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Why Donald Trump’s North Korea threats are just empty words

11 August 2017 6:50 AM
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Why Donald Trump’s North Korea threats are just empty words

Trump says his North Korea comments 'may not be tough enough'1:20

President Trump said his comments on Tuesday that North Korea would be 'met with fire and fury' may not be tough enough. He added that North Korea should be 'very, very nervous' if it thinks about attacking the United States or its allies.

DONALD Trump might talk tough when it comes to North Korea, but the reality is the US President has few options when it comes to stopping the rogue state.

That is the damning assessment by experts and analysts who warn there is actually no viable military option available to the US President.

In fact, they say Mr Trump’s rhetoric is inflaming the crisis even further while stressing a military option will only result in catastrophic global consequences.

Ashley Townshend, Acting Director for Foreign Policy, Defence and Strategy at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, said Mr Trump’s rhetoric was far from helpful.

“This sort of fire and fury comments coming from the commander-in-chief are highly destabilising,” he told news.com.au.

“His bellicose remarks on the North Korean nuclear crisis are likely to make Pyongyang even more nervous, raising the odds of an unintended escalation or misunderstanding.”

Mr Townshed said such exchanges were seriously concerning because a war on the Korean Peninusla should be avoided at all costs.

Mr Townshend added that while the talk of war was hypothetical, there was a clear imbalance in nuclear capabilities between the two countries and that should be sufficient for the US to deter North Korea from striking first.

Also read: Donald Trump should ask Congress to authorise use of force against North Korea

Professor Richard Tanter, a senior research associate at the Nautilus Institute and honorary professor in the School of Political and Social Sciences at Melbourne University, warned Australia would pay the price if any military action was taken. He stressed negotiation was the only way forward.

“Given the geography of Korea and the decades of military preparations of both sides we could become a participant in a war likely to result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Koreans, with a high likelihood of uncontrollable escalation to involve regional conflict,” Prof Tanter said.

“Informed commentators recognise that there is no military solution to this conflict, and talking is the only option to avoid unimaginable horror.

Also read: China's Xi Jinping urges calm in call with Donald Trump as US-North Korea tensions rise

“Difficult though it is to negotiate with North Korea, there is good reason to believe that its leaders are not bent on suicide.”

Terence Roehrig, Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College said while the increasing tension is concerning, he believed it was just a war of words. “Military action is a very bad idea, especially any type of preventive strike against North Korea’s nuclear and missile program,” he said. “Seoul remains very vulnerable.”

Kevin Gray, Reader in International Relations at University of Sussex pointed out the bellicose words coming out of North Korea are nothing new. “North Korea has resorted to aggressive rhetoric in the past,” he said. “Their threats often seem very alarming, but most North Korea observers, and I’m sure diplomats, quickly learn to take threats of turning Seoul into a ‘Sea of Fire’ not too seriously.”

Mr Gray said the strategy has been used by North Korea, which is essentially an economically weak country with a fairly antiquated military, to leverage its influence and get what it wants.

“What is new is the use of what amounts to pretty much the same kind of rhetoric by a US president,” he said. “This potentially adds a much more destabilising factor into the equation.

“If North Korea’s actions are primarily driven by its sense of insecurity driven by a strong US military presence in Northeast Asia, the prospects of a cycle of threat and counter-threat by the US could be very dangerous.”

Also read: Trump says he's open to military intervention in Venezuela

The stern warnings from analysts come as Mr Trump doubled down on his “fire and fury” comments on Tuesday and said they probably didn’t even go far enough. “They’ve been doing this to our country for a long time, many years,” he said. “It’s about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and for the people of other countries.

And yesterday its state media arm KCNA said Kim Jong-un was “seriously examining” a plan to launch a ballistic missile attack on the Pacific Ocean island of Guam, home to significant bases for the US Air Force.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this morning old 3AW that he had spoken with US Vice President Mike Pence overnight and that the administration’s preferred way to resolve the situation continued to be through economic sanctions.

Mr Turnbull said he thought the President was speaking in the language North Korean leader Kim Jong-un understands. “Because clearly diplomatic language has not been successful,” Mr Turnbull said.

Meanwhile former national security adviser Susan Rice was more blunt in her appraisal, warning that launching a pre-emptive war with North Korea would be “foolish.” She suggested a policy of deterrence was the only way forward.

Ms Rice, who served as US ambassador to the UN under former President Barack Obama, told CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer: “A pre-emptive war, if one were actually thinking of executing that, would be catastrophic.”

Also read: Donald Trump threatens 'military option' in crisis-hit Venezuela; Pentagon says it has 'no orders'

Source: news.com.au

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