President Trump has recently started a minor display of force against North Korea, with most outlets reporting on the deployment of a carrier group to the Korean peninsula. President Trump’s response is in reaction to recent reports of the North Koreans developing ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles), a development that will permanently change the course of US-North Korean relations.
The North Koreans have been a thorn in the world’s side for decades now, and for a while they’ve seemed like a political afterthought in world affairs. The “Hermit Kingdom” has long been known for its secrecy and fear of allowing too much influence to come in from the outside world, so much so that their shared border with South Korea is the most fortified on the planet. North Korea also maintains the vast majority of its contact with the outside world through China. China more or less is the sole reason behind North Korea’s continued sovereignty, following their backing of the North Korean forces in the Korean War. China is by far North Korea’s largest trading partner, and most of the war materiel received by the nation is purchased from China.
Despite this close relationship, however, North Korea has increasingly become a liability for the Chinese government. The despotic and often eccentric actions of Kim Jong-Il and later his son Kim Jong-Un have put pressure on the Chinese government to lessen support of the state, infamous for its near-nonexistent journalistic and human rights.
As a result of this lessening of support and also a military based entirely upon early Cold War technology, the North Koreans have placed great amounts of resources into a program to develop a nuclear arsenal. This has been a concern of the US for decades now, and it’s been suspected that the US has been covertly sabotaging these efforts for just as long. The North Koreans first tested a nuclear weapon in 2006, but the development of a warhead that can reach the United States has started concerns in the US that have led President Trump to take harsh action.
Some criticize President Trump’s actions as overly eager, with others criticizing his apparent bravado as militaristic. Others have said that the President’s actions are the best course for dealing with a potential North Korean threat.
There is no quick and safe solution to the North Korean threat. While the US could very easily trounce the Korean People’s Army in a war, the capital of South Korea, Seoul, sits only 35 miles from the border. The lives of millions of South Koreans could be at risk. In addition, the threat of the Chinese joining such a war is far too great for the US to seriously consider taking military action currently.
President Trump has also met with Vladimir Putin to discuss the possibility of Russia working with the US on the North Korea issue. The two agreed to work together on the issue, with the two scheduling a face-to-face meeting prior to the G20 summit in Hamburg this July.