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Korean War 2.0?

Shortly after the conclusion of World War II, the United States were confronted with the growing threat of Communist Russia. The Korean peninsula had been divided up into two region, one for the U.S. to control and the other to be controlled by the Russians. Under the guidance of Soviet generals, a provisional government was established with Kim Il Sung named as the leader. Eventually, Russian and American forces withdrew from the peninsula, but the North were planning an invasion to unite the peninsula under a socialist government.

The invasion drew the United States, Russia, and even China into the conflict. After three years of fighting and no end in sight, a stalemate was reached. Original boundaries were restored, the governments remained in place, but hostilities continued. Tensions remained through the next few decades with provocative moves from the North Koreans that nearly led to conflict. In the past few months, it seems that tensions have escalated to new heights. Does this really mean that war is fast approaching?

North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, may be painted as a crazy dictator that is bent on destroying the U.S., but there still is some level of strategy that the leader possesses. While there may be a good amount of aggressive rhetoric coming from the regime, the leader will not start a fight unless he knows he can win. The translation is that simply he will make sure that whatever action he takes will either bring about complete damage to one target and disable them permanently or be some other attack that involves an alliance with another nation.

The U.S. is correct to build up their military presence near the peninsula and continue to prepare South Korea and Japan for the worst case scenarios. The Trump administration is also wise to pull the strings in their relationship with the Chinese. In the end, it would be surprising if it was the Chinese that took action because they do not seem to have enough at stake in the fight, to take military action. The Chinese know that they are not the going to be the target of North Korea’s aggression. Thus, it is still not clear whether the U.S. will be able to count on China’s help in the future. Military action may have to be unilateral from the U.S., with the support of South Korea and Japan.

Through all of this rhetoric and tension buildup, it remains unknown if it will lead to war. The U.S. will most certainly not try to bait North Korea into a conflict and Kim Jong Un is wise enough not to strike desperately at the U.S. with no assurance of success. It would be suspected that the North Koreans will refuse diplomacy, continue their provocative rhetoric and keep the U.S. on the brink of war. They would want to ensure first that their presumed ICBM will fly farther than the coast of Russia before engaging in a suicidal conflict.

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