As North Korea issues increasingly over-the-top threats, officials in Washington have sought to reassure the public and U.S. allies. But the risk of nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula is far from remote--and the United States should adjust its military planning accordingly.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has anointed his third son, Kim Jong Un, as his successor. Kim Jong Un will have many obstacles to overcome. But powerful forces will encourage stability, and the continued, sorry reign of the Kim family.
The suddenness of Kim Jong Il’s death has sparked fears of instability on the Korean peninsula and beyond. Fearing a messy collapse, Beijing and Washington are trying to promote a smooth transition. But rooting for stability means rooting for the continuation of arguably the most despicable government on earth.