The new brinkmanship
Not since the dissolution of the Soviet Union has the world seen this type of nuclear brinkmanship as is being witnessed between North Korea and the United States today. North Korea’s nuclear and missile programme has been a putative cause of concern for the USA, even though Washington publicly admits Pyongyang does not have and is not likely to have in the foreseeable future a nuclear warhead-tipped missile that can hit the US. Like a medieval tribal chieftain, Donald Trump has taken to bombasting that if China cannot deal with North Korea, the US would. Kim Jong-un’s North Korea may not have missiles to hit mainland America but it can target the umpteen bases Washington has within Pyongyang’s reach.
Kim Jong-un, the present head of State of North Korea, is as big a megalomaniac as his 38-year older US counterpart is. And both are unpredictable, if provoked beyond a point. One thinks his country is the sole world hegemon after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The other, apparently, suffers from a hallucination of power that makes him itching to take on the world’s most powerful military power. Both consider the rest of the world and the tens of millions of people living in other lands and continents to be expendable material in their competitive power-mongering, they are much less rational and circumspect that the US and Soviet leaderships were during the cold-war era. And they have also a much less sense of responsibility that they carry on their shoulders.
The tragedy is that the rest of the world is watching helplessly the muscle-flexing of two belligerent nations. One rash action by either side can plunge the world into a nuclear holocaust. Apparently there is no world leader who can knock some sense into their heads. As things stand, it is doubtful if China has any restraining influence over its tiny neighbour and whether it can drag the neighbour from the brink of a precipice. Even during the Cuban missile crisis of the 1960s, both Moscow and Washington showed exemplary maturity. The Soviet Union agreed to remove the missiles it had stationed in Cuba while the United States guaranteed the inviolability of the sovereignty of Cuba. In the game of one-upmanship that both sides are now playing, even a computer error can unleash a war in which there will be no victor and vanquished. The world or most part of it will be reduced to massive nuclear rubble.