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North Korea, South Korea, the United States, and the U.N. Security Council have created a dangerous situation in East Asia that could lead to war if they aren’t careful.
North Korea has carried out new rocket and nuclear tests. It has torn up the Korean War cease-fire agreement that has been in place since 1953. It has threatened a nuclear attack on the United States and made menacing noises about developments on the Korean peninsula.
North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un, is hardly contributing to the prospects for peace in the region. On Friday, the Pentagon announced it is deploying more ballistic-missile interceptors along the Pacific Coast to deter a potential attack by North Korea. Some 28,500 U.S. troops remain in South Korea.
Also in response to North Korea’s rocket tests, the U.N. Security Council placed more economic sanctions aimed at the country’s feeble banks, industries, and other institutions. China, North Korea’s main protector in the past, has signed on to the sanctions.
The United States justified its recent military exercises with South Korea by arguing that the exercises had been scheduled for a long time, and that postponing or canceling them would have encouraged even more outrageous behavior by Pyongyang. At the same time, the Pentagon is busily seeking new financing, consistent with President Obama’s announced pivot to Asia in U.S. policy and the end of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but in the face of U.S. budget cutting.
A military conflict in East Asia would be undesirable and disproportionate to the real threat that Pyongyang’s posturing poses. North Korea is a sad case, but is not worth going to war over now.