North Korean Crisis Reveals Biggest Rift in US-EU Relations Since WWII

© REUTERS / John MacDougallFrench President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump confer at the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017.
French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump confer at the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017. - Sputnik International
Previously obedient European allies of Washington have openly criticized Donald Trump's policy toward North Korea, political commentator Rostislav Ishchenko writes, adding that for the first time since the Second World War "the West" is split over the issue of war and peace.

Washington's ramping up of the war of words with Pyongyang hasn't got the backing of the EU, RIA Novosti contributor and political commentator Rostislav Ishchenko writes, referring to the fact that the rift between the US and its European allies continues to grow.

Recent weeks have marked a serious escalation of tensions between the US and North Korea over the latter's missile tests and Washington's saber-rattling in the region.

According to Ishchenko, the US leadership regards the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) as a "convenient adversary."

"[North Korea] definitely has nuclear weapons and no one would accuse Washington of lying, as it was with Iraq, Syria or Libya," Ishchenko wrote, "[The DPRK] has substantial ground forces, capable of resisting the aggressor; at the same time, the North Korean fleet is not able to operate far from the country's shores, therefore, it cannot threaten the US' strategic communications."

A man watches a television news programme showing US President Donald Trump (C) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (L) at a railway station in Seoul on August 9, 2017 - Sputnik International
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However, amid simmering tensions in the Korean Peninsula, China signaled that it won't tolerate any military actions aimed at toppling the North Korean regime on the part of the US or South Korea.

China's influential media outlet Global Times elaborated that Beijing will stay neutral if the DPRK attacks  the United States, adding that "if the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so."

On the other hand, Moscow and Beijing came up with the "double freeze" plan urging Washington and Seoul to suspend their joint military drills in the region in exchange for Pyongyang bringing its missile tests to a halt.

However, the White House immediately rejected the proposal, claiming that one cannot put Washington and Pyongyang on an equal footing.

But that's half the story, Ishchenko noted.

Contrary to all expectations, Washington's longstanding allies in Europe also expressed their growing discontent with the US-North Korean political standoff and most notably Donald Trump's warmongering statements.

During his interview with the Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel slammed the US president for "incomprehensibly militaristic rhetoric."

"The US president is using incomprehensibly militaristic rhetoric… The danger is that such escalations begin with language and end with military action," Gabriel stressed.

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For her part, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last Friday that the Korean crisis couldn't be solved through military options and criticized Washington and Pyongyang's war of words.

"Germany will very intensively take part in the options for resolution that are not military, but I consider a verbal escalation to be the wrong response," she said commenting on one of Trump's tweets on North Korea.

Earlier in the day, Donald Trump tweeted that "military solutions [against Pyongyang] are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely."

The escalation of tensions between the US and North Korea prompted observers to raise the issue of the possibility of war between Washington and Pyongyang and the potential reaction of NATO's European member-states to the conflict.

As Germany's media outlet Deutsche Welle suggested last Saturday, America's European allies would have been reluctant to join the US potential military confrontation with Pyongyang.

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Although Article Five of the Washington Treaty does stipulate that the members of the military bloc must provide assistance to their counterparts, it's up to them whether to dispatch their battleships or to provide diplomatic help to their ally, the media outlet highlighted, adding that Germany would rather use the last option.

According to the media outlet, Britain wouldn't have "leapt to America's aid" either if Guam had been attacked by North Korea.

"Although previously Europe used to obediently follow the US' foreign policy course… now it has unequivocally refused to help the US in organizing aggression against the DPRK," Ishchenko wrote.

"For the entire post-WWII period, it is the first time the West has been so clearly divided over the key issue of war and peace," the political commentator stressed.

Meanwhile, North Korean media reported Tuesday that Pyongyang had delayed its plan to fire missiles in the direction of Guam, where US military bases are located.

​"Kim Jong Un of North Korea made a very wise and well-reasoned decision. The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!" Trump tweeted in response.

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