Hong Kong (CNN)In the dog days of 2017, when it appeared North Korea and the United States were on the path to war, a debate raged in the halls of the White House.
If the US military conducted a limited series of strikes on North Korea, would it scare Kim Jong Un enough to stop the young leader’s dogged pursuit for nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles?
North Korea’s answer, at least in state media, was a resounding no. Pyongyang warned it would respond to any military action against its sovereign territory with force of its own.
“The empire of America would go to the hell and the short history of the US would end forever, the moment he destroys even a single blade of grass on this land,” a commentary in state media said in February 2018, months before Trump and Kim’s first meeting.
We’ll never know whether North Korea was serious.
In the end, President Donald Trump never ordered a strike, thanks in large part to the diplomatic efforts that led to Kim and Trump’s historic meeting in Singapore in 2018.