After President Donald Trump had offered to visit upon North KoreaFire And Fury” if it attacked the United States or her interests, Pyongyang issued the particular threat to destroy American military bases on Guam. The island, an American territory, is an important part of the defense by the United States of the Western Pacific.

Guam has been an American territory since the Spanish American War

Guam was ceded to the United States in the aftermath of the Spanish American War in 1898. The island was occupied by Japanese troops during World War II before being liberated by American military forces.

It is now a territory with 160,000 residents with the primary economy being tourism and support of American military forces.

The United States Navy maintains a base that supports a submarine squadron among other assets. The primary military target is Anderson Air Force Base that supports a force of strategic bombers that would very likely be used if war were to break out in Korea. Also, the island plays host to a significant number of Marines. Guam is defended against missile attack by a THAAD battery.

Why explicitly threaten Guam?

The question as to why North Korea explicitly threatened Guam, as opposed to a city on the American west coast, is something that has American military planners scratching their heads.

Guam is defended more that adequately from a ballistic missile attack by a system that has performed well in tests. Even an unsuccessful attack would provide the United States with a sufficient cassus belli to strike against North Korea with the same “fire and fury” that Trump has promised.

Hot Air speculates that the threat is a ploy to turn Guam’s civilian population against the American military.

That ploy does not seem to have been successful as of yet.

The purpose of North Korean strategy remains something of a mystery. The government of Pyongyang appears to be under the impression that building a nuclear arsenal and constant threats to use it will behind other countries to its will. The real world effect has been to frighten North Korea’s neighbors and the United States to contemplate a first strike that would destroy the regime not to mention upwards to a million people or more.

The answer likely resides in the psychology of Kim Jong-un and his inner circle. Kim especially seems to need to threaten everyone around him. He does not appear to realize that this behavior places him at greater risk and not less. Unfortunately, unless Kim can be neutralized in some manner, the Northern Pacific seems to be careening uncontrollably into a catastrophic war.