The attention of the expert community, trying to assess the dynamics of threats and risks on the Korean Peninsula, has been focused on the first and longest tour of US President D. Trump for the countries of East Asia in recent days. The Korean theme was one of the main topics in the program of his meetings with the leaders of Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK), the PRC and other countries.
To the queer way of talking of the head of the White House, which is full of contradictory and metaphorical statements, the observers are already accustomed. The multi-vector signals sent to them from various capitals do not allow to determine, what line of action against the DPRK has the Republican administration for the current time and is there anyway at the White House a strategy in this matter.
Direct appeals for the beginning of military operations and threats to destroy North Korea, which the world has heard, for this time did not sound from the mouth of D.Trump. However, during the meeting with Japanese Prime Minister S. Abe on November 6, the american guest stated that the era of "strategic patience" and soft-bodied diplomacy towards Pyongyang, which led to the appearance of North Korea's nuclear weapons, was over and the US went on to harsh action.
A day later in Seoul, where he was greeted by protests by peace supporters in Korea and where ROK’s President Mun Jae Ying had repeatedly firmly opposed military scenarios for resolving the current crisis, Trump acted in a different key and even called on leader Kim Jong Un to sit down at the negotiating table. In Beijing, the US president tried to exert maximum pressure to persuade the leadership of the PRC to tighten sanctions even more and fully join the course of Washington of forming an impenetrable economic blockade against North Korea. However, it seems that the main goal - to obtain from Beijing a tacit consent to the military operation of the US against the DPRK and China's non-interference in the armed conflict - Trump was not reached.
Speaking in the Parliament of the RK, the US president described the DPRK in the darkest colors as a terrible and intolerant tyranny, a prison for the whole people, and on November 12, in his Twitter account, expressed the hope that he will be able befriend with Kim Jong Un. Reacting to the last remark, Russian senator Alexei Pushkov called it trolling.
Analysis of the statements and results of meetings of the head of the White House is certainly important, but more important is the assessment of the practical steps of the government he leads. But here the situation remains alarming. Continuing non-stop large-scale joint US-South Korean maneuvers near the borders of the DPRK. During the period of November 11-14, the most powerful naval exercises were conducted in this decade in the composition of three American carrier groups, which were joined by 7 ships of the Navy of the ROK.
The public opinion, political circles in the United States and South Korea stand in stark contrast. If in the south of the Korean Peninsula, which the author of this article recently visited, a relatively calm condition dominate with the public's belief that the White House will ultimately not dare to a military strike against the DPRK, then on the other side of the Pacific Ocean everything is different. Both American Koreans and experts from other countries are alarmed at how serious are worked out and openly discussed in US official bodies plans for a military operation against Pyongyang. Former CIA chief John Brennan assesses probability of a war against North Korea at 20-25%; former diplomat, leading Korean expert at Johns Hopkins University Joel Wit - 40%; the President of the Council on foreign relations at the US State Department Richard Haass - in 50%.
Most analysts rightly assess the current military and political situation in Korea as the most explosive since the "Pueblo crisis" of 1969 or even after the end of the Korean War in 1953. The fundamental reason for the permanent conflict on the peninsula is well known - is the unsettled relations between the US and the DPRK. Washington's tenacious unwillingness to normalize relations with Pyongyang, including on the way to its diplomatic recognition, draw a line under the Korean War. In practice, the strategic goal of the United States remains the liquidation of the DPRK in one way or another. In any case, this is how the state of affairs in Pyongyang is perceived.
Korean experts remember the persistent efforts of Pyongyang to get the answer from the American side to the next question: if the guarantees given by the President of the United States will only be valid for the period of activities of his administration and the easily canceled came to replace him as the new head of the White house, a more reliable guarantor can act of the US Congress passing a law, binding not only the current but also following presidents? Pyongyang did not receive answer to this question. North Koreans became convinced that in the modern "unjust" world the only reliable guarantee of security and serve National forces of nuclear deterrence.
Strategic Culture Foundation