As has been reported, North Korea’s Lena-Dunham-esque ruler, Kim John Un, has threatened to strike one of the 57 states, Guam, with a nuclear weapon. Guam is no stranger to danger. Once, you will recall, it was in danger of capsizing:
True, Guam contains some US military facilities, primarily Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam, but nuking Guam, given the international reaction, seems a lot like going for the cuticles of your opponent in parking lot brawl outside a Columbus, GA, strip club…or so I would imagine. So why did he do it?
Often, in these cases, it is easier to identify what he didn’t do.
A. Unless Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is now endemic (it is associated with cannibalism) in North Korea, we can rule out this as an actual war plan. It would suck to be be on Guam if Kim popped a nuke, no doubt about that, but even if the nuke caused Guam to tip over, the effect on a war in Korea would be negligible.
B. It is not a threat…unless you live on Guam. I’d be willing to bet that a vast majority of Americans are unaware of our relationship to Guam. An actual threat from North Korea sounds more like:
“We have no intention to use nuclear weapons or threaten with nuclear weapons against any other country except the US, unless it joins military action of the US against the DPRK.”
A threat would be to vaporize Washington, DC or New York City. To threaten the vaporizing of Guam isn’t going to cause panic much of anywhere. One has to assume the North Koreans know that.
If it isn’t a war plan and it isn’t a threat what is it?
The Russians insisted that the missile test the US, Japan, and the ROK rated as an ICBM was actually an MRBM. That caused a lot of discussion in arms control circles because either the Russians were privy to information that no one else had or their early warning radar system is so totally f***ed that they might as well have Mister Magoo on a tower. Was Kim trying to back away from the ICBM boast?
The North Korean threat to strike at the United States was behind Trump’s outburst today. Did Kim suddenly think that maybe he’d gone too far? He could keep a threat against the US in place but dial the threat back to a level that was not causing a great deal of concern in DC?
The only way this makes sense is as some sort of attempt to de-escalate while remaining sufficiently bellicose that you don’t look like you are de-escalating to the factions in your government. Or you could just be batsh** crazy.