NOTE: I’m a day late with the Forum this week because we’ve been having difficulty with the WoW! server over the weekend. We’re catching up.
Every week on Monday, the WoW! community and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week’s question: What Do you think of Trump’s handling Of North Korea?
Don Surber: The United Nations (at our urging) has been at war with North Korea since 1950. This is a sign of failure by the politicians. Enter the amateur, Trump, to cut a deal.
China is using North Korea as a cudgel to beat us with over trade. China will rein in North Korea for a price. China – through North Korea — is aiding Iran in building its bomb.
The American elite are cool with this. But the American people are not.
Trump had Chairman Xi in for a meal at Mar a Lago in April. Between courses of the meal, he matter of factly bombed Syria.
Thus, China knows he’s no pushover. Look for Trump to prevail where the politicians could not.
Rob Miller: President Trump was left to deal with a great many problems created by his predecessor, especially when it comes to foreign policy and national security. North Korea is only one of them. One of the things about this that makes me really angry is the way the press, particularly the WAPO has exploited this situation, misrepresenting it as a brand new development (perhaps to get the bogus Trump Russia story off the front pages for awhile). The intelligence showing that the Norks had warheads small enough to fit on their ICBMs was first received by the White House in 2013, when a certain Barack Hussein Obama was president. He ignored it in favor of cranking out a few more vacations, improving his golf game, giving Iran a clear path to nuclear weapons on the American people’s dime and weaponizing US intel against his political enemies.
The rhetoric that has the press wetting their footy pajamas, as well as Rex Tillerson and General Mattis’s more measured language aren’t addressed to Kim Jong-un. They’re addressed to China, and are classic ‘good cop/bad cop.’
China created the Kim regime with the idea of having an aggressive pitbull on its borders they would control as a border guard and most importantly, as a distraction for the US when needed. They probably laughed and shook their heads in disbelief when Bill Clinton actually ended up financing North Korea’s nuclear program with money that was supposed to bribe them to end it! And the Russians, seeing how well it worked with China decided to do it themselves with Iran. Especially since Iran and North Korea were already trading illegal nuclear technology.
What the Chinese want is quiet and a return to the status quo. That’s exactly why they voted for the increased sanctions in the UN instead of vetoing them as a gesture, especially since they could always violate the sanctions anyway later if they need to.
What the President is telling them in no uncertain terms is that this scenario is inadequate, and if the Chinese don’t put this vicious junkyard dog to sleep, America will. An unsaid aside is that China’s economy being as vulnerable and intertwined with America’s as it is, both parties know that the China can’t afford a war, especially over Kim Jong-on
The central issue here is quite a simple one. Kim Jong-Un, is a rogue actor like the Iranian regime. Both have dangerous toys they only were able to obtain because of three weak and dysfunctional presidents who allowed this to metastasize on their watch. Both regimes would happily sell nuclear weaponry to terrorist groups and the world’s bad actors without a qualm. Any solution that would allow them to hang on to nuclear weapons is no solution at all.
The short answer? President Trump, so far, is doing exactly what he should be doing in my opinion.
Patrick O’Hannigan: I don’t have a standard against which to measure President Trump’s handling of the situation in North Korea, but as a general rule, I think it’s better and more effective than the breathless reporting of crisis might suggest. Trump has talked tougher than Deep State operatives prefer, as Don Surber alluded to in his own answer to this question. Most of the U.S. media seems bent on a reporting ethos that amounts to “Let’s you and him fight,” and one side effect of that attitude is that it makes both Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump seem like a pair of crazies who deserve each other. That clumsy attempt at moral equivalence won’t withstand even a moment’s worth of fair-minded scrutiny, not least because Donald Trump, despite his outsize ego, was not raised to believe in his own divinity, whereas Kim Jong-un was. It’s also worth remembering that missile programs don’t bear fruit overnight, and Kim Jong-un has run North Korea since 2011.
All I have to back my own opinion is anecdotal evidence. But a caller to a local talk show early this week mentioned that his wife and daughter are both in South Korea, and they’ve told him that the South Korean press is not sounding apocalyptic. A local (North Carolina) TV station also carried network footage of an interview with some residents of Guam, including its governor, and found that Guamanians allegedly in the crosshairs of North Korean missiles do not seem to blame President Trump for “escalating tensions.” It’s only hard-left ideologues and “Status Quovians” who fault our president for what’s going on, deliberately forgetting what Barack Obama and Bill Clinton before him did to make the North Korean regime think it would only ever face sanctions from the United Nations. President Trump’s words (and simultaneous outreach to China) have at least as good a chance of curbing “Nork” saber-rattling as anything we’ve tried before.
Mike McDaniel: In any discussion of North Korea we have to keep in mind we have been at war with them for the last 64 years. The Korean War never ended, and we’ve been proceeding, haphazardly, under an armistice ever since, an armistice the North Koreans declared nullified in 2013. During those 64 years, we have honored the terms of the armistice. North Korea has not.
Some would suggest the armistice has been a success in that it has deterred a hot, all-out-hostilities shooting war. By that limited measure, deterrence has worked, but it was based on three legs of a very wobbly stool: (1) We have been willing to accept unlimited covert and overt acts of war by the Norks, including: kidnapping, espionage, the murder of our, and our ally’s, soldiers and citizens, ransom schemes, counterfeiting, drug dealing, arms sales to terrorists and terror states, cybercrime, sinking of ships and the more or less constant shelling by artillery of other military and civilian assets. (2) The idea that deterrence works as long as the Norks have only conventional weapons, and old and rapidly aging conventional weapons at that. (3) Our willingness to do anything to avoid a hot war, including: allowing all of the acts of war mentioned in #1 with no meaningful reprisals, giving the Norks diplomatic cover for their aggressions, allowing them to build a vast communist gulag where their citizens are reduced to eating grass and tree bark for mere survival, and providing the Nork regime with the food, fuel, and money necessary to survive.
But we’ve imposed sanctions! Not enough, not of sufficient ferocity, and we’ve consistently mitigated any effects of sanctions by giving North Korea the goods and cash it needed to laugh at our sanctions. And now, our decades of appeasement and handing over billions have produced nuclear weapons, weapons we paid for. The North Koreans have proved, for 64 years, they cannot be deterred. With nukes in hand, the idea of deterrence is a dangerous, sick joke.
In Donald Trump we have a canny negotiator, and a man utterly result oriented. He determines what he wants, and does what is necessary to get it. His rhetoric is a refreshing change from the mealy-mouthed platitudes of Barack Obama. However, the danger is greater than most realize.
Ballistic missiles and gravity bombs are not the only way to deliver a nuclear weapon. Even a large, clumsy, WWII-tech weapon can be easily, covertly transported in a truck or ship, a danger we are not remotely prepared to defend against. There is every reason to believe they also have EMP weapons and are equally willing to use them. They are no less dangerous than nuclear weapons. In addition, the North Koreans have close ties with Iran and other terrorist states and organizations. They will sell them weapons of mass destruction. I’m sure, particularly with General Mattis as an advisor, Mr. Trump is aware of this, and of far more blood-curdling intelligence than we know.
Appeasement never worked, and it is now profoundly dangerous and unacceptable. All of our kicking the can down the road has brought us to the status quo. We have a simple choice: take out North Korea, or be willing to allow them to use nuclear weapons at times and places of their choosing. President Trump is willing to make that kind of hard choice, and the American public is behind him. The AINO press, Democrats and self-imagined elites never will be. One should never make the mistake of thinking they speak for anyone but themselves.
War is terrible, but there are worse things. Peace is not merely the absence of overt military conflict. Donald Trump understands this too. I pray when the time comes, Barack Obama has not so enervated our military we’ll suffer far more casualties than necessary.
Laura Rambeau Lee: The American policy towards North Korea has been one of “strategic patience” for decades, which brings us to the threat we face today. Reports are that Kim Jong Un has up to sixty nuclear weapons and now has the capability to launch long range missiles possibly containing miniaturized nukes which could hit our allies and even our west coast. He is threatening to launch four missiles to hit within twenty miles off the coast of Guam this week. What we have been doing has not worked and has only emboldened Kim Jong Un. His bullying and saber rattling is escalating. President Trump is meeting Kim Jong Un’s words with the same tough language. He must understand this new administration will be tougher than previous ones. He has seen that President Trump is willing to strike if necessary to send a message as he did with Syria in April after Bashar al-Assad launched a nerve gas attack on the rebel held town of Khan Sheikhoun.
We know for sure our policies in the past have not worked. We will soon see what happens with President Trump’s approach and if Kim Jong Un backs down on his threats. Dear Leader is crazy but I doubt he is suicidal.
Well, there it is!
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