By Aakash Gupta
After the eight year tenure of President Obama, in which no new country suffered its wrath, America is on warpath again. And this time, the battlefield has shifted to East Asia, to give Middle East a break for once. Mr. Trump, ever so impulsive and Mr. Kim, the ruler of North Korea, ever so belligerent, seem to be leading their countries towards an all-out clash.
Both Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump were born privileged. Both of them are likely to have as much ego as can move a roomful of nuns to curse. So it is only probable that the conflict between US and North Korea, which was simmering on the back-burner under President Obama, would flare up with Mr. Trump coming in charge.
But as much as it is good for both men’s self-respecting egotistical mania, it is bad for the world at large. North Korea is a nuclear power. And once any country has achieved that status, it is impossible to reverse. Especially in a scenario where the regime in power thinks nuclear weapons capability is its best bet to survive in an increasingly hostile neighbourhood, which has brought China, until recently its only all-weather friend in international arena, in its ambit too. China, recognising that the young Kim is uncontrollable and reckless and is not as much of a puppet that earlier Kims were, has voted for more sanctions on North Korea at the UN and vowed to restrict oil supply to its neighbour.
The North Korean leader has thrown many signals that his regime is willing to go to any extent to preserve and get recognition for its status as a nuclear power. Propaganda by the regime has also won popular support for resistance to US pressure and branded America as the country’s nemesis in public perception. It seems North Koreans are willing to overlook their relative poverty, isolation and general scarcity to protect their sovereignty.
No country can be immune from the horrors of war once unleashed. It is true that if a war were to indeed break out in the Korean peninsula, North Korea would suffer the most. But South Korea, Japan and possibly the US could also suffer serious casualties-in terms of civilian loss of lives, damage to military assets and a severe setback to economic development.
Meanwhile, international pressure on North Korea has ratcheted up with all non-engaged parties calling for a truce, a diplomatic settlement and a dial back to war rhetoric by both sides. Implementation of more sanctions on North Korea has irked the regime in Pyongyang which, in a show of defiance, has carried out multiple nuclear tests this year and now threatens to detonate a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean.
Markets across Asia and the wider world have panicked and dived after Mr. Trump’s maiden UN speech and Mr. Kim’s response, both of which were filled with personal rebukes. Mr. Trump called Mr. Kim “Rocket Man” and Mr. Kim called the former a “Dotard”, whatever that means.
It is possible that before a war breaks out someone in his right senses on either side is able to transfer that sense to the respective countries’ leaders. It is also possible, and desirable, that a diplomatic agreement is reached for with international mediation, just as in the case of Iran and the P-5.
But till then, the world sits on edge of another nuclear Armageddon.