Stratfor is a geographical intelligence company that specializes in the analysis and forecasts of current events in the world. For it's forecast for current events in 2018, Stratfor stated that even though the threat of war between North Korea and America remains high, there is a less likelihood of America doing a preventative strike against North Korea. Instead, America and North Korea would engage in a "new and unstable era of containment." Containment in the current era is best described as a policy designed to prevent and isolate the aggression of North Korea within their existing boundaries. However, the "new and unstable era of containment" can quickly lead to a war.
Containment involves giving military aid to deter "the aggressor." For instance, America gives military aid to South Korea so they can protect themselves from North Korea. Containment expects the military aid to be put to good use. Thus, South Korea uses their military aid in joint military exercises with America in preparation for fighting North Korea. However, North Korea would realize that they are branded as a threat. If they are viewed as a threat, then they are more likely to take measures to protect themselves which can be interpreted as "aggressive."
Containment can lead to the "aggressor" reacting even more aggressively. For instance, North Korea responded to the military exercises with an aggressive move of the own: the missile testing. However, North Korea acted aggressively just as containment portrayed them as. Henceforth, America would be even more validated to respond with more aggression. In response to the missile testing, America rallies all the countries to agree on sanctions towards North Korea. North Korea find the sanctions threatening and respond with more missile testing. America responds back with sanctions and military exercises. Both America and North Korea are demonstrating the "us vs them" reaction. Containment perpetuates the reaction by painting North Korea as “the aggressor” which validates America’s own aggression, but America's own aggression could also validate North Korea's aggression. Already, containment puts America and North Korea in an unstable relationship. When one considers the power dynamics between both countries, the unstable relationship could go into haywire.
Containment can easily fall apart due to America’s unequal power dynamic with North Korea. America wanted to see North Korea denuclearized, even if it’s branded as an impossible goal. North Korea wanted to be recognized as a nuclear state, which is also an impossible goal. America doesn’t trust North Korea a nuclear arsenal because of its status as a rogue state. For that, America assumed that North Korea would use their nuclear arsenal for malicious purposes. North Korea obtained nukes because they feel threatened by regime change, as shown by Libya and Iraq. By obtaining nukes, North Korea would feel confident that the United States won’t attack them because of deterrence. However, the United States and North Korea are not on the same playing field.
In the international stage, America is more powerful than North Korea. America has the power to punish its opponent by inflicting sanctions and rallying countries to even approve the sanctions. North Korea, on the other hand, doesn’t have the power to do that and cannot even keep their own alliances afloat. America’s own power can make North Korea more aggressive that could lead to more missile testing. America, sooner or later, would realize that they have the power to even go beyond sanctions. They could just do the first strike so denuclearizing North Korea would be done with.
As a result, North Korea would attack back.They could load the artillery gunfire towards Seoul. Possibly, they could launch a nuke or two in a city in Japan, South Korea, or maybe even, America. America wouldn't expect this because they assumed that North Korea doesn't have the capability (it has). North Korea developed the capability through years of missile testing that are in response to the military exercises. Henceforth, America would find itself bound in a difficult yet dangerous war with North Korea that is cultivated by years of aggressive moves done under "containment." Overall, containment can lead to both countries seeing each other as the "aggressor" which can lead to them being aggressive to each other that can reach to the point of war.