James Clapper, former director of the US intelligence believes that the present US-Korean crisis would end ” on the negotiation table”. Despite all the doomsday scenario, the heated exchanges between US president Donald Trump and the North Korean government of Kim Jong Un, and the apparent saber-rattling of the Asian state, Clapper believes that war will not break out at the Korean peninsula.
Clapper based his observations on US conduct when Russia thru Stalin and China thru Mao Tse Tung built their respective nuclear bombs. A vociferous verbal tussle happened between the US and its two rival superpowers yet it did not lead to war, with Mao even threatening to unleash hell against the US by sending its missiles towards the American mainland, the very same threats now being made by Kim.
What state actors involved in this should actually do to prevent a possible outbreak of a nuclear war between the two is to de-escalate and try to set at room temperature what happens on the negotiations table. Trump has managed to elicit the support of China, Russia and the rest of the UN Security Council. It would be interesting to know what will happen in the next Security Council.
What’s certain is that the US is and will not change its position—North Korea should demilitarize and should abandon its nuclear program. For more than 10 years already, the US has exercised what it terms as “strategic patience” with Korea. Everyone knows that the North is already a nuclear power long before Trump came. The very reason why war did not happen between the US and the North is thru the deft handling of the US on the issue. Back channel talks, effective diplomacy and tolerance were the things which the US did to contain the North.
Of course, the US is adamant on its position for the North to de-nuclearize but the US is also cognizant of the fact that the rogue state needs its nuclear program as an expression of self-defense. By going nuclear, the North is in fact just trying to tell the world, and that includes the US, not to interfere with the internal affairs of Asia’s only remaining Stalinist state.
The question being asked of late—will the US accept the status of the North as the world’s new nuclear power– or the US will continue to insist the state’s de-nuclearization? CNN’s Zacaria thinks that the US will just escalate the rhetoric to impress upon the North that “Hey guys, you have crossed the line but we will still give you the benefit of the doubt provided that you do not do anything foolish from now on.” but will not strike first.
A US-provoked military strike would disturb the balance of power in the East. South Korea would get the brunt end of the bargain and an outbreak of violence in that region could drag Japan and China as well as Russia into the fray. The US knows that China is obligated to defend the North if it strikes first. China has been very equivocal of its stance in relation to this crisis—it stays neutral if the North strikes first. It helps the North if the US do something crazy as launch a nuclear strike or any military action that aims to change the leadership of the North.
Japan is also made itself clear–it will defend its territorial skies if the North unleashes its ICBMs towards Guam, which Kim Jong Un says, is the North’s probable target. The Philippines, for its part, pooh-poohs the North’s provocations and says that the Philippines is “far from harm’s way”