“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Albert Einstein
Since 2006, North Korea has had nuclear weaponry. One of their more recent tests displayed a bomb seven times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, which triggered an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1…in Japan. In 2017, an intercontinental missile test revealed that they had the capability to hit the United States if they desired. Immediately, worries of a nuclear World War III spread across the nation and the globe as tensions between the two countries continued to rise. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently stated that the North Korea threat “is growing.” So how serious is this threat? Are we staring in the face of World War III?
Recent writers say that perhaps North Korea’s nuclear efforts don’t have the feared motives behind them, but rather they have created a nuclear stockpile simply to use as leverage for diplomacy. The best case scenario would be that, after seeing the United States’ treatment of Cuba, Kim Jong Un is simply creating enough force to deter a similar invasion. To protect his similar dictatorship from a Bay of Pigs-esque invasion, Kim Jong Un created and threatened the use of nuclear weapons. Another slightly comforting thought is that the weapons will just be used to strong-arm South Korea into annexation. “Other than as a smoking crater, Kim Jong Un simply doesn’t have the resources to take over South Korea,” remarked one writer, “the nukes are just for leverage.” Top CIA officials have stated that Kim Jong Un is not the “madman” that the United States often portrays, but rather a “rational actor” motivated by “clear, long-term goals.” “Waking up one morning and deciding to nuke LA is not something he’s likely to do,” said Yong Suk Lee, deputy assistant director of the CIA’s Korea Mission Center, “he knows he would be utterly eliminated…he wants to rule for a long time and die peacefully in his bed.” It seems as if worries of an unprompted nuclear strike on the United States are unlikely to come true; of course, all of this relies on the rationality of our leaders…
Donald Trump’s reaction to the “North Korea crisis” and nuclear warfare in general is perhaps the greatest threat facing our world today. The simple act of getting in petty twitter wars with another nuclear power world leader is arguably the most irresponsible act of his entire administration (which is a pretty high bar). Those CIA officials that suggest Kim Jong Un is a rational leader are “continuously undermined” by the president’s words and actions. The Moon administration in South Korea see Kim Jong Un’s actions as “largely defensive and rational,” but the reasonable voices of the world are drowned out by Trump’s petulant outcries. The most concerning of his antics is the increase of nuclear weapons. In July 2017, Trump said he wanted to return the United States active nuclear stockpile to 1960 levels.
“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” Trump tweeted. Coming to your senses is decreasing the amount of nuclear weapons in the world, not increasing it. Every presidential Administration since Lyndon Johnson in the 60s has decreased the nuclear stockpile. Trump is single handedly starting a second Cold War. What kept the Cold War from sparking into a full on nuclear war was the principle of MAD (mutually assured destruction). We would never start a nuclear war with Russia because we knew they could annihilate our civilization, and vice versa. What is concerning about the North Korea crisis (though seemingly counterintuitive) is that we could survive their attacks, making it possible for the Trump administration to decide to go head to head. On a morning news show Trump seemed to invite this line of logic: “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” Yes, congratulations, your button is bigger and you would win, but with millions and millions of lives lost. Some have even suggested executing a preemptive “bloody nose strike” on North Korea, assuming that eventual war is inevitable. Pence stated recently that “the era of strategic patience is over.” Though the experts say that peace is still entirely possible and most Americans believe that “North Korea is bluffing,” our leaders seem to be unnecessarily escalating an incredibly dangerous situation.
Nuclear war should simply not be an option and should be avoided at all costs. The power of modern nuclear bombs is incomprehensibly devastating. Even in 1961, the Tsar bomb detonated with a forces of 3,800 Hiroshima explosions. The thousands of 21st century nuclear bombs could no doubt wipe civilizations off of the face of the Earth. Trading nuclear blows with North Korea just to quiet them would be sacrificing millions of lives over a matter of pride. If the situation is handled by our leaders properly, there should be little worry. Unfortunately that’s a big if.
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