By Chris Shaddock
While tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have never been good, in recent years they have worsened due to North Korea’s progression of their nuclear missile program.
Results of these growing tensions have caused fear amongst Americans and Asians, involvement of foreign powers, such as China and Russia and vague threats of war from both President Trump and North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un.
To understand the opinions of the people of DeSales on the situation, The Minstrel interviewed a few of the students and faculty on the situation.
For more than a decade now, North Korea has been working on nuclear weapons, but only recently has their nuclear program been a real threat when it was discovered that their missiles could, not only potentially hit American allies, such as South Korea and Japan, but also U.S. territories, such as Guam, and possibly the western part of mainland U.S.
What makes this a complicated situation is the ties that North Korea has with China. While the U.S. has the capability to win a war against North Korea, China would likely get involved, resulting in a war which would tear apart both sides.
China has stated that they will stay neutral if North Korea were to attack unprovoked, but has also urged the U.S. to not incite North Korea into attacking.
“I feel like at some point America is going to go to war with North Korea, because North Korea is going to do something to provoke us,” said sophomore history major Connor Cicchitti. “If it is in the U.S.’s best interest, they will avoid a direct confrontation until they [U.S.] realize it is probably the last resort that they can go to.”
Incitations have mostly been through President Trump. On Twitter, he called Kim, “Rocket Man.” Then at the United Nations General Assembly he claimed the U.S. will “totally destroy North Korea” if it is forced to defend itself.
Kim’s response towards these inflammations was by calling President Trump a “dotard” and the Foreign Minister of North Korea, Ri Yong-ho, has claimed President Trump’s actions are a “declaration of war.” The U.S. has dismissed this allegation as “absurd.”
“The biggest question I’ve had this entire time, with all the media talking about it, and the situation seeming to be escalating, is how much of this is just political posturing, and how much of it is legitimate threats?” questioned sophomore political science major, Tom Schaeffer. “You see this constant one-up man ship in name calling or threats being thrown from the United States to them [North Korea], and then them to us. They do pose a threat to areas like Guam, Japan, etc. You don’t just launch a missile over Japan, and send off sirens scaring all those people without wanting to threaten them, to show them that North Korea does have the capabilities to destroy them. It is just a question of when are they going to use them, and are they are actually going to risk it.”
In response to the North Korean nuclear program, the United Nations have enacted sanctions.
According to NPR, these sanctions consist of capping oil exports to North Korea at 8.5 million barrels a year, banning all North Korean textile exports and prohibiting any new work permits to any North Korean citizens around the world. These sanctions were also approved by China and Russia.
Additionally, the U.S. imposed its own sanctions, which bars any international bank from the American market if they make transactions with North Korea and will punish anyone doing business with North Korean industries.
“The issue facing us in North Korea is far more complicated than going to war and not going to war,” said assistant professor of history Kellen Gracey. “On one side you have us [U.S.], who had made a devotion over the years to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the situation here is that North Korea has gone nuclear. The biggest problem is that they would not necessarily use nuclear weapons on a city like San Francisco or Seattle, but rather the technology or the weapons getting it on the wrong hands. What scares me the most about that situation is if they sell that nuclear warhead to a terrorist. That, to me, is the biggest problem, and I do not think that going to war would solve that problem, in fact, I would make the argument that it would make things worse. I hesitate to say the answer is diplomatic, we have been doing that for a long time, but I do not think war is the right answer.
“In the long-run, we could help develop North Korea into a democratic nation and get them back on their feet,” said Cicchiti. “South Korea would probably suffer from a war, because they would have to put troops and supplies in. In the short-term, the North Korean people would probably be really fearful of us usurping their government, but I am not really sure.”
Citizens within South Korea, Japan, Guam and the U.S. are concerned over the possibility of a nuclear attack. This is in part due to Kim Jong-Un having a reputation for being unpredictable and, allegedly, unstable.
North Korea, in general, is considered by the United Nations as a human rights violator “that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”
“These crimes against humanity entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation,” stated by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in a report.