North Korea Is Trying to Goad America to Strike First, and Here's Why

FILE - In this April 15, 2012 file photo, a North Korean vehicle carrying a missile passes by during a mass military parade in Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the late North Korean founder Kim Il Sung. The enormous, 16-wheel truck used to carry the missile, likely came from China in a possible violation of U.N. sanctions meant to rein in Pyongyang's missile program, experts say. Pinning a sanctions-busting charge on Beijing would be difficult, however, because it would be hard to prove that Beijing provided the technology for military purposes or even that it sold the vehicle directly to North Korea, the experts said. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

North Korea just moved a Hwasong-14 ICBM – a missile capable of striking the U.S. – to its coast. It may seem like a code-red moment for the U.S., but clues point to the fact that North Korea’s missile launches is just expensive saber rattling.

Rest assured, North Korea is playing a dangerous game, but it’s less likely that Pyongyang will strike the first blow, and a lot of it has to do with China.

In July, China warned North Korea that should it strike the U.S. first, it would stand back and let Washington destroy it like a bothersome fly.

This warning from the Chinese was underscored by Defense Secretary James Mattis, who did not mince words when he said he’d destroy North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un, the Kim regime, and the country itself. If North Korea throws so much as a rock at the U.S., South Korea, or Japan, then the communist stronghold will see its last days.

For Pyongyang, that’s a lot of big guns pointed in its direction, and not enough at its enemies.

However, China also issued a similar threat to the United States, saying that if Washington struck the first blow, then Beijing would interfere on behalf of its communist little brother. This, of course, would trigger a series of events that would likely bring other countries into the fray, resulting in another world war.

At this point, the U.S. has two options:

The first option is to do nothing, and allow North Korea to further develop their nuclear programs. This is an outcome Trump vowed to prevent, even if it meant violence. However, China’s promise to get involved throws a monkey wrench into the gears.

The second option is to strike, and let the chips fall where they may. North Korea will likely take a decent hit in the initial exchange of gunfire and launches, but the country – whose main export is sadness – has very little to lose already. The exchange for a few proverbial broken bones would be China – and most likely Russia – teaming up against its most hated “imperialist” enemy.

The trouble is that despite the potential for World War 3 looming in shadows of option two, the first option carries with it a danger of great magnitude as well.

North Korea is hard up for cash. In fact, they’re so broke that they’re attempting to open up tourism to the Russians in order to offset the costs of their nuclear/ICBM program. The trouble comes with the fact that North Korea is currently spending money to potentially make money, and make a lot of it.

If North Korea manages to complete their nuclear program, then they can potentially become a nuclear arms dealer. I don’t know how much a nuclear missile goes for on the black market, but I assume it’s enough to make North Korea’s recent financial woes seem worth the trouble.

Furthermore, let’s not assume that anyone buying nuclear bombs from North Korea has America’s best interests in mind. A terrorist organization, or a nation looking to present a clear threat to the U.S. would be great customers for Pyongyang, and that customer base is fairly large.

We’re damned if we do, and we’re all likely damned if we don’t.

Pending a diplomatic solution handed down from God himself, North Korea is likely going to be the source of a lot of damage in the future.