocative act by North Korea? Each man knows his domestic position could implode if, after so much bluster, he shows weakness. Trump could live with that – but not Kim Jong-un.
Yes, avoiding all out war with America would save North Koreans from descending into an even lower circle of hell, but it could leave Kim Jong-un fatally weakened. His repressed subjects will sense the regime’s retreat and might be emboldened to challenge it. The dynasty has developed weapons of mass destruction to protect itself as much from internal threats as a foreign invader. If his grip on power at home falters, he might well take his country – and the rest – down with him."