Opinion: Weakened allies and unchecked escalation

OPINION: Mikaela Mahony is a reporter for Fairfax Media in north-west Sydney.

OPINION: Mikaela Mahony is a reporter for Fairfax Media in north-west Sydney.

North Korea is flying rockets over Japan; it claims to have mounted a hydrogen bomb on to an inter-continental ballistic missile and it may have conducted a sixth nuclear test.

The threat of an attack from North Korea feels like the first tangible threat of my generation to Australia.

There is a part of me that gets on with my day-to-day life  – and a part of me that is terrified of a nuclear war. The North Korean Taepodong 2 weapon of mass destruction has the ability to travel 6000 kilometres –that’s enough to hit Darwin. 

I was born in the 1990s, so I have only lived through the civil war in Afghanistan and the war on terror against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. And while Australian soldiers have been involved, I have never felt a direct threat to my own life. But I do now.

The Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union never engaged directly in full-scale armed combat. This time it feels less ‘cold’ as North Korea continue to threaten with their ‘testing’. 

It was suggested by a friend following the US and South Korean retaliation on the North Korean border, that the real fear for us in Australia isn’t North Korea’s ability to hit the US with a nuclear weapon. It’s the very real possibility of weakened allies and unchecked escalation in the Korean peninsula that could spiral out of control. 

If [President Donald] Trump initiates military action, will North Korea retaliate by hitting South Korea destabilising the area?

If North Korea attacked Seoul or Tokyo, would the US retaliate hitting North Korea knowing a counter-retaliation would hit the US? Is Trump willing to sacrifice Alaska, Hawaii or Guam for Tokyo?

What frightens me is the way Kim Jong-un continues to act recklessly without consequences. The way I see this escalating is North Korea acting more recklessly by perhaps sinking a South Korean naval vessel or creating trouble in a demilitarised zone. 

We think about terrorism as a day-to-day threat. Now it seems a nuclear war could also occur at anytime.