Critics Warn Against Angering North Korea With Latest Missile Tests

Critics Warn Against Angering North Korea With Latest Missile Tests

( – When a new president takes over the White House, there is always a readjustment period when the United States adjusts how it handles relationships with other countries and their leaders. The need for adjustment is especially poignant when ideologies between successive presidents are disparate, as they are, for example, between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. In particular, one of the trickiest foreign relationships has been with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (a.k.a. North Korea) and the country’s sometimes unpredictable leader Kim Jong-un.

Case in point.

US Ballistic Missile Test

On Tuesday, February 23, 2021, the Air Force launched a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) from its Vandenberg base in California. According to an article published on the website, one of the purposes of the flight was to test the reliability of a new reentry vehicle that would carry nuclear warheads in the event of a real war.

However, a piece in the NK News quoted several experts who believe the North Korean leader could interpret the test flight as a reason to increase his own building and testing of nuclear missiles. For example, Ankit Panda, a senior fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, feels Kim’s prior reaction to these types of launches could cause the dictator to see this as a green light to test his own ICBMs.

Mixed Messages

The United States has a program in place aimed at the development of missile defense strategies, including ways to shoot down missiles aimed at America, its military assets, or an allied nation. The vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Hyten, said that “our national missile defense capability is clearly focused on North Korea right now, not on China, Russia, and Iran.”

But, an Op/Ed in the Washington Post dated February 25, 2021, advises President Biden and his people to take a different tack that’s best described as appeasement. The writer refers to a paper published by the think tank 38 North (a reference to the demilitarized zone that divides the peninsula), which claims that complete denuclearization is “unachievable.”

How the new president will deal with the North Korean leader — or how the Chinese or the Russians will react — is impossible to know, but hopefully, someone in the administration knows more history than those from the WaPo piece seem to comprehend. In the years leading up to World War II, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain tried to go the appeasement route with Germany’s Adolf Hitler — and we all know how well that turned out.

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