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What does North Korea hope to achieve?

Caricature of SteveWhen there was much debate about the Nuclear Arms Treaty, I wrote that North Korea was a greater nuclear threat than Iran. That truth now is apparent to others who previously ignored the words and actions from Pyongyang.

However, this saber rattling between Pyongyang and Washington is puzzling. It’s unclear what North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un hopes to achieve with his bellicose actions and words. Yes, the same question can be asked of President Trump.

North Korea poses no realistic threat to America other than a potential one-off strike against a western U.S. target. Our military response would obliterate large swaths of North Korea and leave the nation is ashes. But the collateral damage to South Korea and diplomatic repercussions from Asian neighbors would be colossal.

Concern about the military ambitions of Mr. Kim and possible response by Mr. Trump occupies much of today’s media discussion. But our contemporary hyperbolic punditry threatens to drown any serious dispassionate debate about the reality of North Korea’s military strength, her actual intentions or a sober reflection about options by the White House.

The tendency of two leaders on opposite sides of the Pacific to exchange incendiary words is worthy of media focus. And President Trump’s tendency to threaten real and imaginary enemies should concern us.

But the basic question remains: what does Kim Jong Un with these increasing displays of military strength?

He appears to be signaling North Korea’s aspirations of regional hegemony and warning to her neighbors that Pyongyang is a force to be recognized.

If so, the western rim of the Pacific Ocean should be more worried than the United States.

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