US – North Korea: The Controlled Escalation

US – North Korean relations have hit recently another unprecedented escalation. A litany of threats and counter threats have brought the two countries into the verge of a military confrontation. After two weeks of heightened rhetoric, things calmed down and came to a pause, thanks to South Korean president who seemingly was advised by the US officials to diffuse the tension by assuring that no military confrontation should happen, and that only peaceful solution should be the outcome of the recent conflict. The whole show has started when PyongYang successfully tested a transcontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the US territories, namely Alaska. This has brought the situation into a turning point. Some US experts have stated that because of this test, Washington should understand that the North Korean threat is real, and this time it stretched out to reach not only US strategic allies in the peninsula, rather the American territories itself. Such a threat can never be ignored or dashed away.

Washington has set a double- edged policy vis a vis North Korea, the first is to escalate and cast fiery threats ( fire and fury), according to US president Donald Trump, and the second is to urge stabilization of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. In the meantime, and in a joint article, they coauthored to Wall Street journal, both US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and American secretary of defense James Mattis, have advised PyongYang to take a new path toward peace, prosperity and international acceptance.

This stick and carrot policy by Washington has not yielded any success, and the US has urged China to exercise pressure on PyongYang to rein in its nuclear experiments.

Any nuclear escalation in the peninsula is not in the interest of any party. China and US continue to pursue efforts to calm down the strained situation. However, the Chinese “double freeze” proposal, by which North Korea freezes its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the US and South Korea freezing their joint military exercises, was instantly rejected by Washington.

US officials say that they aim at reaching a peace treaty with North Korea or at least, concluding a treaty that would save the region from a devastating war. They claim that they have already given assurances that they do not have plans to topple the North Korean regime, meanwhile, Pyongyang has other thoughts as its bitter experience with Washington has scarred the memory with deep mistrust. Washington will take every possible opportunity to destroy the North Korean regime, not only because it poses a military threat, rather because it represents a symbolic threat and a challenge to the US hegemony worldwide.

Now, the scene has stopped at a moment of balance, but apparently not for a long time. It would not be too long before we witness another episode of escalation and deterioration, that would be remedied again with sedatives and temporary settlements, as the conditions for a final solution are not ripe yet.

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