Issues Under Fire: What If North Korea Don’t Back Down, Then What?
One has to wonder whether Donald Trump was properly briefed on North Korea. Did he take the time to understand the country, the culture, the history or its leader, Kim Jong-un? Granted, North Korea isn’t the easiest nation to get to know, but one would think a few hours of intensive study would have tempered Trump’s initial efforts to persuade Pyongyang to stand down. Had he done his home work, Donald Trump wouldn’t have found himself in a fight with a guy who can’t be intimidated. So the question is clear – now what?
Since the war of words began between the Trump administration and Kim Jong-un, the United States have sent very strong messages to the North Koreans by striking Syrian targets with tomahawk missiles and dropping the mother of all bombs on targets in Afghanistan. Those messages were meant to get Kim Jong-un’s attention. Those messages were meant to say the United States is running out of patience. Those messages were meant to say, you could be next. And although Kim Jong-un got all those messages loudly and clearly, he just wasn’t moved.
Kim Jong-un held a parade and showed off his own big missiles. I know, I saw them on T.V. with the rest of the world. The South Koreans were especially interested. The South Koreans were especially concerned. The North Koreans were especially proud and didn’t seem particularly worried. If they were, they didn’t show it, because Kim Jong-un then promptly test fired more of his missiles in defiance of U.S. demands. In fact, the North Koreans have conducted more mid and long range ballistic missile tests since Donald Trump took office than any preceding U.S. presidency. No, this guy isn’t exactly pissing his pants.
In the face of a nuclear armed armada participating in war games off its shores and the U.S.’ deployment of THADD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense), a missile defense system designed to terminate North Korean missile attacks before they can impact intended targets, neither has detered Kim Jong-un’s dream of possessing a world class arsenal of nuclear weapons. Even the threat of crippling economic sanctions and pressure from regional neighbors have done little to change the North Korean mindset. For North Korea, nuclear arms is about more than just national defense. To North Korea, nuclear arms is also about national pride. And national pride won’t be negotiated.
Donald Trump may fancy himself the Master Negotiator or the Deal-Maker-in-Chief, but a cagey bargainer would have tried engaging in direct dialog first. Using gunboat diplomacy as a first and only option was a critical error. Through dialogue, the Trump administration would have learned gunboat diplomacy wouldn’t work any more than economic sanctions or pressures from regional neighbors.
Bottom line: Donald Trump has backed himself into a corner. He has no other options but to launch a preemptive strike and start a war or be seen as all bark and no bite. Now that Trump has raised tensions to their current levels, somebody has to back down and lose face. And who do you think that’ll be, Donald Trump or Kim Jong-un? Scary, huh? Podcast below.