North Korea: A Crisis Brewing?

What does Saturday’s (15 April) attempted missile launch by North Korea – which failed when it exploded immediately after lift-off – tell us?

What does Saturday’s huge parade of North Korean military might – to international media –  during the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, its “eternal president”, and grandfather of Kim Jong-un, tell us?

What does Friday’s statement from the North’s Korean People’s Army (KPA) threatening strikes against US military bases and other targets in South Korea, tell us?

And, importantly, what does Wednesday’s phrase from Donald Trump, “North Korea is a problem, the problem will be taken care of,” tell us?

It tells us that all is not well. It tells us that a needless conflict is growing.

When military power is being shown off by USA and North Korea to the world, it tells us that there is a growing animosity; and it is definitely not conducive to world peace.

When North Korea is test launching missiles against international conventions, and when United States’ super aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, with its fleet of other vessels, is being moved into North Korean waters, it tells us that we may reach the brink of war, quickly.

Confrontational positions by countries can often lead to more and more aggressiveness. And increased aggressiveness can often lead to not only a serious diplomatic crisis, but also to a huge military crisis.

In response to a series of nuclear missile tests which North Korea had been conducting, US President Donald Trump, on Wednesday, told the Fox Business Network that he is taking action. That was right after he ordered the launch of missiles into Syria a few days ago.

“We are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier,” he said.

It is another matter that Trump has reneged on his election promises that he will keep America first, and that he won’t get USA involved in wars abroad.

So, now, the “armada,” officially called the U.S. Navy’s Carrier Strike Group 1, is making its way toward North Korea, led by the flagship U.S.S. Carl Vinson.

The missile launch need not really be a surprise in diplomatic circles, because, historically, Pyongyang has launched missile tests around important dates on the North Korean calendar, like its last Saturday’s national holiday.

There is an interesting play of diplomacy we can see in the Pacific Ocean at the moment.

Japan and South Korea feel that US is doing the right thing. But, by trying to show North Korea its place, won’t USA aggravate North Korea to take a more firmer stand? Probably, a dangerous one?

It would. After all, Pyongyang had vowed a “merciless” response to any US military action, just a few days ago!

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had these words: “Lately, tensions have risen… and one has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment…. If a war occurs, the result is a situation in which everybody loses and there can be no winner.”

And we have to agree with the Chinese Foreign Minister, that these are not the days for war. We are in the 21st century. And wars, I think, should belong to the past.

Chinese Foreign Minister is saying that whichever side provoked a conflict “must assume the historic responsibility and pay the corresponding price.”

It is clear that the price would be very heavy. And no one should pay the price of war.

Which is why, I welcome the words on China’s Foreign Ministry website which say that Mr Wang had told his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov,  that “China is ready to coordinate closely with Russia to help cool down as soon as possible the situation on the peninsula and encourage the parties concerned to resume dialogue.”

Let us hope that China and Russia will together broker peace, even though Japan and South Korea  might want a tougher stance from their ally, the United States of America.