U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are in the midst of a war of words over nuclear weapons. But there are no better options for dealing with North Korea than patient diplomacy.
I do hope Kim Jong Un has a little maturity and common sense. That’s a thin thread to hang the lives of millions of people on, I know, but it seems we’re almost down to that.
Just a week ago we were reminded of the devastation of nuclear attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
No sane person, no responsible leader wants to use nuclear weapons. But right now, Kim and Donald Trump are trading threats, and I worry that there may not be an adult in the room.
Clark Sorensen is chair of the Korea Studies Program at the University of Washington, so after I read a bunch of analyses of the current war of words, I called him to see whether he was worried.
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“Nobody knows what’s going to happen,” Sorensen said, “and President Trump keeps upping the ante.” But Sorensen said he tends to be an optimist.
“I don’t think the North Koreans will send missiles to Guam because that might give President Trump the opportunity to start hostilities, and I don’t think they (the North Koreans) want that.”
Sorensen said North Korea sees the relationship with the United States as asymmetrical. “We’re big and they’re small, so they use brinkmanship” as a strategy for improving their power in the equation — pushing as far as they dare, then pulling back. Like threatening to send missiles near Guam, where the U.S. has a significant military presence.
In that context, Trump’s statement that the United States would rain down fire and fury on North Korea, “Was not news to them,” Sorensen said. “They’ve been aware we could destroy them if we wanted to.” But he said Trump’s “tone and his aggressiveness is something they haven’t…