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Is North Korea’s latest threat all bluster?

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On Aprl 4, 2013, the North Korean Army released a statement saying,

The moment of explosion is approaching fast. The U.S. had better ponder over the prevailing grave situation

What should we make of this tough talk? Gordon Chang, a columnist for and author of “Nuclear Showdown,” joins Michael Shure inside “The War Room” to discuss.


ICYMI: Is North Korea’s latest threat all bluster? WATCH for more:  VIDEO with @MichaelShure & @GordonGChang

Also on April 4, Christian Amanpour summed up North Korea’s increasingly sharp threats and US-South Korean reactions in the following terms:
With the increasingly bellicose rhetoric from North Korea, the world is waiting to see whether what has so far been a war of words will turn to one of force. But North Korea is only one of several nuclear hotspots around the world that bear watching… read more
For Nomura senior political analyst Alastair Newton, interviewed by Reuters, the tensions with North Korea this time are different, not because of the threats but because of the US response to the latest crisis.
FPI executive director, Christopher  J. Griffin, doesn’t see feasible a U.S. effective answer to the North Korean last threats.
As the world waits to see whether the latest standoff with North Korea will end in all-out war or a restoration of an unsteady armistice, one thing is clear – the United States cannot reliably contain a nuclear North Korea, and there is no reason to believe that we could contain a nuclear Iran.

Although some pundits have argued that American policy toward North Korea is a model for handling a potential Iranian nuclear capability, even a brief survey reveals that although American efforts to contain a nuclear North Korea have thus far avoided another war on the Peninsula, they have incurred great costs…

Probably the biggest risk in the new showdown on the Korean peninsula, as David Pilling pointed out in the Financial Times on April 10, is the fact that «no one has seen the Korean Kid playing before» this «most fascinating -and unnerving game of poker».

The game started out pretty routinely. In December Kim Jong-eun got things started by casually tossing a missile launch on the table. Barack “Pivot” Obama raised him with a UN Security Council resolution. The Kid brought out a nuclear test, and was raised by fresh sanctions.

Since then the bets have come thick and fast. Mr Obama has thrown in B-2 and B-52 bombers. Mr Kim, in charge of North Korea since December 2011, has declared a “state of war” with South Korea and asserted his right to a pre-emptive nuclear strike. This week he raised the stakes still further. He warned foreigners to leave Seoul in case of a “thermonuclear war” and closed the Kaesong industrial park, one of his country’s few sources of foreign exchange. To many that smacked of unhinged irrationality, the equivalent of betting your wedding ring on a feeble hand.

The trouble in all of this is that no one knows the Kid’s “tell”. He may be a lousy novice. Alternatively, he may be some kind of poker genius…

read more

Personalizing the conflict rarely does justice to reality and in the North Korean case, with a 30 year old leader with very little experience in power, even less so. I’d advise observers to open the focus and take much more into account the influence of the military, starting with Kim Jong-eun’s uncle and main adviser, who have been dealing with this kind of crisis for decades. Doing so, the poker and the novice metaphors used by Pilling, would become less useful and would force each of us to search deep into the historical links between both Koreas and between North Korea and the rest of the world.

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