by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Despite the escalating rhetoric between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, National Review Online columnist David French does not expect a military confrontation.
[M]any Americans are understandably nervous, but the chances that the war of words will escalate into full-blown conflict are still relatively low. To understand how the risk can escalate — yet the chances of war remain low — consider these three key realities:
First, North Korean leaders know that they would not only lose a war with the United States, they would also lose their regime and, quite possibly, their lives.
Second, to the extent that North Korea has any hope at all of achieving a victory, it has to strike first, achieve a degree of surprise, and find a way to deter the plannedAmerican counterattack (thus the rush for enhanced nuclear capabilities).).
Third, North Korea is prone to committing periodic hostile acts, such as sinking a South Korean warship, shelling a South Korean island, assassinating political rivals on foreign shores, and — years ago — even launching direct attacks on American forces in the field.
What does this all mean? So long as North Korea does not believe that we are preparing to launch an aggressive attack, they are highly likely to maintain the status quo. They’re keenly aware of the first rule. If there’s a war, they’ll lose.