D’oh

It only gets worse for President Trump and the rest of us.

On our national holiday, North Korea demonstrated that they overcame the cyber-attacks that impacted their previous missile tests.  They also figured out how to build a missile that meets the definition of an ICBM.

They are on a fast track that will soon give them the capability of reaching the West Coast.  All that’s left is miniaturizing their nuclear weapons to fit on their missiles.

Once they have those capabilities in place, they become much more difficult to deal with.  It basically takes any preemptive military option off the table.  Any strike today only requires support from China and Russia.  Soon the US won’t be able to guarantee that such a strike would completely eliminate the ability for North Korea to respond with a nuclear missile aimed at LA.

North Korea isn’t crazy.  They know that the ability to destroy LA or Beijing is their best defense against regime change.

Russia and China just told Trump the price for their cooperation in getting North Korea to change their strategy.

It’s reducing our military presence in the region.  If we accept that bargain, we are leaving the door open for China and perhaps Russia to take our place in protecting our Asian allies.

This is the just another long term cost of electing an inexperienced President who seems to think that he can make a deal with Russia and intimidate China and North Korea with tweets.  His failure to heed the warnings that he received at the start of his Presidency may result in North Korea becoming a nuclear threat to us.  It also may weaken our ability to respond to future threats to our Asian allies.

Is this really what making American great again looks like?

2 Responses to “D’oh”

  1. Keith says:

    Those are interesting comments.
    What should President Trump have done in his first 5 months to have changed North Korea’s course?

  2. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Trump trivialized the threat of North Korea during his campaign.

    Of the more than 7,000 tweets Trump sent since he announced his candidacy, only three have used the term Korea. Trump has called Kim a “bad dude” and a “madman,” while offering to meet the despot “over a hamburger” so he could cut “a good deal.”

    North Korea responded by saying they would be happy to talk but stopping their nuclear development was nonnegotiable.

    Trump also said that Japan and South Korea should develop their own nuclear weapons if they were concerned about North Korea.

    Trump’s erratic talk has already upset East Asia’s delicate security dynamic. Calls within South Korea to go nuclear have moved from fringe to mainstream, augmented in no small part by Trump’s bluster. Should Seoul get the bomb, Japan may well follow suit. But this would be fiercely opposed by China and, of course, Kim.

    “It would be extremely dangerous and extremely destabilizing,” says Daniel Pinkston, a North Korea specialist at Troy University in Seoul. “North Korea would have an incentive to strike before they acquired that deterrent.”

    How did North Korea respond? They accelerated their missile testing.

    Finally Trump boasted that China has sufficient influence on North Korea to deter them if they really wanted to. Since then he has effectively outsourced his North Korean strategy to China. The response of the Chinese and Russians were to offer Trump a deal. If you reduce your military presence, we’ll work out a deal with North Korea. If the US backs off defending South Korea and Japan, how do you think they will respond? They will certainly reach out to either China or Russia.

    Trump successfully tests an antimissile device in February. Three days later NK successfully tests a new missile. In March NK send four missiles into the Sea of Japan and claims that they were targeting US assets in Japan. The next week our anti-missile devices arrive in South Korea. China warns that this is going to escalate tensions. Then we dispatch missile defense ships to the area where the previous NK test missiles landed. Five days later NK successfully tests a missile engine for their ICBM missile. A couple of days after that they test another missile launch which fails. March ends with the US sending F35B aircraft to Korea for the first time. The F35B is a stealth vertical take off and landing fighter bomber used by the Marines.

    In April Trump said the US was prepared to go it alone if China was unwilling to put pressure on NK. Two days later as Trump was meeting the Chinese Prime Minister, NK fired off another missile. Trump next fired missiles in Syria and sent a Naval task force to the South China sea. He said that he would counter “reckless acts of aggression” with “whatever methods the US wants to take.” NK prepared for a nuclear test and showed off new mobile and submarine-based missiles in a parade. The day after the parade there was another failed missile launch. The day after that VP Pense visited the DMZ and warned NK not to test the resolve of the US or the strength of our forces. Shortly after that the US had to admit that the naval task force was not headed to Korean waters, but would be redirected there now. April came to an end with another failed missile launch and Trump calling Kim Jung Un a “smart cookie”.

    On May 1, Trump said he would be “honored” to meet with Kim Jong Un “under the right circumstances.” Two weeks later NK launch a missile toward Russia. Two weeks later NK launched two more missiles. The second landed near Japan.

    The beginning of June NK launched four anti-ship missiles into the sea east of Korea. At the end of the month US military officials announced that they had delivered plans to Trump for a military response if NK demonstrated that they had made significant progress on a weapon that could threaten the US.

    Four days later on the 4th of July, NK successfully tested a missile capable of reaching Alaska.

    NK has called Trump’s bluff multiple times and he has failed to respond.

    IMHO NK should have been a higher priority from the start. Trump should never have walked away from the TPP because it was the best leverage we had on China. China did stop exporting coal to NK, but during the summer time that’s not nearly as much of a hardship as it might be during the winter. Trump was lazy and uninformed to think that he could just make this China’s problem. China quickly turned the tables on him. He was also naive to think that he could make a deal with Russia to back some military action in NK. He was also delusional to think that he could threaten, bully, or flatter NK into changing their course. They know that their best defense is to be able to threaten the US with a nuclear weapon, and because of Trump’s inexperience, they are going to get there.

    What he should have done is what Obama did when faced with a financial crisis unfolding in the fall of 2008. He worked closely with the Bush administration to get emergency legislation passed before he took office. If Trump had been serious, he would have done the same thing with the outgoing Obama administration. They could have evaluated military options at that point, indicated to Russia and China that they expected their cooperation and taken some meaningful action to make sure that NK paid a price economically and militarily for continuing to develop their weapons.

    Now I’m afraid that it is too late for military action and Trump simply doesn’t have the diplomatic leverage to get much done with Russia and China.

Leave a Reply