These reactions are exaggerated, but if you have been paying attention to the news, it seems as if there is another new North Korea story every day. These stories often take sound bites from the secretary of defense or Trump talking about “military options” or from the North Korean state media about how they want to kill Americans. This probably provokes reactions like those above for some people. However, it is not nearly as bad as the news is making it out to be.
The reason the news makes a big deal out of something is for money. If the news media keeps pushing scary situations based off of sound bites, they know people will keep checking into the news because they are anxious about what will happen. This is why within a couple of days of every North Korean holiday, news outlets are always speaking about how they will launch a missile. They want you to keep checking back on the news because you’re worried about the missile, thus earning them money.
Many people like to be an armchair general for these types of situations. Armchair general is a term for people who have no background in foreign affairs or wartime strategy but still give their input and ideas for war. Being an armchair general is a bit foolish because a lot of information is kept secret from regular citizens and news outlets, and we do not know enough information about these situations. However, here is my take as an armchair general.
The DPRK missile program is not as far along as media portrays it to be. The missile it launched over Japan on Sept. 15 did have a large range, but it failed upon reentry into the atmosphere. There is a video floating around the internet that someone from Japan captured of the missile falling into the sea while on fire, proving the reentry capabilities are not within North Korea’s ability.
As of the time I’m writing this, North Korea still has not shown they can miniaturize a warhead onto a missile. Combining this with their lack of reentry capabilities, and that they have not demonstrated that they can be accurate with their missiles, it is probably a long time before they can build something that is truly capable of hitting the United States with accuracy.
Even if they could hit the United States with accuracy, the United States has anti-missile defenses and interceptors along the coast that are far ahead of North Korea’s military program. If North Korea launched a missile at the United States, it would have to make it past all of the missile defenses. Also, the United States military operations are far more advanced than we know. They keep most information away from the public, and there are probably many factors about North Korea we do not know and the defenses could be far greater than we know about.
North Korea is also not going to start a war they have no chance of winning. Kim Jong-un is not dumb. He knows he has no chance against the United States military. He clings to his nuclear missiles because it is insurance for his regime and a deterrent for invasion.
Nobody wins in a war with North Korea. China does not want an influx of North Korean refugees or a United States ally on their borders. If the United States attacked first, then China is obligated to help their ally North Korea, and a war between the United States and China would cripple the world economy. North Korea would also level Seoul and possibly Tokyo, killing millions of people, and nobody wants that.
War is so much harder to start today than ever. Most of us have devices in our pockets that can connect to almost anyone anywhere in the world. I can get on my phone and connect to any social media platform and start a conversation with someone from Iran, Iraq, Syria or any other place the United States has a shaky relationship with. It is through communications between civilians of each country that we’ve realized war is not in anyone’s interest but our government’s.
You can’t convince young men of two different countries to meet in a field somewhere and start shooting each other just because they are wearing different uniforms. This is what makes North Korea different as a country. Their nation is so isolated it allows the media to build up these stories that all of their people want to kill us because we have no easy accessibility to the lives of their people to tell us differently. I really do not believe a war is going to happen between the United States and North Korea because it is in no one’s interest to start a war.