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How likely is it the U.S will go to war with North Korea?

USA Today

Lucas Gonzalez, News Editor

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During President Trump’s recent trip to Asia, he called for unification of the continent, along with the United States, to confront the threat of North Korea. Trump and the leadership in China have agreed that avoiding a conflict with North Korea is a must.

Despite the aggression from North Korea, neither side wants to start a war, according to Chris Martin, North Korean military analyst.

The danger of either side initiating a war is even lower after Trump’s trip to Asia, according to Donna Schlagheck, former chair of political science at Wright State. There is no reason for the U.S. to start a conflict, and Kim Jong Un understands that North Korea is outgunned, strategically and militarily, according to Martin. 

Regardless, North Korea’s artillery presents “an enormous combat challenge,” said Jonathan Winkler, chair of the history department.

The biggest concern at this point is the possibility of an accidental war, according to Schlagheck. That would mean someone misinterpreting an event or another’s actions. There are multiple ways in which that could happen — such as a U.S. aircraft crashing near North Korea; that could be interpreted as a serious threat, which could result in a military conflict.

Even if North Korea didn’t engage with the U.S. directly, the chance of war still exists.

“Any overt threat or attack to the U.S., South Korea, or Japan could result in a military conflict,” said Schlagheck.

Another danger of the North Korean conflict is pushing Kim Jong Un into a corner. If he is in such a position, it would be impossible to predict how he would act. If the situation escalates to that point, there is a chance that their military will unleash its full power, according to Martin.

If we did engage North Korea, any outcome would be disastrous; the incident could spiral out of control. North Korea’s artillery would be hard to get to because it is hidden within the terrain. The most likely target would be Seoul, the capital of South Korea, because it is in the range of that artillery.

A full-force attack on Seoul could be sustained for up to 72 hours, according to Martin. The estimated casualties could range from a conservative estimate of 250,000, up to 3 million if they detonated a nuclear weapon. Notably, about 50 to 75 thousand of those people are American citizens.

U.S. policy on North Korea appears to be in favor of total denuclearization of the country, according to Martin.

The challenge we face is that, for Kim Jong Un, the program is a key tool for international diplomacy, and one that he would not willingly give up.

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Wright State University
How likely is it the U.S will go to war with North Korea?