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Confronting Korea’s Madman | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang. (Reuters)

Nobody no longer underestimates what Kim Jong-un says. Nearly everything that he pledged and threatened to do has come true, the last of which was the major nuclear test that angered the United States and the ballistic missile that terrified Japan and landed in its territorial waters.

This young man, the president of North Korea, may in a single day destroy the nearby city Seoul or kill over a million Japanese people or launch a destructive nuclear warhead towards a US military base.

This is the first time since the Cold War that the world is living through a real nuclear threat.

Even though US President Donald Trump responded by threatening that all options were on the table – a phrase that usually means the use of military force – a war with this madman will not be a walk in the park. The difference between him and other owners of nuclear arms in the world is that Kim Jong-un is crazy enough to commit a crime without batting an eyelid. He has already killed his aunt’s husband and then had dinner at her house. He also executed his defense minister and later his education minister.

It is because of Kim Jong-un that Japan decided to end its policy of refraining from pursuing aggressive military power that it had adopted after its defeat and surrender in World War II. It has finally been convinced that the world is no longer safe and it needs to protect itself.

Even though Washington has considered North Korea to be an enemy state and a danger to its allies in that part of the world since the rule of Kim Il-sung, then his son and now his grandson, it has only made due with the siege policy that has failed to rein in Pyongyang’s development of its military capabilities. It is now a danger to the international community, not just the US, which are caught in appeasing Pyongyang and confronting it.

Yielding to the demands of the mad Korean president will encourage the rest of the madmen in the world to adopt the same policy. This includes Iran. Confronting Kim Jong-un militarily could lead to millions of casualties.

This is why the world is watching and waiting to see what will happen, especially after the US had excessively used its threatening rhetoric, vowing that it will not allow Pyongyang to possess nuclear arms. North Korea has completed six nuclear tests and developed its missile capabilities to transport nuclear warheads. This was demonstrated in the missile that flew over Japan and it is now on the verge of completing a nuclear bomb!

We cannot separate the North Korean predicament from how to deal with our neighbor Iran, which has close ties with Kim Jong-un’s regime in military and nuclear cooperation.

The ambitions of the Iranian command may be similar to North Korea’s. It may be aspiring to develop aggressive nuclear capabilities that it may employ to cement its rule inside Iran and impose its will on the region.

Failure to decisively resolve the standoff between Trump and Kim Jong-un may embolden other world powers, such as Iran, to an extent that they may no longer be deterred or contained.