It’s easy to make jokes about North Korea. For example, the following 2 photos show the entire North Korean navy:
And this photo shows the North Korean army showing of their entire collection of weapons:
But North Korea’s threat to launch a test missile over Japan tomorrow has raised tensions substantially.
Does this mean nuclear war?
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is a steady hand. As long as he is in control of the American response, things hopefully won't spiral out of control from the American side.
Moreover, as crazy as North Korea's threats are, they are arguably in response to massive U.S. and South Korean war games ... which simulate a nuclear attack on North Korea.
As the Wall Street Journal reported last month:
Some U.S. officials argued that the bomber flights would be unduly provocative and akin to recent North Korean actions, which these officials said have irresponsibly ratcheted up tensions. Defense officials acknowledged that North Korean military officers are particularly agitated by bomber flights because of memories of the destruction wrought from the air during the Korean War. [The United States Air Force demolished every target over one story during the Korean War. It also dropped more napalm than it did later in Vietnam.]
U.S. officials said they didn't believe North Korea could detect the approach of the B-2s but couldn't be certain. They noted that once the bombers passed over the Korean peninsula, they were no longer trying to hide their presence.
"We could fly it at night, but the point was for them to see it," said a U.S. defense official.
The Journal reported this week:
After a high-visibility display of military power aimed at deterring North Korean provocations, the White House is dialing back the aggressive posture amid fears that it could inadvertently trigger an even deeper crisis, according to U.S. officials.
The U.S. is putting a pause to what several officials described as a step-by-step plan the Obama administration approved earlier this year, dubbed “the playbook,” that laid out the sequence and publicity plans for U.S. shows of force during annual war games with South Korea. The playbook included well-publicized flights in recent weeks near North Korea by nuclear-capable B-52 and stealth B-2 bombers, as well as advanced F-22 warplanes.
The U.S. stepped back from the plans this week, as U.S. officials began to worry that the North, which has a small nuclear arsenal and an unpredictable new leader, may be more provoked than the U.S. had intended, the officials said.
“The concern was that we were heightening the prospect of misperceptions on the part of the North Koreans, and that that could lead to miscalculations,” a senior administration official said.
And the North Koreans are out of line threatening nuclear attack, and ending the peace treaty with South Korea
But given that the U.S. carried out preemptive war on Iraq, took out Libya's Gaddafi, is in the process of taking out Syria's leader, and has long branded North Korea as part of the "Axis of Evil" - and that North Korea has just undergone a transition of power and has a very young leader - many believe that North Korea is acting "mad dog crazy" to try to prevent an invasion by the U.S. ... and that tensions will recede as soon as the annual American-South Korean war games are over.
Like the small dog that rushes up and bites the ankle of the big dog to scare him away - because he is terrified of a real fight - North Korea is bluffing.
Postscript: Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is a steady hand. As long as he is in control of the American response - rather than people who might have other agendas (and see this) - things hopefully won't spiral out of control from the American side.