New reports over the weekend discussed that the U.S. Air Force is making preparations to return the global strike force of nuclear-weapon bombers to a 24-hour alert deployment schedule (which hasn't been done since 1991). This follows weeks of inane bluster from the U.S. President about raining down "fire and fury like the world has never seen" upon North Korea.
Can we please stop with this escalation of stupidity already?
Even a cursory analysis of the situation between North Korea and the United States reveals that North Korea literally has nothing to gain by launching a first strike of nuclear weapons against the United States. Not only would doing so guarantee their own annihilation, no other country in the world would feel particularly bad about it happening--and many would help carry it out.
For a country in North Korea's position, nuclear weapons can only serve as an insurance policy to encourage other countries (namely, the U.S.) to leave them alone. If we briefly look at all the nations that have been invaded or bombed by the U.S. in the last 50 years (a disturbingly large number), you'll notice a pretty clear trend that we haven't touched any nation with a nuclear arsenal. North Korea developing a nuclear arsenal, especially one that can threaten mainland U.S. cities, is an eminently rational move.
I am not remotely concerned about a first-strike nuclear attack from North Korea.
Unfortunately, I am concerned the U.S. President will create a situation where he feels compelled to do something stupid in order to save face. Or will create a situation where North Korea feels like they are being existentially threatened and decide to take a few million people with them as punishment.
Acting irrationally and unpredictably can be a rational strategy. North Korea has a good reason for appearing to be irrational and unpredictable because it can keep countries like the U.S. from engaging in overly threatening actions (like say, flying a squadron of nuclear-armed B-52s toward North Korea). Such an aggressive act could be misinterpreted as an attack and a seemingly irrational and unpredictable leader in North Korea may order a retaliation rather than waiting to see where the planes are going.
Acting irrationally and unpredictably as the leader of the a country like the United States is foolish. You have nothing to gain. Instead, you stand to lose credibility on the international stage. Allies will become reluctant to support your cause if they believe your big mouth is what got you there in the first place. No one feels particularly bad when the bully is waving his finger in someone's face, yelling, screaming, and threatening and the victim decides to punch them in the nose first.
I have no idea whether Trump really is a petulant child with a short temper and over-inflated sense of self-importance or not. But acting like it is not making our country or the world a better place to live in.