I don't think he's just whistling Dixie. The US Navy's Carrier Strike Group 1 is steaming (so to speak) toward the waters off North Korea. The Chinese regime has the People's Liberation Army on heightened alert and is shutting down commercial flights between Beijing and Pyongyang.
I have a theory on how things are going to go. It's just a theory. This thing may resolve back to the status quo of 1953-2017 after the usual penis length contests. But if it does burst into warfare, here's how I think it will go:
- The US will not invade North Korea with ground troops. It will instead launch a missile and air war, with any ground combat being pretty much defensive in nature along the DMZ and with a priority on making sure Seoul is neither overrun nor destroyed.
- The US forces will quickly achieve air supremacy, taking out most of North Korea's air force, air defense forces, and missile capabilities in 24-48 hours.
- Within 48-72 hours, the Korean People's Army as a whole, including ground forces, will have lost any semblance of battlefield cohesion, but probably not before executing Kim Jong Un and other key regime personnel. Kim's pleas with China to intervene on his side against the US forces will be replaced by North Korean military pleas, and US requests, for ...
- Chinese ground troops to move in as a "peacekeeping force" to "restore order," pleas/requests which will be granted. North Korea will quickly go from Chinese client state and all-around pain in the ass to de facto Chinese province, under the direct control of Beijing. It might enjoy some ceremonial autonomy, but it will no longer actually be an independent player in any meaningful sense.
I would rather none of that happened, of course. But if it's going to be war, that's how I think the war will go. I'm not discounting the possibility that the North Koreans might get off a conventional ballistic missile or two at the South or even at Japan. I doubt that they can or will detonate any atomic or nuclear weapons.