U.S. President Donald Trump faces one of his toughest negotiating partners yet in the form of Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-Un. The clash of demagogues has slowly but steadily escalated, with each leader using the thinnest of euphemisms to signal their willingness to commit mass murder via nuclear weaponry. The Argus checked in with Wesleyan students, taking the campus temperature over the imminence and legitimacy of a culmination to this international pissing match.
The Argus: On a scale of one to ten, how scared are you of the North Korea ‘situation’ and the worldwide nuclear arms race, and why?
Mary Johnson ’20, Washington, D.C:
Probably three. I’m actually a little bit overwhelmed by all the scary things going on in the world right now. The hurricanes are scary, climate change is scary. With North Korea, I don’t think anyone wants a nuclear war because we would all die. Part of me feels like it’s so ridiculous that it could never actually happen, so I’m not really worried about it at the time.
Tsubomi Yamamoto ’21, Minoh, Japan:
Eight, because North Korea launched a missile last month. It flew over the northern part of Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean. I think the possibility of North Korean missiles attacking Japan is low, but it is not zero percent.
Josh Rode ’19, Shelburne Falls, Mass.:
I’d say like a three out of ten. I think the likelihood of anything happening in the near future is slim, but I could also see the potential threat hanging around for a long time. So definitely more than 1, but for the most part, I’m not too worried.
Eiji Frey ’20, Hampden, Maine:
I would say a solid ten because if North Korea decides to shoot nukes, we have systems in place to defend against nuclear attacks; but what would happen after we retaliate? Then their allies attack us and our allies will retaliate, and it’s just going to be a nuclear war that sucks for everyone.
Charlotte Pitts ’18, Woodstock, N.H.:
Like, a 9.8. I am terrified of the possibility of a nuclear strike, and for the friends and family that I have living in urban centers that they may target.
Rachele Merliss ’19, Lincoln, Neb.:
Five. It seems like things are going so badly and unpredictably that it feels like an actual war could start. Yet at the same time, that just seems so distant and really impossible.
Riley Hawkins-Hecock ’19, Lynden, Wash.:
Two. Though tensions have obviously risen on both sides, and Trump is prone to inflammatory statements, I highly doubt that in the coming years the world will face a nuclear war. As we have, by far, the largest and most advanced military in the world, I think it is safe to assume that other nations–North Korea included–are wary and deferential to our power. Also, it is at least well known in most political spheres–even in the Trump camp–that unleashing nuclear destruction upon another country would create catastrophic and unforeseen consequences, both in relation to foreign politics and the possibility of retaliation. As with instances in the past involving nuclear tension, I presume a defusing of the situation will be the eventual outcome, and possibly ground warfare. I simply highly doubt that all of the forces at play, because it is not just Trump and Kim Jong-un making decisions, will allow nuclear warfare to occur.
Alvin Wang ’21, Taipei, Taiwan:
I would rate a six on the scale, which is higher than before Trump became involved. I believe that the current regime in North Korea is not sustainable, and it also doesn’t pose an imminent threat to other countries. The anti-West propaganda in North Korea is just a tool used by the government to exert authority and control over its citizens. Trump has escalated the situation, but I am not too worried because there are still some rational people running the government, and war is never desirable.
Chip Kass ’18, Chicago, Ill.:
I’d say 5. More scared for them than for me. Y’know?
Alea Laidlaw ’20, Boston, Mass.:
I would say maybe a four, just because I think that there’s a lot of people that are on the ground working on the issue both in America and over there. I think it’s isolating to think of them as just an enemy force.
Bisa McDuffie-Thurmond ’19, Brooklyn, N.Y.:
One, because I stopped watching the news and have no idea what the North Korea ‘situation’ is.
Editor’s note: These responses were collected before Monday’s news of new UN sanctions.