One of the biggest highlights of President Joe Biden and his entire administration was how much more prepared he was than his predecessor with international affairs.
However, after 2 months in office, he is already receiving threats from North Korean with “invincible physical power” - right after his remarks about Pyongyang launching a new tactical short-range ballistic missile. Biden publicly recalled that the test violated U.N. Security Council resolutions and in a recent press conference, the White House stated that the U.S. would respond accordingly - without excluding the use of diplomacy as a mean to denuclearize the Asian dictatorship.
The North Korean government commented that the U.S. had taken a wrong first step over their latest missile test. According to a statement delivered by the official KCNA news agency, Ri Pyong Chol, secretary of the North’s ruling Worker’s Party’s Central Committee, commented on how the Biden’s statement represented an intrusion of the county’s right to self-defence: “Such remarks from the U.S. president are an undisguised encroachment on our state’s right to self-defence and provocation to it.”
This exchange begs to analyse not only Biden’s foreign relationships with other world leaders but with power nations. In the same declaration, the secretary slammed Trump’s successor for his lack of logic, as he mentioned how the U.S. was allowed to ship nuclear assets near their peninsula at any time, while they could not. As Ri Pyong Chol stated, “We clearly remember that after the appearance of the new administration in Washington, there has been exploitation of every opportunity to make words and acts provoking the sovereignty and dignity of our state in which we were branded as the most serious 'security threat.'"
According to analysts, the country tends to test new U.S. administrations to take them to the negotiating table. However, Kim Jong-un has expressed an apparent disinterest in speaking with the White House. Despite the passive-aggressive tone of the entire statement, one message is clear, Pyongyang is not playing when it comes to challenges or perceived challenges against them, not regarding who is making them.
Understanding this perspective, America needs a new frame in its foreign policy approach, especially with Asian countries, despite Biden’s several years of experience in the matter. The Oval Office occupant has precise positions; he supports close relationships with traditional European allies like the U.K. or France, he advocates NATO, he wants to push back against Russia’s aggression and he would like to work with Latin American countries to end corruption and decrease violence. While many in government support his vision; some see his experience as a disadvantage - that might be a challenge he has to overcome.
One interesting aspect is Washington’s take on the U.S.’s attention on Asia, mainly because of China and its constant growth. These positions are pretty safe, to say the least; they are convenient because they are. They are aggressive enough for the U.S. to believe minimal actions will strengthen them, align with allies and help other countries in need. They are making the nation look excellent and powerful. However, when it comes to showing a firm hand to other countries in Asia, efforts are not visible or well-received. These safe approaches will not always work, especially with leaders like Kim, who are clear about their intentions, especially regarding their defence and resources.
“The bellicose stance of the new U.S. administration awakens us to the way to be followed by us and convinces us of the justice of the work to be done by us once again. We are by no means developing weapons to draw someone’s attention or influence his policy,” Ri declared. This is interesting since the remarks made by the U.S. president were not straightforwardly accusing North Korea of any efforts of developing weapons for any purpose or draw no one’s attention. Yet, they felt the need to clarify this was not their intention.
Nevertheless, Ri finalised this statement by reminding the U.S. about their desires and final goal to strengthen their military power. On a global scale, this is concerning because North Korea is a military and Nuclear power, is willing and ready to threaten anyone: “If the U.S. continues with its thoughtless remarks without thinking of the consequences, it may be faced with something that is not good. We know very well what we must do […] We will continue to increase our most thoroughgoing and overwhelming military power” he concluded.
Since his transition to power in 2011, Kim, as reported by the New York Times, had purged more than 340 senior regime figures since late 2013, executing many of them. His methodology is more aggressive than his predecessor's, and he is ruthless; therefore, it makes him more dangerous to any nation. These tests are relevant not only to the U.S. but to the whole world. Its neighbouring country, South Korea, is also looking for U.S. assistance concerning the same tests. If even nearby nations seek support, it brings light to the fact that despite their geographical isolation and intended socio-political isolation, North Korea plans to become a world power, overtaking the U.S. or any other nation that stands in the way. This statement is a clear sign for the whole world to be aware and more arduous of North Korea and other Asian countries and their desire for power.
Written by Thairy Lantigua