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US-North Korea Tensions: Are we on the brink of Destruction?

The US is the only country on Earth, which has committed the gruesome act of using nuclear bombs against humanity. Towards the end of World War II, the then American President Harry S. Truman ordered Japan to surrender, or, “expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”

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Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un
Leaders of United States of America and North Korea. Salil Gewali
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– by Salil Gewali

Are we on the brink of destruction? Are our precious lives worthless in the hands of two lunatics? Can Mother Earth withstand another holocaust-this time a full-scale destruction? Will sanity prevail in those two demented heads?

Answers to these dreadful questions lie in Washington and Pyongyang. We, like the rest of the inhabitants in the lap of Mother Earth, can only be the dumb spectators. If the dreaded catastrophe befalls, it will be beyond our means to prevent, and beyond our means to survive. Yes, a series of a dreadful missile is being blasted off from the soil of North Korea too frequently. And it is duly matched with the more alarming thunders by the US President Donald Trump. It is frightful to imagine when these two capricious men will be losing their sensible judgment and start acting against the norms of humanity.

The US is the only country on Earth, which has committed the gruesome act of using nuclear bombs against humanity. Towards the end of World War II, the then American President Harry S. Truman ordered Japan to surrender, or, “expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.” He followed up his ultimatum by dropping nuclear bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the 6th and the 9th of August, 1945, killing around 200,000 people (Wikipedia).

This gruesome murder of innocent people can be attributed to the American arrogance of power, and affirmation of their destructive capacity. It has been termed as a war crime on humanity and a manifestation of state terrorism. Opponents of this kind of state terrorism argue that the American bombing was immoral and militarily unnecessary. The U.S. still justifies similar horrendous action against any nation, which does not subserve their interests. President Donald Trump’s shocking and outrageous utterances are extensions of the U.S. state behavior. It is frightful to imagine when this vacillating individual will act on his shocking threat of “fire and fury,” as his predecessor did (Article).

On the other hand, why does Kim Jong-un harbor a boundless grudge against the U.S.? Why is he inexhaustibly hostile to the U.S.? Why does Korean People’s Army plan to strike the U.S island of Guam and trigger a grievous conflict? Why does Kim provoke President Donald Trump for the deadliest conflict in history?

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Actually, the root cause of this conflict can be traced back to more than half-century. The conflict centers on the Korean War of 1950-53. The 38th parallel divided Korean Peninsula into two in 1948: the South Korea supported by the United States, and the North Korea supported by the then Soviet Union. The infamous Korean War broke out in the year 1950, the South Korea supported by the United States and its allies, and the North Korea supported by the then Soviet Union and China. Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong-un’s grandfather and the then dictator of North Korea fought this gruesome war against America and its allies with the support of the then Soviet Union and China. The War lasted till 1953, injuring or killing an estimated three million Koreans, ten percent of its overall population. This background left Kim Jong-un a wounded dictator. He has been planning a U.S. attack since 2013 (Amstrong). Recently, Pyongyang celebrated the anniversary of the war’s flare-up as “the day of struggle against U.S. imperialism.” (News, Conflict explained).

North Korea is estimated to have 60 nuclear weapons and it has the capability to produce at least six additional nuclear bombs every year. Their intercontinental ballistic missiles could travel about 10,400km putting almost the whole world within its range. North Korea claims it can mount nuclear warheads on its ballistic missiles. In September 2017, North Korea detonated its deadliest hydrogen bomb with an estimated yield of about 100 kilotons. This caused an earthquake measuring 6.3 magnitudes. The tremor was felt in China, about 400km away from the test site. It is worrying to learn that this H-bomb could be 1,000 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb dropped by the U.S. air (article)force on Hiroshima in World War II (News, North Korea testing nuclear weapons).

Experts estimate the casualties of a U.S. – North Korea conflict could be a minimum of one million. A nuclear attack by North Korea can decimate Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York. The U.S.’s anti –ICBM systems may defend the country from a usual test. But, experts opine, on the face of a sudden multiple ICBM’s assaults, the horrifying result could be unpredictable. Of course, the U.S.’s and its allies’ military assets stationed all over the world, including at striking distances could decimate North Korea in seconds. That could not justify the irreparable loss the U.S. would be inflicted upon (News, U.S.- North Korea conflict).

President Donald Trump and Dictator Kim Jong Un must introspect with all seriousness. They must exercise strategic restraint. They must avoid a potential flashpoint. They must think of a world outside their egomania. They must introspect on the devastating consequences of their protracted antagonism.  They must understand military provocations, militant statements. Crossing swords will not solve problems of this magnitude. So, they must listen to the reason and display the right statesmanship which the world’s citizens expect. They must display their compassion and exercise their prudence. They have never been mandated to hurt humankind and to injure the Earth crust.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter @SGewali. 

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President Donald Trump Key Force In Driving The Midterms Elections

Trump’s name will not appear on the Nov. 6 ballots, but, he will clearly be front and center in the minds of voters

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Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks at a rally endorsing the Republican ticket in Erie, Pennsylvania, VOA

Three weeks before a crucial U.S. midterm election, it would be difficult to find much that Democrats and Republicans agree on. Both parties, however, seem to agree on one thing: President Donald Trump will be the key issue in elections that will determine control of Congress for the next two years.

For many voters, the “Trump factor” could be a deciding consideration in this year’s midterms. And as the president campaigns on behalf of Republicans around the country, he is quick to remind his supporters that he has a huge personal stake in the outcome on Nov. 6.

“All of this extraordinary progress is at stake,” Trump told a recent rally in Southaven, Mississippi. “I’m not on the ballot. But in a certain way, I am on the ballot. So please, go out and vote. Go out and vote.”

Motivating Democrats

As much as Trump motivates his core supporters, he also energizes critics like Jenny Heinz, who helped organize a recent anti-Trump rally in New York City.

“There is an active resistance to this president, who is operating as if he is above the law.”

No question, Trump is the central figure in this year’s election, according to American University analyst David Barker.

“Yes, Democrats from the day after the election in 2016 have been waiting for this day, and it is all about Trump,” Barker told VOA. “Trump fully embraces that. He wants it to be all about him.”

Historically, midterm elections have been a mix of local issues, local candidates, and partly a referendum on the sitting president.

This year’s campaign seems to have accelerated a trend whereby midterm congressional elections have increasingly become nationalized.

“It really is now all national, and everyone is kind of looking at this as either a referendum for or against the president and his party,” said George Washington University expert Lara Brown.

Trump
supporters of President Donald Trump, wearing Mike Braun for Congress shirts, cheer as he arrives for a campaign rally at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind. VOA

In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, a majority of voters in both parties said a congressional candidate who shares their view of Trump is an important consideration as they assess the coming midterms.

Seizing the spotlight

Unlike some presidents who have tried to resist the idea that the midterms are a presidential referendum, Trump has willingly embraced it.

Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon told Associated Press Television that he favors the approach.

“I think if you make this a national referendum and nationalize this election on the success of President Trump’s program, it is a clear winner, and I think the Democrats get crushed.”

Others are skeptical, including former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

“All right, fine. You want it to be about you? Well, every candidate on the ballot now has to account for your behavior, has to account for your tweets,” said Steele, a recent guest on VOA’s Plugged In with Greta Van Susteren.

Climate Change, Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. VOA

Trump hopes to boost Republican turnout in November; but, Democrats argue he is likely to be just as effective in spurring their voters to the polls.

Maryland Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger also spoke on Plugged In.

“When all you do is care about yourself and not about people, not about what they need – like your seniors needing medical care. And you just want to look good and knock them out (politically), which is happening, this is hurting. And this is why, I think, a lot of people will come out (to vote).”

Tending the base

Trump has been aggressive on the campaign trail courting his base, especially in Republican-leaning states where many of this year’s closer Senate races are taking place.

“They are focusing on their base, and they are trying to make sure that they are going to show up and vote. And it could make some difference in close midterm elections,” said University of Virginia analyst Larry Sabato.

Trump, USA
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. administers the House oath of office to Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., during a mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, . VOA

Some Republicans have urged Trump to try and broaden his appeal beyond his base during campaign visits this year.

But Gallup pollster Frank Newport said the president has limited options.

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“He has kind of given up on attempting to broaden his appeal, it looks like. It fits more with his style,” said Newport. “He has, as we all know, a very combative style. He likes to have enemies because that gives him somebody to fight against. So, it would be hard for a president like Trump anyway to try and broaden his appeal.”

Trump’s name will not appear on the Nov. 6 ballots, but, he will clearly be front and center in the minds of voters, and the midterm results could determine the future of his presidency. (VOA)