Can US win the game of chicken with North Korea?

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/9 23:28:39

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday gave a harsh warning to North Korea that if it makes more threats to the US, "they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen." A few hours later, Pyongyang responded by saying that it is examining its operational plans for attacking Guam. US B-1B bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula from Anderson Air Force Base on Guam.

This is the latest escalation of the war of words between Washington and Pyongyang. The US can't usually gain the upper hand in this war of words, as Pyongyang chooses whatever wording it likes, and what Washington says may not be heard by North Korean society. But US opinion has paid great attention to everything North Korea says.

There is a huge gap between Washington and Pyongyang in terms of strength. As the weak side, it seems logical for Pyongyang to utter harsh words to make up for its lack of strength. But even if North Korea masters the mature technology of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), it would be surprising if Pyongyang actively launched a strike against the US. The verbal menace from North Korea seems meant to enhance its own deterrence.

Since this year, the US has adopted a more hard-line stance toward North Korea by saying it is "keeping all options on the table" and "not excluding military options." Strategic bombers and nuclear submarines have made frequent trips to the Korean Peninsula. Meanwhile, North Korea has increased the number of missile launches and seems to have made breakthroughs in ICBM technologies.

This makes the threats from Pyongyang not only verbal.

Since 2006 when North Korea conducted the first nuclear test, the US and North Korea have been engaged in a longstanding battle of wills. As North Korea's nuclear and missile technologies develop, it is more difficult for the US to win the battle over North Korea. Washington has underestimated Pyongyang's disregard for all the prices it has to pay in its pursuit of nuclear weapons and missiles.

North Korea has almost been completely isolated by the outside world. Under such extreme circumstances, Pyongyang will weigh all its possible options. Washington should stimulate Pyongyang's desire to engage with the outside world and return to the international community.

However, Washington only wants to heighten the sanctions and military threats against Pyongyang, which is adding fuel to the flames. The North Korean nuclear issue is heading toward confrontation.

More and more analysts tend to believe that no matter what warnings the US sends or however tough the UN Security Council sanctions are, there is little possibility of Pyongyang stopping its missile launches. Now it is time the US seriously responds to North Korea's concerns for national security. The "dual suspension" and "dual track" approaches China proposed seems the only way out to ease the situation in the Korean Peninsula.

Despite overwhelming strength of the US, Pyongyang can risk everything if there is a showdown between it and Washington. The US should avoid such a scenario and it needn't feel disgraced because of it.



Posted in: EDITORIAL

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