Washington's 'Game of Chicken' With N Korea Could Have Catastrophic Consequences

© AP Photo / Ahn Young-joonA man watches a television screen showing U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea. (File)
A man watches a television screen showing U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea. (File) - Sputnik International
The US government must avoid preventive war against North Korea and instead embrace the proposal by China and Russia that requires Washington to cease militaristic activities in return for a nuclear freeze by Pyongyang, analysts told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Analysts claim that the US government must avoid preventive war against North Korea. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that if North Korea kept up its "reckless behavior," the United States would have to defend itself and its allies. In this scenario North Korea would be "destroyed."

North Korea has neared the "final stage" of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), South Korea's defense ministry said on Monday.


The threat of a full-scale war that would kill many millions of people and quickly go nuclear could still be averted if the United States embraced the Russian and Chinese initiatives to defuse the crisis, University of Illinois Professor of Law Francis Boyle told Sputnik on Monday.

"The proposal by Russia and China for a ‘dual-freeze’ is an excellent basis to produce good faith and direct negotiations between the United States and the Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK) as required by the UN Charter," Boyle said.

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US threats of launching a so-called preventive war against North Korea were illegal under international law and according to legal precedents that the United States had itself helped to create and claimed to subscribe to, Boyle pointed out.

"This is an illegal and criminal threat in violation of international law. According to the World Court in its Advisory Opinion (1996) on the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, the legality of a threat stands or falls on the same legal grounds as if the threat were carried out," he stated.

The repeated US government threats to "destroy" or "annihilate" the DPRK were an international crime under the 1948 Genocide Convention to which the United States was a party, Boyle recalled.

"These genocidal threats are also illegal and criminal under the rationale of the 1996 World Court Advisory Opinion mentioned above," he said.

The Trump administration was "ratcheting up these provocations in the hope that they will provoke the DPRK to commit an act of aggression against the United States that the USA can then use as a pretext for war," he said.

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The purpose of the escalating US public rhetoric was to try to isolate North Korea by provoking Pyongyang into carrying out a first strike that would deprive it of China’s military support in any war, Boyle explained.

"Pursuant to the terms of their mutual self-defense treaty, China has stated that if the United States attacks first it will defend the DPRK, but that if the DPRK strikes first, China will remain out of any war. So the United States is trying to provoke the DPRK into striking first," he said.

The Trump administration was making an extremely dangerous situation worse by its reckless rhetoric, Boyle warned.

"It is really up to the United States to take the first step down the ladder of escalation that it has constructed here. Instead it appears that the Trump administration is going to escalate up the ladder of escalation in the hope and expectation that DPRK will capitulate," he said.

Washington was indulging in a game of bluster and bluff with Pyongyang that could have catastrophic consequences for the world, Boyle cautioned.

"This is what international political scientists call a game of chicken — with cosmic consequences. Who will blink first? Anything can go wrong," he said.


University of California Santa Cruz Professor Christine Hong agreed that the rhetoric of escalation that was driving growing fears of full-scale war was coming from Washington, not Pyongyang.

"It is important to recognize that with the Cold War in theory over, North Korea has asked the United States on multiple occasions to abandon its hostile policies and to conclude a permanent peace agreement," she said.

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From the Obama era to now, North Korea had put a reasonable offer on the table, Hong recalled.

"If the United States suspends its provocative war games that it conducts with its South Korean ally — war games that rehearse the invasion and occupation of North Korea, the ‘decapitation’ of its leadership, and a nuclear first strike — North Korea will suspend its nuclear tests," she recalled.

China and Russia had both backed this proposal, Hong noted.

"The Trump administration, which has been in utter disarray, has yet to take this proposal seriously. Yet this is the only sane pathway forward," she said.

The Obama and Trump administrations were guilty of perpetuating a historic double standard towards North Korea, condemning Pyongyang for security policies that they and other nations routinely practiced, Hong added.

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