Tensions with North Korea Incite Unnecessary Fear

By: Aidan Clarke, Contributor

For the media and fear mongering politicians, North Korea is the gift that keeps on giving. Iran has been relatively quiet of late, but Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump have had no trouble generating plenty of headlines and political points for those who have their talking points ready. Indeed, the public is being worked up into a frenzy, and we must be careful not to relapse into the “war fever” that swept the nation in 2003.  

However, we have nothing to fear just yet. Despite everything that has been said in the news, in the Capitol, and in the White House, war is not right around the corner.

Kim Jong Un, while a despot and a reprehensible figure, is not the deranged maniac he is made out to be. He is Western educated—a fact people often forget—and his family’s regime has stood since 1948. His pursuit of nuclear weapons is not born of some grand ambition or a desire to reunite the Korean peninsula, though he would most certainly do so if afforded the opportunity. Rather, Kim Jong Un wants nuclear weapons in order to ensure his regime’s survival. Achieving a nuclear arsenal allows the Kim dynasty a credible nuclear deterrent, capable of keeping China, the United States, South Korea, and Japan at bay.

Likewise, Donald Trump is not totally insane. More than likely, his comments towards North Korea are nothing but a red herring, intended solely to keep his supporters engaged and enraged. The other possibility is that Trump is simply trying to appear unpredictable in order to keep our rivals and our allies on their toes.

He would not be the first leader to do so. Richard Nixon is famous for his “strategic unpredictability,” directing aides and ambassadors to portray him as unpredictable and dangerous. He augmented this image through mining the Haiphong harbor and ramping up the bombing of North Vietnam. The results? Deténte with the Soviet Union, a politically acceptable withdrawal from Vietnam, and the opening of China-US Relations.

Ronald Reagan embraced a similar concept early in his presidency with his belligerent desires to roll back communism. Finally, Hank Greenberg sought out and hired former CIA personnel, and floated rumors constantly that he was being considered for Deputy Director of the CIA, purely to intimidate foreign leaders into opening their countries for business with AIG. Of course, we cannot know if this is the President’s aim.

The American people cannot allow themselves to be swept away by the talk of war in Korea the same way we were in Iraq. There is every reason to believe that this crisis, just like every other crisis since the Korean War, will fizzle out. Furthermore, handling North Korea is a mutual interest of the United States and China, one that can foster renewed ties and diplomacy. Both nations must be prepared for the collapse of the regime, lest we find ourselves in conflict while rushing to secure the hermit kingdom’s nuclear arsenal.

If war is to be avoided, Americans must keep cool heads, despite the talk in the media and in the Government. To put it frankly, “The greatest thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

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