That Would Mean War!?

North Korea has threatened war if the U. S., South Korea, or Japan were to shoot down its satellite launch which is widely believed actually to be the test of a long-range missile:

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea put its armed forces on standby Monday and threatened “a war” if anyone tries to shoot down what regional powers suspect is an imminent test-firing of a long-range missile.

Pyongyang also cut off a military hot line with the South, causing a complete shutdown of their border and stranding hundreds of South Koreans working in an industrial zone in the North Korean border city of Kaesong.

Monday’s warning — the latest barrage of threats from the communist regime — came as U.S. and South Korean troops kicked off annual war games across the South, exercises the North has condemned as preparation for an invasion. Pyongyang last week threatened South Korean passenger planes flying near its airspace during the drills.

Analysts say the regime is trying to grab President Barack Obama’s attention as his administration formulates its North Korea policy.

As I’ve noted before North Korea is to international relations what Alex Forest was to one night stands: it will not be ignored.

Would North Korea have a cause of war if the U. S., South Korea, or Japan were to shoot down its missile? Of course it would. North Korea and South Korea have technically been at war for more than half a century and Japan has had a casus belli against North Korea for decades for firing missiles through its air space and seizing and holding its citizens. If every country were to go to war every time it had cause, there would be nothing but war. Fortunately, cooler heads prevail and countries only go to war when it’s in their national interests to do so or when that’s perceived to be the case.

Would war against, say, Japan be in North Korea’s interest? That’s an interesting question. Frankly, I doubt it unless they’re pursuing a Duchy of Grand Fenwick strategy.

UPDATE (James Joyner): I couldn’t resist adding in the Bugs Bunny cartoon to illustrate the post.  After all, “Of course you realize, this means war!” was a famous catchphrase of his.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    James, you read my mind. That’s what I was thinking about (along with the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup) when I wrote this post.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Heh. Great minds and all that.

  3. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    If North Korea were ruled by a rational leader, I would agree with you there is no real threat of war here. However, as we have a new and untested President who, by the nature of his political leanings, may be less than willing to commit the United States to war over the threat of the North Korean firing of a missle capable of hitting CONUS. I suggest the bluster of the NK’s could bode ill for us.

  4. Drew says:

    I’m not worried. Maddy Albright said everything is just fine over there.

  5. sam says:

    Frankly, I doubt it unless they’re pursuing a Duchy of Grand Fenwick strategy.

    Well, that would require imagination and a sense of humor…

  6. GM says:

    Obama might be uneasy about war with North Korea, but he certainly would not be uneasy about dedicating resources. South Korea already has plenty of troops, which would be the main force to deal with the DPRK if they come over the border. This is not afghanistan or Iraq in the least.

    What makes this so interesting is that Japan is none too happy about the North at all and they may react in a way outside of the US that is unexpected. I don’t think Japan is interested in having another DPRK missile flying over its country unheeded. The US is also sending missile intercept cruisers over to the area, definitely not something to be taken lightly.