North Korea: A pattern of the past collides with “fire and fury”


George Bush called it.

Well…kind of.

In truth, saying that the 43rd President of the United States predicted the rise of a dangerous and news-dominating North Korea would be an unjustified oversimplification. However, evaluating his words of Jan. 2002 does provide a valuable perspective on the deep-rooted nature of the North Korean crisis. In his State of the Union, President Bush declared North Korea one of three nations along an “axis of evil” endangering the world, saying that “by seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger.” Indeed, even though North Korea has only gained lapses of national attention over the past decade and a half, it has steadily grown into a prominent threat marked most significantly by its touting of weapons of mass destruction.

Consequently, where the story picks up 15 years later amidst the war of words between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump, a clinical view reveals simply a pattern of persistent national weapons development by North Korea which has sporadically captured news headlines of American media. Over the last few months, however, coverage of the North Korean threat has been consistent, thus seeming to spike the nation’s legitimacy as a global power even though its growth in strength has occurred over the past decades following a linear pattern.

Back up a bit.

The current enigmatic and alarming chapter of the complex web of North Korean history began Jan. 10, 2003, when the nuclear floodgates were cast open, and the uneasy international community began to reevaluate their approach into serious concern about the Pacific dictatorship, as it was Jan.10 that North Korea left the global Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is designed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

The timeline of the results since reflects a striking path of stepping-stones which have culminated into today’s current confrontations:

2003: North Korea reactivates nuclear weapons facilities.

2006: North Korea claims to have successfully tested a nuclear weapon.

2007 and 2008: International peace talks form but ultimately fail.

2009: North Korea claims to have successfully tested its second nuclear weapon.

2011 and 2012: International peace talks lead to North Korea agreeing to halt nuclear tests.

2013: North Korea begins nuclear tests again.

2015 and 2016: Hostilities escalate. North Korea claims to have succeeded in several key steps into developing nuclear missiles.

2017: North Korean nuclear test causes a seismic event in the Pacific area.

President Trump’s blistering threats of “fire and fury” against the North Korean nation and Kim Jong Un’s response of launching a warning missile over Japan in August have since epitomized the verbal and militaristic exchanges of force between the United States and North Korea. Unfortunately, investigating the pattern of the past only reveals a lengthened history of escalating tensions and gives little demonstration of how to reverse the trend of heightening belligerence. Despite the clarity of viewing the repetitive cycle of the past (test, threaten, negotiate, crumble, repeat), the road for the future ahead in international relations remains hazy. A pragmatic approach, however, leaves one of two diagnoses for the future: a continuation of the pattern over the past decade or a departure from it (likely induced by an attack or a successful negotiation).

Ultimately, a critical analysis on the possible steps for our future places significance on the fact that nearly six in ten Americans believe North Korea can be contained, and suggest doing so without military action, according to a CBS News poll conducted in September. In the vast web of American politics echoing citizens’ demands for action on a number of issues, militaristic action against North Korea remains one that Americans do not want, despite the whirring storm of the international threats between Trump and Kim Jong Un. Perhaps the adherence to the pattern of the past is the most likely course for America’s hazy international future after all.

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