Yipping conservative hounddog Ann Coulter took to Twitter recently with a message:
Gen. Michael Hayden: N Korea will make nuke capable of hitting Seattle! Situation will be dire as soon as they can hit a city worth saving.
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) April 6, 2017
Coulter was referring, of course, to escalating tensions between the US and North Korea. Fresh off his first “successful” attack on another country, Trump, our bronzer-dusted president, has now turned his sights from Syria to North Korea, a place led by a man whose instability rivals that of our own dear leader, and who has recently launched a series of missile tests that have only made tensions between the two nations worse.
Is it time to start shopping for underground bunkers? The news is, after all, filled with dire predictions of the oncoming nuclear holocaust—and for good reason: During his 10-day tour of Asia, VP Mike Pence visited the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, and he told reporters that preemptive military action against North Korea has not been ruled out. In response, North Korea said that its military is on “high alert” and warned the US not to fuck with it.
Right now, we’ve got two unstable leaders with weird hair and daddy issues threatening each other from opposite ends of the globe, and Seattle is located right in the middle. Not only is Seattle the US city closest to North Korea, we’re also near Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Boeing, and a Trident submarine base. And the collapse of our local tech industry would devastate the US economy. Richard Ellings, president of the National Bureau of Asian Research, called Seattle the “ultimate target.” Ann Coulter might not give a fuck about losing her life—or her Amazon Prime membership—in a nuclear holocaust, but just how concerned should Seattleites be?
“I wouldn't be too worried,” says Jenny Town, assistant director of the US-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. “I think there is a possibility for some kind of military action but I don't think it's going to escalate to the point of nuclear annihilation.”
Whew! The good news for us is that North Korea doesn’t yet have the capabilities to hit us with a nuke. They are, however, working on it, and some experts think North Korea could have the technology to hit Seattle by the end of the Trump administration, assuming he manages stay in office for the whole four years.
But what's more likely than an attack on Seattle, Town says, is an attack on US military bases or on our allies in Asia in response to a preemptive strike from the Trump administration.
“It's hard to say what the Trump administration is really thinking because there's been a lot of mixed messaging,” Town says. “Trump is not a seasoned diplomat. He isn't necessarily familiar with how government is supposed to run or how military is suppose to run. He's already shown to a be a little reckless in terms of using military actions without a larger strategy or without anticipating the kind of backlash that could happen, as we saw with Syria and Afghanistan.”
While this means that those of us in Seattle won’t likely be the victims in this conflict, American troops as well as civilians in North Korea, South Korea, Japan, and elsewhere won’t be so lucky. So you can sleep peacefully tonight, Seattle, but remember there are plenty of people just like you who can’t.