Bellicose rhetoric, matched by the roar of missile tests, has deepened the crisis in the Korean peninsula, raising tensions to an unprecedented level. US President Donald Trump’s maiden address at the United Nations General Assembly, warning ‘total destruction’ of North Korea, comes across as a pointlessly bizarre rant at a time when global efforts are needed to ease the tensions. With their daily dose of belligerent war of words, Washington and Pyongyang are only feeding each other’s hostile narrative, bringing the two countries closer to military confrontation fraught with catastrophic consequences for the rest of the world. For generations of North Koreans, conditioned by their dictatorship regimes to view America as an imperialist aggressor out to destroy them, Trump’s blunt message will only exacerbate their existential fears. His needlessly combative tone at the world body may actually strengthen the cause of the reclusive Communist regime, which keeps its people in utter depravity and deprives them of even the basic rights, all in the name of fighting the evil foreign forces through nuclear weapons programme. Beyond goading Kim Jong-un, a maverick third generation ruler of the Kim dynasty, the US President’s address had nothing to offer in terms of strategy to de-escalate the situation in coordination with allies in the region and around the world. By using a juvenile epithet ‘Rocket Man’ to mock at the North Korean leader, Trump has ended up giving a handle to Pyongyang to further strengthen its craft of creating all-encompassing personality cults around its hereditary leaders and turning them into deities.
In utter disregard of the world opinion, North Korea has conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test early this month and launched numerous missiles this year, including two intercontinental ballistic missiles and two other rockets that flew over Japan. It publicly unveiled a plan to launch missile attacks on the Pacific island Guam, a tiny American territory with a strategic airfield and naval station that hosts over 7,000 military personnel. Amid heightened fears that the world is moving closer towards a nuclear confrontation, China, the only country maintaining diplomatic ties with North Korea, has warned that the crisis on the Korean peninsula is getting more serious by the day and the international community cannot allow it to spin out of control. On its part, Beijing has much to answer to the world because of its failure to rein in Pyongyang leadership and stop it from pursuing aggressive nuclear ambitions while keeping its people impoverished. Any military misadventure by North Korea targeting the US or its allies could quickly spiral into a full-blown war. Since war serves nobody’s interests, fresh diplomatic efforts, involving China and Russia, must be initiated to find a way to avert the crisis.