Are We Going to War?

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Joe Burtzlaff

Since Donald Trump became President, tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have escalated to a new high. North Korea is threatening war, the U.S. says it will act alone, and China’s policy on North Korea may be shifting, all of this occurring while the U.S. ramps up their capabilities in the region, deploying ships and submarines ready to respond to a North Korean launch. The recent rise in tensions have lots of people in America and around the world asking, are we going to war?

The simple answer is no, but something like nuclear war is never that simple. A big factor in what will happen with North Korea depends on what China wants. China is North Korea’s big trading partner, and the destruction of North Korea would significantly disrupt the Chinese economy. Another factor that has to be considered is the potential danger to South Korea. Their capital, Seoul, is just 18 miles from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the border which separates North Korea and South Korea. Should the U.S. choose to attack the North, the North would quickly respond with artillery attacks that could very well reach Seoul, putting millions of innocent civilians at risk.

To minimize a North Korean threat to the South would require a significant bombing campaign, possibly including nuclear weapons. A nuclear strike has both advantages and disadvantages. With good intelligence, nuclear bombs would be able to destroy North Korean missiles that are stored under ground, severely crippling their offensive and defensive capability. However, the use of a nuclear weapon would be followed by a nuclear ash cloud, which would very well drift to South Korea, making the whole Korean Peninsula essentially a nuclear wasteland, and would likely be inhabitable for decades.

In short, we are likely not going to war anytime soon. After all, China, North Korea, and the U.S. know the dangerous consequences that accompany a nuclear conflict in the region, and want to avoid it as much as possible. However, if North Korea keeps testing nuclear weapons, and the U.S. continues to increase their capabilities in the region, no one knows what either side would do. But for now, war is very unlikely.