Q: President Donald Trump put North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, a designation that allows the United States to impose more sanctions and risks inflaming tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programs. How could Trump‘s policy affect China‘s and Russia‘s ties to Pyongyang? What effect will this have on North Korea?
Diplomacy never had a chance. It was not long after President Trump took office that he signed a directive establishing a North Korea policy based on overtly hostile measures. The Treasury Department was told to implement a series of sanctions against North Korea and those who traded with it. U.S. diplomats were instructed to exhort foreign officials in nearly every meeting to break off contacts with North Korea. That program has been accelerating in recent weeks, with far reaching consequences.
Amid renewed talk by the Trump administration of a military option against North Korea, one salient fact goes unnoticed. The United States is already at war with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK – the formal name for North Korea). It is doing so through non-military means, with the aim of inducing economic collapse. In a sense, the policy is a continuation of the Obama administration’s ‘strategic patience’ on steroids, in that it couples a refusal to engage in diplomacy with the piling on of sanctions that constitute collective punishment of the entire North Korean population.
Donald Trump is promising “fire and fury” in response to reports that North Korea has developed the ability to miniaturize a nuclear warhead so that it can be placed on a missile. North Korea is vowing to stay the course and fiercely defend its sovereignty.
Since Donald Trump became president, North Korea has conducted a flurry of missile tests, triggering a wave of condemnation by U.S. media and political figures. The reaction contains more than an element of fear-mongering, and it is sometimes implied that armed with an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), North Korea is liable to launch an unprovoked attack on the U.S. mainland.
What tends to be lacking in such reports is any sense of sober reflection, and much confusion is sown concerning the actual state of North Korea’s program. This article takes a closer look at North Korea’s recent missile launches and argues that they pose a threat–not to the safety of the U.S. population, as the corporate media claim, but to the United States’ strategic calculus in the region.