The past 3 days in US-North Korea tensions, explained

The past 3 days in US-North Korea tensions, explained, by Alex Ward.

Tensions between the US and North Korea are already high, but this past weekend pushed them even higher — and to an even more genuinely scary place.

Two developments stand out in particular. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said in a UN speech on September 23 that it was “inevitable” North Korea would launch missiles at the US mainland. That came just days after President Donald Trump used the same venue to declare that America might “totally destroy” North Korea if it continued to threaten the US or its allies. Trump also belittled North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man,” a petty insult likely to infuriate the notoriously thin-skinned dictator. …

Thankfully, the US and North Korea are lobbing insults at each other for now instead of actual bombs. …

It’s worth noting that North Korea isn’t just made up of belligerent Kim regime officials. The country is home to around 25 million people — all of whom are in harm’s way should Trump choose to strike North Korea. And any attack on the North would likely lead Pyongyang to order attacks on South Korea’s capital, Seoul, where around 25 million people live in its metro area.

That means it’s still unlikely Trump would order a military strike — but he’s clearly thought about it. …

Most Americans approve of launching a military strike on North Korea “only if North Korea attacks US or allies first.” That’s according to a new Washington Post-ABC poll released on Sunday that shows 67 percent of respondents don’t want a preemptive strike on the North. …

One war game convened by the Atlantic magazine back in 2005 predicted that a North Korean attack would kill 100,000 people in Seoul in the first few days alone. Others put the estimate even higher. A war game mentioned by the National Interest predicted Seoul could “be hit by over half-a-million shells in under an hour.”

 hat-tip Bob