The Relentless Push Towards War

The only real constant to be found in both European and US politics is war.  A steady feature of both regions for the past 20+ years has been small, lucrative conflicts waged against countries unable to effectively defend themselves. 

It doesn’t seem to matter who’s in office in the US -- Republican/Democrat, conservative/liberal -- there’s a war machine constantly running. My concern is that there's a building risk that one day that war machine is going to bust apart. And when it does, the long relative peace that the US and Europe have enjoyed (even as they’ve visited a lot of death and destruction elsewhere) will be shattered.

As I’ve written extensively in the past, as was the case with Russia last fall, this push to war includes a series of carefully-crafted talking points being endlessly repeated over the print and airwaves.  It’s an ever-present condition of living in our manufactured reality, where what we are told to care about is beamed at us around the clock  in a rather tediously but emotionally-manipulative way on the “news.”

For a short historical review, recall that it wasn’t that long ago that we were asked to be in a near state of panic about:

  • Ebola
  • Iran’s nuclear capabilities
  • Libya’s terrible strongman (who turned out to be way better than the thugs who replaced him)
  • Terrorists
  • Russia

How many of those are now ‘front and center' in your concerns?  Probably none.  Today's big ‘bogeyman’ is North Korea.  Have you wondered why?

The news about North Korea is at a fever pitch.  Again, we have to ask, why now?

Trump says 'major, major' conflict with North Korea possible, but seeks diplomacy

Apr 28, 2017

The Trump administration on Wednesday declared North Korea "an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority." It said it was focusing on economic and diplomatic pressure, including Chinese cooperation in containing its defiant neighbor and ally, and remained open to negotiations.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday a major conflict with North Korea is possible in the standoff over its nuclear and missile programs, but he would prefer a diplomatic outcome to the dispute.

"There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely," Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview ahead of his 100th day in office on Saturday.

Nonetheless, Trump said he wanted to peacefully resolve a crisis that has bedeviled multiple U.S. presidents, a path that he and his administration are emphasizing by preparing a variety of new economic sanctions while not taking the military option off the table.

"We'd love to solve things diplomatically but it's very difficult," he said.

In other highlights of the 42-minute interview, Trump was cool to speaking again with Taiwan's president after an earlier telephone call with her angered China.

He also said he wants South Korea to pay the cost of the U.S. THAAD anti-missile defense system, which he estimated at $1 billion, and intends to renegotiate or terminate a U.S. free trade pact with South Korea because of a deep trade deficit with Seoul.

U.S. officials said military strikes remained an option but played down the prospect, though the administration has sent an aircraft carrier and a nuclear-powered submarine to the region in a show of force.

Any direct U.S. military action would run the risk of massive North Korean retaliation and huge casualties in Japan and South Korea and among U.S. forces in both countries.


Okay, let’s parse all that out:

  • There are no direct negotiations between the US and North Korea
  • Trump is talking tough
  • Kim Jong Un is insane
  • Trump wants South Korea to pay for a $1 billion US piece of hardware
  • Trump wants to renegotiate or terminate the trade pact with South Korea
  • If things ‘go hot’, a lot of casualties are expected
  • Both China and North Korea are very alarmed by the THAAD anti-missile system the US has installed in South Korea
  • The US is maneuvering military assets into the region, including an aircraft carrier and sub, among other displays of suggested force

Let’s see here…what could possibly go wrong?

How about everything?

Here’s some more on the THAAD anti-missile defense system, which wasn't well received by the locals in South Korea who, for some reason, have no interest in being dragged into a war with their immediate and heavily-militarized neighbors by a careless US administration:

US sets up missile defense in S. Korea as North shows power

Apr 26, 2017

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — In a defiant bit of timing, South Korea announced Wednesday that key parts of a contentious U.S. missile defense system had been installed a day after rival North Korea showed off its military power.

The South's trumpeting of progress on setting up the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, comes as high-powered U.S. military assets converge on the Korean Peninsula and as a combative North Korea signals possible nuclear and missile testing.

About 8,000 police officers were mobilized, and the main road leading up to the site in the country's southeast was blocked earlier Wednesday, Yonhap reported. About 200 residents and protesters rallied against THAAD in front of a local community center, some hurling plastic water bottles.

North Korea conducted live-fire artillery drills on Tuesday, the 85th anniversary of the founding of its million-person strong Korean People's Army. On the same day, a U.S. guided-missile submarine docked in South Korea. And the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier is also headed toward the peninsula for a joint exercise with South Korea.

The moves to set up THAAD within this year have angered not only North Korea, but also China, the country that the Trump administration hopes to work with to rid the North of nuclear weapons. China, which has grown increasingly frustrated with its ally Pyongyang, and Russia see the system's powerful radars as a security threat.


I consider having to deploy 8,000 police officers to deter possible protestors as a strong sign of just how unpopular a move it is for the THAAD system to be installed.  North Korea is rattling its sabers, the US is moving assets in, China is both alarmed and trying to be helpful at the same time, probably preferring to let a sleeping dog lie.

This is an incredibly volatile moment, especially considering that Kim Jong Un has been anything but rational his entire life. So, again, we have to ask: Why now? Why has beating North Korea into submission become such a sudden national priority?

Before address that, it bears repeating that most of what passes for “news” in the West is actually well-crafted talking points put out by self-interested people who have discovered a fantastic way to remain in power and accumulate wealth. Read more about this in our prior report:  We Are Being Played.

Well, that's true at least as long as we consent to follow along and dutifully remain ignorant of these tricks of persuasion by propaganda. There’s really no good excuse for being fooled, except mental laziness.  The tricks of this trade are neither subtle nor difficult to spot.

Meanwhile, the actual things that are deteriorating alarmingly are not even talked about -- ever -- in the main news outfits.  Alarming species extinction rates, the loss of phytoplankton in the oceans, the loss of terrestrial soil fertility into oceanic dead zones, and the largest wealth gap in all of history created on purpose by central banks -- very real crises like this are nearly completely ignored.

These are all very dangerous to our future, but they aren't talked about because doing so won't sell more weapons. Nor will it advance any political careers, or goose banking profits next quarter.

So for a system that demands continuous conflict in order to function, to manufacture a new war you need a good sales agent, and none are so closely tied to that racket than the New York Times.  Here they are recently using the same dumb tricks that worked the last time, and the time before that…and so on:

NYT’s ‘Impossible to Verify’ North Korea Nuke Claim Spreads Unchecked by Media

Apr 26, 2017

Buoyed by a total of 18 speculative verb forms—five “mays,” eight “woulds” and five “coulds”—New York Times reporters David E. Sanger and William J. Broad (4/24/17) painted a dire picture of a Trump administration forced to react to the growing and impending doom of North Korea nuclear weapons.

“As North Korea Speeds Its Nuclear Program, US Fears Time Will Run Out” opens by breathlessly establishing the stakes and the limited time for the US to “deal with” the North Korean nuclear “crisis”:

Behind the Trump administration’s sudden urgency in dealing with the North Korean nuclear crisis lies a stark calculus: A growing body of expert studies and classified intelligence reports that conclude the country is capable of producing a nuclear bomb every six or seven weeks.

That acceleration in pace—impossible to verify until experts get beyond the limited access to North Korean facilities that ended years ago—explains why President Trump and his aides fear they are running out of time.

The front-page summary was even more harrowing, with the editors asserting there’s “dwindling time” for “US action” to stop North Korea from assembling hundreds of nukes:


Unverifiable “evidence,” anonymous sources, and the broad appeal of “many experts.”  Sound familiar?  It should, it’s the exact same playbook used by the war machine to bomb and invade Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and, someday soon, Iran and Russia.

It brings to mind this quote by Arundhati Roy:


As a reminder, Trump campaigned on a peace platform. So this sudden belligerence has to be coming form some heavy internal pressure; or he’s simply flip-flopped (or wasn’t honest) on a very important matter.

He’s done so much flip-flopping that this tweet struck me as funny:

very powerful armada” to the coast of the DPRK.  Powerful as this armada might be, it can do absolutely nothing to prevent the DPRK artillery from smashing Seoul into smithereens.  You think that I am exaggerating?  Business Insider estimated in 2010 that it would take the DPRK 2 hours to completely obliterate Seoul. Why?  Because the DPRK has enough artillery pieces to fire 500,000 rounds of artillery on Seoul in the first hour of a conflict, that’s why.  Here we are talking about old fashioned, conventional, artillery pieces. Wikipedia says that the DPRK has 8,600 artillery pieces and 4,800 multiple rocket launcher systems.  Two days ago a Russian expert said that the real figure was just under 20,000 artillery pieces. Whatever the exact figure, suffice to say that it is “a lot”.

The DPRK also has some more modern but equally dangerous capabilities. Of special importance here are the roughly 200’000 North Korean special forces. Oh sure, these 200,000 are not US Green Beret or Russian Spetsnaz, but they are adequate for their task: to operate deep behind enemy lies and create chaos and destroy key objectives. You tell me – what can the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group deploy against these well hidden and dispersed 10’000+ artillery pieces and 200,000 special forces? Exactly, nothing at all.


Clearly that’s a very unsettling prospect for South Korea. Just imagine a favorite major city of yours with a completely unstable leader within artillery range just to its immediate north.  It’s a frightening prospect.

Again, I cannot find a single credible reason for Why now?. And so, we have to simply speculate.

Possible reasons range from an itchy military industrial complex that is disappointed that it cannot seem to goad the US into war with Russia and North Korea just happened to be next on the list, to the idea that Trump is really seeking trade deal concessions from South Korea and is using the North Korean situation as leverage.

The latter is not out of the realm of the possible, with Trump having said he wants South Korea to pay for the THAAD system being installed and that he wants to renegotiate our balance of trade with them, too. 

Who says stuff like that at a time when war might break out?  Someone who doesn’t really appreciate the gravity of the situation, I'd suggest. I mean, if it’s a negotiating tactic, it’s one that could end up with a lot of people losing their lives and a ruined economy. If it’s a negotiating tactic stapled to a crisis, it’s still an odd thing.


Tensions with North Korea are about as tight as can be right now. And the wild card is the apparent instability of Kin Jong Un.  Who knows what he might do?

Any equally-perplexing mystery, which for now I'll have to file under “central banks control the markets” is why the KOSPI (South Korea's stock index) is up so much on the outbreak of these very serious tensions?

Either the central banks are propping it up here to keep the masses calm, or the central banks are to blame for pouring so much liquidity into world markets that even the risk of obliteration is insufficient cause for a stock market to go down. So take your pick: either it’s a controlled market or it’s a sign of just how outrageous the bubble mentality across the world has become.

One feature of bubbles is the inability to entertain the idea of an asset ever going down in price. So they go up; news and data be damned.

I just find it extremely strange that the South Korean stock index is powering higher through all of these tensions. It's very, very strange. Stocks are not supposed to like uncertainty. The post-French election stock buying spree was explained on that very basis: the French elections removed uncertainty and therefore stocks went up.

But now we're being forced to accept how stocks are going up as uncertainty increases.

Since it really makes no sense, other ‘reasons’ are being given. But it’s just too strange for the rational mind to believe them.  It’s just not normal; and therefore we don’t live in a normal world anymore. 

If a full shooting war breaks out with North Korea, there will be massive casualties on all sides.  To think that peace depends on Trump negotiating with Kim Jong Un is a particularly comic-book-worthy plot line. It seems absurd. But here we are. 

If you live in Seoul, you should consider getting out for a while. Take a vacation, or work remotely, and bring your family. Just for a while -- maybe a couple of weeks. 

If you can’t do that, then be sure all of your loved ones know the rally points and basement shelters that apply.  Review your basic contingency plans and then hope that they won't be required. 

Remember, any outbreak of war is going to be a very bad thing for the globe at this particular moment in history.  Debt levels are stretched to the limit, GDP is weak, and it won’t take much to upset the economic and financial market apple carts. 

For everyone else, read our report How To Prepare For War that was prepared for the possibility of a war with Russia. 

It’s not a pleasant topic, nor one I like to keep raising. But there’s a crew in charge in DC that is intent on starting wars, and they are not about to stop now. I believe they span administrations and they are very influential.

I also happen to believe that they will eventually pick a fight we all regret very much. 

So be prepared.

~ Chris Martenson

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I think that North Korea only has atomic bombs and not nuclear bombs,do you remember the proof of concept the hydrogene bomb the USA held the late 1940"s.The North Korea government used the same type of test for there bombs.

Props for the Justin Raimondo tweet! He’s always worth a read at which covers the geo-political stuff our MSM doesn’t want us noticing.

Hydrogen Bomb vs. Atomic Bomb (LiveScience)

I think that the powers that be worked up a detailed psychological profile of Trump during the campaign. They now know what buttons to push to get whatever they want. Keeping him isolated behind the neocon cult certainly helps. Does anyone remember those “small hands” comments in various “news” outlets. I guess he doesn’t want to look insignificant downstairs. I have a bigger ICBM than you. smiley

Time2help wrote:
Hydrogen Bomb vs. Atomic Bomb (LiveScience)
During WWII, US conventional bombing in Japan dwarfed the two famous Manhatten Project bombs, largely destroying 67 cities, including Tokyo and killing 500,000 Japanese. Yet, the two bombs get all the attention. The most recent numbers I ran, either 2015, or 2016, had the US dropping an average of one bomb every three minutes 24/7. Yet we are talking about going to war with another small country because they might use a bomb in the future?! There is definitely something wrong with this picture. Perhaps, to grow the US economy, we have to grow the manufacture and consumption of bombs?

The most recent UN security council meeting was, in a word, a disaster. Sharp divisions are now apparent between the US, which wants “action” and China which wants continued negotiations. Russia also does not want to see the outbreak of overt hostilities.
So we’ve got the US demanding urgent, immediate action and everyone else seeking diplomacy.
This is Iraq all over again.
Oddly, the South Korean position and desires do not appear anywhere in any of these main articles. It’s like they don’t even exist. No quotes from the current leadership, nothing about how the people of South Korea feel or what they want. Just chirping crickets from the press.
Like I said, that’s pretty odd all on its own. I think it tells us that getting the South Korean reaction and human side of the story would mess up someone’s plans. If you are planning a war, it’s best to keep everything tilted as far away from the human element and towards the evil/demon side.

U.S. says time to act on North Korea, China says not up to Beijing alone Friday, April 28, 2017 U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned on Friday that failure to curb North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs could lead to 'catastrophic consequences,' while China and Russia rebuked Washington's threat of military force. The showdown in a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on North Korea highlighted the diplomatic challenges of resolving tensions over Pyongyang, with the Trump administration aggressively pressing Beijing to rein in its ally, and China and Russia pushing back against Washington's rhetoric. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the 15-member council it was not only up to China to solve the North Korean problem. "The key to solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula does not lie in the hands of the Chinese side," Wang told the council in blunt remarks that Tillerson later rebuffed. The ministerial meeting of the council, chaired by Tillerson, exposed old divisions between the United States and China on how to deal with North Korea. China wants talks first and action later, while the United States wants North Korea to curtail its nuclear program before such talks start. "It is necessary to put aside the debate over who should take the first step and stop arguing who is right and who is wrong," Wang told the council. "Now is the time to seriously consider resuming talks." Tillerson responded: "We will not negotiate our way back to the negotiating table with North Korea, we will not reward their violations of past resolutions, we will not reward their bad behavior with talks."
I can only imagine how China is receiving this headache and US belligerence internally. There have been plenty of signs in the past that they have not exactly been pleased with being told, like a child, what to do by the US. Remember this?
Barack Obama 'deliberately snubbed' by Chinese in chaotic arrival at G20 Sep 4, 2016 China’s leaders have been accused of delivering a calculated diplomatic snub to Barack Obama after the US president was not provided with a staircase to leave his plane during his chaotic arrival in Hangzhou before the start of the G20. Chinese authorities have rolled out the red carpet for leaders including India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, the South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, and the British prime minister, Theresa May, who touched down on Sunday morning. But the leader of the world’s largest economy, who is on his final tour of Asia, was forced to disembark from Air Force One through a little-used exit in the plane’s belly after no rolling staircase was provided when he landed in the eastern Chinese city on Saturday afternoon. When Obama did find his way on to a red carpet on the tarmac below there were heated altercations between US and Chinese officials, with one Chinese official caught on video shouting: “This is our country! This is our airport!” “The reception that President Obama and his staff got when they arrived here Saturday afternoon was bruising, even by Chinese standards,” the New York Times reported.
That really caught my eye at the time, and I wrote about it because it says, effectively, that China feels that it deserves to be treated as an equal and is tired of being lectured to and scolded into shape by the US. That was not just a minor snub, it was a full blown face-loss-ripping sessions. Further, it is not lost on the Chinese, who apparently can remember things for more than a few days, that the US really has no moral position to be talking to anybody about bargaining in good faith (see also NATO expansion towards Russia, lying about weapons of mass destruction, etc.). The point here being that China may already have a view that the US was not exactly entirely trustworthy prior to Trump and now may feel that an added element of unpredictability has been added to an already strained mix. Continuing with the Reuters article:
[Tillerson] urged the council to act before North Korea does and called on states to sever diplomatic and financial ties with Pyongyang and suspend the flow of North Korean guest workers, as well as impose bans on North Korean imports, especially coal. "Failing to act now on the most pressing security issue in the world may bring catastrophic consequences," he said. "The threat of a nuclear attack on Seoul, or Tokyo, is real, and it's only a matter of time before North Korea develops the capability to strike the U.S. mainland," Tillerson said.
Ah. So after lecturing China on what to do, they’ve finally decided that the key talking point is the threat of a nuclear bomb…a mushroom cloud that will appear over Seoul or Tokyo or Seattle. Got it. Now where have I heard that before?
Condoleezza Rice then said something that was ominous and made headlines around the world. "The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." (Source)
Well, it worked once before, so why not now, eh? The big difference between the Iraq and North Korea situations is that Iraq had no nuclear program capable of producing a bomb and NK already has bombs. But the logic now escapes me. If we know that NK already has the bomb, and we know that NK is led by a very bellicose and unstable leader, how does threatening NK accomplish anything besides create a very dangerous situation for South Korea? Meanwhile, China’s ambassador to the UN was pretty clear on China’s preferred approach given the realities I just laid out above:
Wang said dialogue and negotiations were the "only way out." "The use of force does not solve differences and will only lead to bigger disasters," he said.
Given a choice between talking and threatening, China figures talking is the better way. The US is pretty clear on the matter – bombing is the better way. And so it all finally becomes very uncertain and tenuous:
U.S. President Donald Trump told Reuters in an interview on Thursday a "major, major conflict" with North Korea was possible over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov cautioned on Friday that the use of force would be "completely unacceptable." "The combative rhetoric coupled with reckless muscle-flexing has led to a situation where the whole world seriously is now wondering whether there's going to be a war or not," he told the council. "One ill thought-out or misinterpreted step could lead to the most frightening and lamentable consequences."
That last part I bold is how I feel about the situation. Once again I find myself resonating more strongly with the statements of foreign leaders than the US political leadership. I have the feeling that there’s an entirely out of control structure in DC that seized the reigns a long time ago. They are unelected officials, working their neocon magic behind the scenes to create constant conflict which only ever serves to empower and enrich the same craven class of people. And the US news media is beholden to the same cast of characters somehow. The US is in a very bad way and will not be able to correct its path until or unless a disaster strikes as a result of its overly muscular responses to, well, … everything and everyone. War is not the answer. We desperately need a new course for humanity. One that understands that we are at a critical point in human development. It’s a time to grow into who we really can be in this world. We need more love, compassion, understanding, cooperation, listening, and understanding. With each other and with all species.

Though I’m sure the deep state uses the psychological methods you mention to manipulate the President, whoever it may be, there’s lots of evidence that their real power of the deep state lies in bribery and blackmail augmented by selective assassination. Sibel Edmonds has first hand knowledge of the blackmail operation by Bill Clinton against Congress during the impeachment proceedings. She has written extensively about it but the summary is that the FBI was used to obtain blackmail material on multiple Senators and Congressmen. It was made clear to them that should they not support Clinton they would be outed. Recall that three Congressmen resigned in scandal the week before the impeachment vote. You can find an overview of it here Some of her other articles have examined it in more detail.

So I ran across a video that had the following chart:
Each year, in April or May, the google trends chart on search frequency for the term “cold war” spikes hard, and then recedes. Its now April, heading towards May. We are now experiencing our “cold war spike.”
A friend of mine suggested it was related to (high school) curriculum, and the subject “cold war” comes up right around this same time every year because that’s where it is in the book.
But its interesting we have a geopolitical war-type event right at the peak. Or - maybe we have this sort of event so often, this is just a fortunate coincidence.

With 20,000 artillery pcs and a very large stockpile of poison gas N Korea could seriously harm the millions in S Korea. And, these ‘dud’ missiles may be a fake punch to reduce preparation by Japan or some other in range neighbor. A conventional bomb on the remnants of the Fukushima facilities would be a nuclear disaster without an atomic bomb. I’m with the Chinese and Russians for negotiations.

…a fishing trawler carrying a NorK bomb into a harbor on the West Coast is what’s more likely, IMO. Doesn’t even have to be a fissionable bomb (although that would give the most effective terror factor), just a dirty one that renders some large percent of a major city unusuable.
You say our intelligence services could track such a boat/sense the bomb – stop the boat from getting to the USA?
I reckon they probably can. If they want to.
You think they do? Are we thinking they’re trying to prevent a war?

So, say certain elements of the US Deep State found out about NK’s plan to detonate a bomb in a western US harbor as you suggest. That could be useful to know in advance.

  1. Those in the know could double or triple their insurance coverage on properties in the targeted city so as to profit from the disaster.
  2. Those in the know could short some stocks three days before the detonation to profit from certain companies’ demise: Boeing in Seattle, Wells Fargo in SF, motion picture corporations in LA, etc.
  3. Certain buildings could be pre-wired with high tech explosives to make sure they were obliterated even if the NK nuke kind of fizzled. Federal buildings containing troves of evidence in criminal investigations embarrassing for key players would get priority.
  4. Several laws could be written in advance to take advantage of the public’s fear which garner power and profit for certain elite players and the Deep State in general.
  5. A complete narrative could be written and appropriate speeches and news stories could be ready to hand to key political and media players to use after the detonation which would make the public putty in the hands of the elite. (THIS TIME, let’s be sure not to announce the collapse of any buildings before they ACTUALLY COLLAPSE!! This is no time to be trying to scoop each other. The media must be sternly warned not to announce events before they occur.)
    I think you’re on to something Sager.

There are way cheaper, more reliable delivery platforms out there than a long range ballistic missile delivery. Here’s the Russian “Club K”, IIRC this delivery system approach was part of plot in “One Second After” by William Forstchen.

The container approach was also used for delivering a swarm of hypersonic antiship missiles in John Michael Greer's "Twilight Last Gleaming". Or just set off a nuke in the shipping container in a major shipping port. Edit: Given the power structure (the real one, not the garbage we get from the media), it would not surprise in the least if there were multiples of these (or something similar in approach) already present within the countries of the major power blocks. Their usefulness in a blackmail or "defensive first strike" situation would be temptingly hard to ignore.
thc0655 wrote:
4. Several laws could be written in advance to take advantage of the public's fear which garner power and profit for certain elite players and the Deep State in general. I think you're on to something Sager.
I assume #4 is sitting in the secure file cabinets of key legislators right now. Same as PATRIOT act... I'd be thrilled to be wrong.

VIVA – Sager

If you are interested in profiting off war I suggest you listen to testimony from the heads of of 4 segments of the military.They testified on March 29th in front of the armed services commitee.The public has already been told that they need 56 billion to upgrade the military.(at the expense of throwing the most vulnerable and poor of the healthcare roles)I repeat,Do not do this…

If I had to guess, I’d say the most likely primary motive behind the military escalation and media blitz/propaganda is not to take out NK in an actual war, but mostly to spur China to step in one way or another. The neocon contingent in the Deep State is probably hoping China uses their intelligence assets in NK to engineer/encourage a coup or assassination so a less troublesome leadership emerges (perhaps Kim’s possible daughter as heir with a more compliant ‘regent’ wielding the power). The realpolitik contingent probably hopes China uses more economic and soft power leverage to weaken Kim Jong Un, stall or slow their nuke and missile programs, and gain leverage in the negotiations to follow. Trump is (or wants to be) a strongman, and threatening a showdown with NK appeals to that image. It also seems to please much of his keys to power, and I can see how he might attempt to turn this into a negotiation play a little down the road. All see a potential gain from this series of actions… so therefore, here we are! And while I don’t think the following are the primary motives, I would guess the boost (both material and public support) that this gives the defense industry and the IC (Intelligence Community) does influence, though probably not outright control, the decision.
The South Korean position is probably complicated. From what I was told by people who served over there, their military leadership tends to be aggressive and in some cases are itching for a chance to end the North Korea problem once and for all. From articles and papers I’ve read in recent years, the citizens and politicians seem to be of mixed opinions on aggressive posture to North Korea. So perhaps South Korea doesn’t have a clear consensus or position, thus the U.S. leadership (possibly with discreet support from South Korea’s military and select civilian leadership) gets to make their play. As for 8000 police showing up to deter protesters, that may either be an intimidation move to discourage dissent on this issue, or more of a basic reflex as per South Korea’s typical history of protests and heavy-handed crackdowns.
Honestly I have mixed feelings on this development. On one hand, I detest the media and gov’t trying to manipulate us (which they are clearly trying to do), think the propaganda blitz is not helping matters, and think the motives of those in charge are their own and don’t have our interests in mind. But on the other hand, unlike Syria or Iraq or Libya, I do see North Korea is a legitimate threat to the U.S., even if not an existential one (yet) as is commonly portrayed. I interpret many of their moves as being consistent with attempting to develop EMP weapons for use against the U.S. and possibly Japan, and while they likely wouldn’t attack out of the blue, I do think they’re waiting for the right time and a critical moment of weakness (whatever that might be). Now IMO that’s still not worthy of a pre-emptive strike, but it does merit some move to counter the threat. North Korea shows no favorable response or trustworthiness when it comes to most diplomatic overtures, so we can’t depend on that. So in a way I can see how a measured display of military power might be appropriate, and I don’t have much issue with having a U.S. carrier fleet and nuclear sub presence in the region for a time… provided it’s not accompanied by exercises, behavior, or excessively close proximity that could be too easily misinterpreted. The THAAD system… eh, that’s much more iffy since that would be more or less a permanent action, one that could adversely affect long-term diplomatic relations beyond the Korean Peninsula.
I’m not greatly worried that this will turn into a shooting war (at least this time). Kim Jong Un is probably more worried about internal threats removing him (and legitimately so) than the U.S. or South Korea. But one of the things I’m watching for is if the U.S. attempts to shoot any of North Korea’s missile tests aimed at the ocean. If that happens, that hints to me that the ones running things DO have a desire for a larger war, or at least are way overconfident and have wildly skewed assumptions as to the risks involved.

I agree with everything you say except the "irrationality " of Kim Jong Un. When you look at how the USA has treated countries that refused to toe the US line such as Libya and Syria Kim Jong Un is doing the only rational thing and retaining his nuclear threat.
Fortunately the truly rational world powers, China and Russia, have called for an end to the US/South Korea war games , simulating an invasion of the North and in return they will bring North Korea to heel.
These war games apparently occur at the time of the rice harvest .North Korea’s need to man the palisades as well as well as bring in the harvest are put into dilemma. Good one USA. Striving for a peaceful humanitarian world once again.

“Trade wars, currency wars, world wars. When all else fails they take you to War !”
And Howard Kuntsler nailed Kim Jong Un perfectly when said he’s the world’s real life Batman Villian.

All this is just a little too much to take. The “USA” is acting strangely? You say! Stock “markets” misbehaving, trade arrangements mixing and intermingling with vulgar war drumming. “News” outlets doubling down on their views. Trump positions on the trapeze. This all smells to much like a psychotic episode is nearby. When Russia didn’t respond to the fight invite, well someone had to fill that void. Irrationality to follow. I recommend having your contingency plans having contingency plans.

Sure seems like TPTB really want us all to focus on North Korea. Feels like a distraction. Look hear at left hand while covering the right.
What else is going on in the world right now?