North Korea now says it won’t fire missiles at Guam after all. State media reports from Pyongyang say the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has opted not to fire missiles at this time. Instead, he “would 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,” Stoll 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.
Stoll says there is a history of North Korean leaders making provocative statements, 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 from threats to Guam and to the U.S. 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.