A US carrier strike group on the move A US carrier strike group on the move. Photo: Wikipedia.

As the US ratchets up tensions with North Korea, the threat of a bloody war looms large

With a United States Navy strike group led by the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson within lethal striking distance of all North Korea’s military and political assets, Western commentators are still babbling about whether Trump has now been won over by Washington’s traditional military and political leadership and dumped his rabid pre-election councillors – or not. And, even more grotesque, they are speculating about the possible ‘value’ of Trump’s ‘go-get’um’ approach. Maybe his unpredictability is going to move things forward? Only in the last hours of April 14 are there some different and more sombre items in some Western countries media; see the New York Post for example. 

This fatuous media drivel would be funny if it was not so shatteringly naive.

A US carrier strike group (CSG) is an operational formation of the United States Navy. It is generally composed of approximately 7.5 thousand  personnel, an aircraft carrier, at least one cruiser, a destroyer squadron of at least two destroyers and/or frigates, and a carrier air wing of 65 to 70 aircraft. The U.S. Pacific Command said it ordered the USS Carl Vinson group, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and accompanying ships, including guided missile destroyers and aircraft squadrons, to sail towards the Korean Peninsula as a “prudent measure,” citing Pyongyang’s “reckless, irresponsible, and destabilizing” nuclear and ballistic missile provocations.

Among the various ‘messages’ that the Trump regime has been dropping in the last few days, in Syria and Afghanistan, is the most serious ‘message’ of them all, the ‘message’ to China that it has to stop North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Trump, and his strike force, accompanied by the Japanese, are not just meant to be observers. Meanwhile the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is determined to set off his sixth nuclear test. It is what happens next that will count for everything.

Why is the US suddenly ramping up its military ‘messages’ most immediately dangerously over Korea (read China)? In 2000 China’s Gross Domestic Product – the value in billions of dollars of all the goods and commodities produced by a country – was $3,616 billion. In the US it was $10,285 billion. In 2016 it was $16,158 billion in China and $16,663 billion in the US. (See OECD Library.) The U.S. debt to China is $1.051 trillion, as of January 2017. China is the key problem for the continuing US leadership of the world and the US is already losing the economic race. Welcome to the US’s overwhelming, global, military reach.

Is Korea genuinely a threat to the US? Not at all. The US military arsenal could extinguish North Korean military power in 10 minutes with a relatively limited attack and without a single ally responding in force. But the US is deeply concerned about China’s growing influence in the Western Pacific and East Asia and most immediately, about who dominates the South China Seas. The US strike group is aimed at China. Trump wants population-starving embargoes over North Korea from China as the price of no military engagement. This is the first episode of the critical international challenge of the Trump age. And millions could lose their lives over it. 

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