Wednesday the entire United States Senate will meet at the White House for a special briefing on North Korea. The announcement came unexpectedly and leaves many people with unanswered questions. What are the Trump administration’s goals in this meeting? Is there new information to present? Is this just a ratings-obsessed President Trump desperately seeking the optics of a serious Commander-in-Chief summoning the Senate to the White House as a backdrop for reporting on his first 100 days as President? The biggest question on everyone’s mind, however, is are they laying the groundwork for war? There are a lot of things to consider, and the answers aren’t likely to be forthcoming, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
North Korea has ratcheted up their nuclear testing schedule, recently failing a test fire. The fact is that North Korea has had nuclear weapons for some time, but developing a delivery system capable of reaching the United States has evaded them. It is, to be sure, a matter of time for that.
The recent test comes on the heels of Trump incorrectly stating that the USS Carl Vincent is on its way to the North Korean shore. Most of the language from Trump regarding North Korea has leaned only toward escalation. If there’s ever a case where the United States has to be the grown up at the table, it’s North Korea.
Though North Korea may not have a means to deliver a nuclear payload to American soil, there are plenty of Americans and South Korean civilians within their reach. There are currently over twenty-eight thousand US troops in South Korea.
The question also remains as to what the Chinese would do if the United States struck out against North Korea? Would they abandon their ally, or stick with them? The tactic of dropping bombs on another government, then saying it wasn’t an act of war, like we just did with the Syrian airstrip, likely isn’t going to fly.
In fairness, there is a difference here. We all know that North Korea has WMD’s. Iraq did not. The cost of human life from a war in North Korea would be massive, and the conflict would very likely include detonation of nuclear weapons in densely populated urban areas. This is one of those times, like the Cuban Missile Crisis, where it is imperative to get it right for the sake of humanity.
Until we have the news in the wake of the Senate’s White House meeting, everything is conjecture, but we can all close our eyes and hope it’s just a ratings grab by our reality TV President.