Commentary: Fake news increases tensions between U.S., North Korea


The threat of a nuclear war hangs in the balance as communication between North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump escalates.

For more than half a century, North Korea has been a thorn in the world’s back, but until recently it has not pricked anyone hard enough to give it serious attention.

Shrouded in mystery, the authoritarian nation has survived by living on lies. Its leaders continually beat their war drums, telling their people that an invasion from the evil American empire is imminent. North Korea made its rhetoric come to life over the weekend. Or at least, it pretended to do so.

After U.S. bombers and fighter jets flew off the North Korean coast, the rogue nation released doctored images of it shooting down a bomber and attacking a U.S. aircraft carrier, reported The Independent. 

The propaganda is just the latest move to escalate tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. In the past week, President Donald Trump reasoned that dictator Kim Jong-un is a rocket man on a suicide mission, according to USA Today. North Korea, in turn, accused Trump of declaring war on them, according to the Associated Press.

On the surface, it seems clear that Trump and Kim are pushing each other to make a move for war. The rhetoric comes as North Korea is quickly learning how to strap a nuclear warhead onto an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). 

Trump and Kim are schoolyard bullies in a turf war, and they know (hopefully) neither of them can throw the first punch. Trump is trying to scare Kim into submission, or at least to the negotiating table. Kim, who probably is scared despite appearances, is in between a rock and hard place. On the one hand, he has to continue the lie that Americans are evil and want North Koreans dead. On the other hand, Kim knows attacking the U.S. will inevitably lead to a war he cannot win.

Still there are several questions left unanswered. Why would Trump verbally assault North Korea when that just gives the country fuel for more propaganda? 

The next question is, how could the United Nations let North Korea continue its nuclear weapons program? The fear of communism was so strong in the 1950s that the U.S. waged a war in the Koreas, but the fear of a modern nuclear war does not seem to compare.

Both questions could have the same answer. It is possible that an ICBM equipped with a hydrogen bomb that can strike the U.S. mainland is actually not a threat. Maybe Trump does not care about what he says for the same reason previous presidents did not intervene more intensely with North Korea — because Star Wars is real.

While today the Star Wars program is called the Missile Defense Agency, the idea is the U.S. could knock a nuke out of the sky before it reaches its target. Officially, the program is still in the testing phase despite being worked on for more than three decades. 

The world can only hope that if North Korea launches an attack Trump will say, “Now witness the power of this fully armed and operational battle station,” and not, “Which way to the nearest bunker?” 

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