How the U.S. should handle North Korea's threats

Pyongyang declares a "state of war," and the U.S. beefs up missile defenses. Is that the wisest response?

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un
(Image credit: REUTERS/KCNA)

North Korean leaders took their belligerent rhetoric to a new level over the weekend, declaring a "state of war" with South Korea and calling the U.S. mainland a "boiled pumpkin" vulnerable to attack. North Korea, under its untested young leader Kim Jong Un, has stepped up its threats in recent weeks in the face of increased sanctions for its recent nuclear and missile tests. The communist regime's leaders said on Sunday that they would never negotiate away their nuclear program, calling it "the nation's life." With tensions rising, the U.S. is sending stealth fighter jets to South Korea for joint military exercises meant to be a show of strength by the two allies, both of which are in Pyongyang's crosshairs.

The Hermit Kingdom is infamous for making outrageous threats, but some analysts say this time the U.S. really needs to prepare for the possibility of war. The Obama administration has already flown stealth war planes to South Korea, beefed up its missile defenses on America's Pacific Coast, and conducted drills with South Korea, where 30,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed. We need to do more, Ed Gillespie, former senior adviser to the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, tells CNN.

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Harold Maass, The Week US

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at The Week. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 debut of the U.S. print edition and served as editor of when it launched in 2008. Harold started his career as a newspaper reporter in South Florida and Haiti. He has previously worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, ABC News and Fox News, and for several years wrote a daily roundup of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance.