War drums are beating louder in Asia. North Korea launched another ballistic missile on November 29. In response, the Japanese government requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council and South Korea conducted a "precision-strike" drill, firing three missiles into the sea off the east coast that was designed to emulate a strike on the North's launch site.
Will a verbal war between a senile dotard and a little rocket man result in an actual war? Probably not, but at the moment, the risk is unprecedented.
The reason it remains unlikely is simply because the consequences of any actions are so catastrophic. Right now, this is the only deterrent to war.
Over the past three months, the world has watched the escalating tensions between North Korea and the United States with growing alarm. North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear weapons program since first testing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on July 4.
It is unlikely either side is planning to start a nuclear war, but the situation could escalate out of control and lead to a conflict involving nuclear weapons. This would have unthinkable humanitarian and environmental consequences.
Yet the arms companies that make such a conflict possible are benefitting from the increased threat of nuclear war, along with their investors.
The threat of nuclear annihilation is closer than at any time since the end of the Cold War as two heads of state use nuclear weapons as props in what looks like a fight between two adolescent boys.
On one side is a narcissistic bully, born to inherit great power and with credible reports that his personal life includes indulging in acts of sadism, whose policies in government are driven by a combination of xenophobia, ego and whim and who is threatening nuclear Armageddon if he doesn't get his way.
On the other side is North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
The unthinkable possibility of nuclear war is once again in the headlines after US officials reacted with shrill threats to the North Korean government claim to have tested its most powerful nuclear bomb yet.
This is the latest escalation in a game of nuclear chicken, with calculated provocations on all sides. But to judge from the mainstream media, it is only North Korea’s Kim Jung-un who is driving the world to the brink of a nightmare.
This is false.
US President Donald Trump's August 8 statement that any threats from North Korea would be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” should have made us all very worried. But it has grown worse since then.
The cycle of belligerency and threat making on both sides is intensifying. And it is always possible that a miscalculation could trigger a new war, with devastating consequences.
But even if a new war is averted, the ongoing embargo against North Korea and continual threats of war are themselves costly: they promote and legitimise greater military spending and militarisation more generally, at the expense of needed social programs, in Japan, China, the US, and the two Koreas.
We condemn the terror attacks in London and Manchester, but we also need to call out the cynical and dangerous response from those in charge who have one solution — more of the same.
British Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump are using these tragedies to ramp up Islamophobia, expand police powers, weaken civil liberties and strengthen the “war on terror” — the same policies that have failed to stop individuals from carrying out terror attacks.
Moon Jae-in, of the liberal Democratic Party, won South Korea’s May 9 presidential election with 41% of the vote, easily defeating his arch-conservative opponent Hong Jun-pyo, who won about 24%.
The elections took place after the impeachment of conservative president Park Geun-hye for her involvement in a huge corruption scandal. Park, from Hong’s right-wing Saenuri Party (renamed Liberty Korea Party in a bid to rebrand), was forced out by the huge “Candlelight Revolution”. Millions of Koreans mobilised in an ongoing series of candlelight protests to demand her impeachment.
The elections also took place in a context of the threat of war in the Korean Peninsula with US President Donald Trump’s administration ratcheting up tensions with North Korea.