- ISIL creates all-female brigade to terrorize women into following Sharia law
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Obama to Latin leaders: Help with border
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
‘Reckless’ Kim Jong-un won’t be tolerated; Kerry strikes back at North Korean threats
Question of the Day
Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Tuesday delivered a firm counterpunch to a wave of antagonistic rhetoric and nuclear threats by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, vowing that the U.S. is prepared to “do what is necessary” to defend itself and its longtime allies South Korea and Japan.
“The bottom line is very simply that what Kim Jong-un has been choosing to do is provocative. It is dangerous, reckless, and the United States will not accept [North Korea] as a nuclear state,” said Mr. Kerry, who appeared at the State Department after private talks with South Korea’s foreign minister.
Mr. Kerry added that it “would be a very serious step” if North Korea follows through with its most recent threat to begin strengthening its nuclear capabilities by refurbishing its previously shelved nuclear facilities and uranium enrichment activities.
The tough comments marked a shift in tone by the Obama administration, which, along with others in the international community, faces the challenge of making sense of the high-stakes posturing from North Korea.
Now, national security and foreign policy analysts are split on whether the latest threats are just the bluster of an inexperienced new head of state or truly indicative of an escalation toward a possible military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula.
Either way, foreign policy insiders point to a series of little-reported factors, both domestic and external, that might help explain the ratcheting-up of tensions by North Korea’s leader.
Cheehyung Kim, a North Korea analyst and historian at Duke University, said the nation’s history and domestic politics have placed significant pressure on Kim Jong-un to “establish his legitimacy in the eyes of North Korea’s ruling class.”
Mr. Kim noted that April 11 will mark the one-year anniversary of Kim Jong-un’s assumption of power in Pyongyang and “he has little to show for it except the fact that he’s at least, in speech, standing up to superpowers.”
April also carries internal political significance because it is the birthday month of Kim Jong-un’s grandfather Kim Il-sung, who led North Korea from its establishment in 1948 until his death in 1994.
Unexpected world events of the past two years also have stressed Pyongyang’s international alliances just as the nation grows accustomed to its new leaders.
Once-strong ties with the government of Syria have been strained by the ongoing civil war in that country.
Similarly, a revolution in Libya brought an end to North Korea’s alliance with Moammar Gadhafi.
Also, the past year’s uptick in relations between Washington and Myanmar has resulted in an end of the Asian country’s military aid to Pyongyang.
“Those partners are gone,” Mr. Kim said. “Globally, North Korea is more economically isolated and vulnerable.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Guy Taylor is the National Security Team Leader at The Washington Times, overseeing the paper’s State Department, Pentagon and intelligence community coverage. He’s also a frequent guest on The McLaughlin Group and C-SPAN.
His series on political, economic and security developments in Mexico won a 2012 Virginia Press Association award.
Prior to rejoining The Times in 2011, his work was ...
- U.S. intelligence nearly certain pro-Russian separatists downed Malaysian Airlines flight
- Israel's ambassador praises Obama, slams Human Rights Watch report
- U.S. scrambles as violence escalates in Israel-Hamas conflict
- MH17: Fear of ground-to-air missile strike becomes nightmare reality in Ukraine
- U.S., China to participate in unprecedented joint ground force exercise
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
- Rahm Emanuel: Send illegal immigrant shelter kids to Chicago
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- Pentagon running out of time to find mass of missing weapons in Afghanistan
- Family of Marine killed in Afghanistan pushes back against cover-up
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring 'God's Rescue Squad'
- WEST: Those who would rather join the jihadi army than their own nation's army
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq