BOSTON (CBS) – Even if you missed President Trump’s address to the United Nations Tuesday, by now you’ve likely heard about the headline, a threat he made to the despotic regime of North Korea amid a ramping up of their military arsenal and saber-rattling.
“The U.S. has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said.
What does that really mean? Perhaps less than meets the eye. The president is prone to hyperbole.
But it’s always instructive when we talk about war to remind ourselves of what war is, not on paper but in real life.
So let’s take a moment to assess what the “total destruction” of North Korea really means.
If the country’s entire population of 25 million people were wiped out, that would be equal to the populations of Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, San Francisco, Dallas, Phoenix, San Diego, Charlotte, and Providence, Rhode Island.
Or think of it this way – it would be the same as annihilating the entire population of the six New England states, with North Carolina thrown in for good measure.
It would also have painful economic consequences, especially the collateral damage to South Korea, where economists estimate the impact could be far worse than the double-digit damage to manufacturing caused by the devastating 2011 floods in Thailand.
And remember, we’re not the only country with nukes.
If we use them on North Korea, might others be emboldened to use theirs?
You know the old saying – war is hell. That’s wisdom worth remembering.