North Korea Backed Down, But For How Long?
North Korea now says it won't fire missiles at Guam after all. State media reports from Pyongyang say leader Kim Jong Un instead will "watch a little more [of] the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees.”
Richard Stoll, a political science professor at Rice University who studies international conflict and American defense policy, says Kim’s climbdown is probably temporary.
“If they weren't building nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles and making a big deal of it, no one on the planet would possibly care what’s going on there,” he says. “So, part of the reason they do this, I believe, is that it attracts attention to them.”
Stoll says taking an aggressive posture gives Kim the opportunity to show his toughness to a domestic audience.
There is a history of North Korean leaders making provocative statements, he says, then regrouping to await a response from the U.S. or other adversaries.
“I see this as part of a general pattern,” he says.
Stoll doubts that Kim’s pullback can be directly credited to President Donald Trump’s own aggressive rhetoric.
“I think the ability of the United States and other countries to deflect them from their actions is much less than we think,” Stoll says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.