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When today's historians look at the confrontation between the United States and North Korea, they're likely to hear echoes of ultimatums, bluffs and botched messages that accompanied conflicts of the past, often with catastrophic consequences.More often, as in August 1914, conflict results from a cascade of errors that produces an outcome that no one would have wanted.Would Kennedy really have gone to war if Khrushchev hadn't backed down?America advised Iraq in 1991 that unless its troops left Kuwait, the U.S. would attack.U.S. officials calculate that he has conducted more than 80 missile or bomb tests since becoming ruler in 2011, compared with just 20 under his father.Would the impulsive Kim ever be ready for negotiations with Trump? So far, he has spurned peace overtures from the U.S., answering American calls for restraint with three more tests. North Korea claims he's acting defensively, provoked by joint U.S. military exercises with South Korea last month. As history shows, the consequences of making a mistake in war are calamitous.
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