Like many of my readers, I've been following developments in North Korea with great interest and growing concern. I think Kim Jong-Un is not so much deranged, as living in an alternate reality. He's surrounded by a party political apparatus that, through a bizarre cult of personality, seeks to semi-deify him in the eyes of the North Korean people, just as it did his father and grandfather. That means the only feedback he receives on a regular basis is fawning approval and approbation. He hears few, if any, voices that dare to "speak truth to power" - and those few that have tried, have died. He has little or no idea of US determination to prevent him putting his outrageous nuclear threats into action.
Perhaps the best summation of the current situation is provided by Larry Lambert.
The fat little dictator, Kim Jong Un, playing his 'mouse that roared' scenario is over-playing his hand, but there's nobody close to him who can explain it in a way that he will understand.
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North Korean leaders have prepared for only one kind of warfare and have no experience fighting it. There is a grave danger that North Korea will misperceive or misinterpret US and Allied intentions.
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Chinese leaders have fundamental differences with the US about the nature of the crisis, who must take the lead in a confrontation with North Korea and about the aims of sanctions. In short, the Chinese leaders do not trust the US leaders to behave in a way consistent with Chinese best interests.
The Trump Administration is not the Obama Administration and SECDEF Mattis is not some jumped-up political appointee. I still anticipate a kinetic war that will likely go nuclear on the Korean Peninsula within the next 5-6 months. The Norks are increasing hysterical and emotional and as stated above, their naive world view would likely cause them to react to something that is not intended as 'preemptive action'. When missiles are flying back and forth, China, on the border with North Korea has far more to lose than they do by sanctioning North Korea and starving them into backing down -- but they're still very slow to do that.
My own personal judgment is that the Norks themselves are past the point of no-return.
There's more at the link. Recommended reading.
I agree with Mr. Lambert. North Korea absolutely refuses to back down; but the United States absolutely cannot accept that so unstable and xenophobic a regime should be allowed to possess nuclear weapons that can strike US territory. The irresistible force has run headlong into the immovable object, and the pressure between them is increasing by the day. Since I see no peaceful way to relieve that pressure, I believe that military hostilities are inevitable in the short to medium term.
The trouble is, those hostilities are likely to be devastating to at least the Korean Peninsula. If nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles are used, the devastation may well spread to other countries, too. North Korea is insanely over-armed for its size, even though many of its weapons systems are outdated or obsolete. Its military forces would likely destroy much of South Korea in any conflict, deliberately aiming to maximize civilian casualties. It's the nature of the North Korean beast. Equally, I believe that rather than commit hundreds of thousands of troops to a conventional war, the US will almost certainly use nuclear weapons. North Korea has amassed a vast arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, and now has nuclear warheads as well - and it's publicly stated its willingness to use them. The US has no logical, rational choice but to accept those statements as real, and - in the absence of any other alternative - forestall them by a preemptive counter-strike.
Folks, if any of you are in South Korea, or have family or friends there, you need to get the hell out of there. RIGHT NOW. In my judgment, this has gone beyond the point where peaceful resolution is still possible. If you stay there, you're putting yourself (and perhaps your loved ones, too) in the line of fire. That's not a good place to be.
For those so inclined, I suggest urgent prayers for peace. It's about all that is left to us.