The regime of Kim Jong-un governs North Korea through fear, paranoia, terror and torture. It is a regime that exists on a permanent war footing, theoretically ready to unleash its peoples’ forces on whatever enemy of the month threatens its neo-Stalinist existence. It is a leadership that treats its people, its entire economy, its entire state as subservient to the needs of Kim and his closest advisers. It stands alone, projects an image of national strength — but its people live miserable lives. Any message to its people is tightly controlled, highly orchestrated and propagandised to the nth degree.
What Kim and his Communist cadres have done over the past years is to embark upon a deliberately provocative programme to develop a nuclear arsenal, to try to miniaturise a nuclear device, and to build an intercontinental ballistic capability to launch a missile towards a given target, and allow the rocket to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere intact and detonate on a given target. Right now, despite a series of launches and all the regime’s attendant propaganda, it’s highly doubtful if indeed Pyongyang can put all these elements together. But it is trying.
Right now, the regime is an irritant, making increasingly bellicose noises, and particularly more so since biting United Nations Security Council sanctions effectively eliminated one-third of North Korea’s economy and exports.
United States President Donald Trump has responded to these threatening statements from the regime by uttering some of his own, promising to rain fire and fury on North Korea, and issuing a stark reminder of the nuclear capabilities of the US. Those remarks have simply played into Kim’s hand, offering the regime a perfect storm to remind its people that indeed, Washington and Trump are the enemy, and want to wipe North Korea and its people from the map.
In response, Kim has promised to strike at Guam, a US dependency and home to US Navy and Air Force bases, and his generals are drawing up a strategic plan to hit it by the middle of the month.
Let’s be clear: If North Korea is indeed going to strike Guam, the last thing it would do is give the world’s most technically advanced military prior notice of the day and target of any attack. And the last thing the rest of the world needs right now is a war of words. Let the sanctions work, let silence set in, and let’s hope that briefcase with the nuclear codes never gets used.