The United States sent two nuclear-capable B-2 bombers to the Korean Peninsula yesterday in response to North Korea shutting down the military hotline with South Korea on Wednesday. Today, North Korea responded by announcing it was preparing a missile strike plan against the United States. A photo (at right) released by the North Korean newspaper Rodang appears to identify Washington, DC, California, Austin, Texas and Hawaii as targets. Leon Panetta, then the U.S. Secretary of Defense, said last April that America was "within an inch of war" with North Korea and had to be careful about what it says and does that might escalate the situation. Tensions have been rising since North Korea's latest round of missile tests began last December. Earlier this month the totalitarian regime declared the Korean War armistice signed nearly sixty years ago null and void, something it had most recently done in 2009, and six times since 1994.
The White House, for its part, responded today by saying the U.S. would not be intimidated and can defend itself and its allies. However, as Ron Paul noted earlier this week, some U.S. actions, like the public military exercises and the push at the UN for new sanctions are helping exacerbate the situation. North Korea has just one real ally on the planet, China, and even that is barely so. Its reactions to tension over the last few months have been to tell North Korea, or North Korea and South Korea, as the case may be, to simmer down. Russia's foreign minister, meanwhile, warned today of a "vicious circle" that could spiral out of control. That's highly unlikely. Instead, North Korea's saber-rattling, and the Western response to it, fulfills the need Kim Jong Un has for attention and for an external enemy to use as a scapegoat for the self-inflicted decades-long tragedy that is North Korean society.