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Trump: You know, Bowl Cut Jr. outwitted all my predecessors
True. So what happens now?
One thing a lot of people don't like about Donald Trump - but I do - is his willingness to point out that some people have done a pretty horrendous job when asked to deal with matters of great importance to this country. On the matter of North Korea, both the Bush and Obama administrations were either made to look like fools by the Kim dynasty or chose to punt on the matter because they weren't prepared for the possible consequences of decisive action.
That has resulted in nothing good. Today we have a petulant, irrational dictator in control of an at least in-development nuclear arsenal, firing missiles on whims and continually making threats of targeting the United States with ICBMs which may or may not be capable of delivering on his threats. In the meantime, the country is little more than a gigantic prison with primitive living conditions for those the govenrnment leaves alone, and a sadistic torture chamber for those it does not.
The situation cannot endure much longer, and Trump is correct - and probably quite strategic - when he says publicly that his predecessors got played:
The Trump administration has signaled a more forceful U.S. stance toward North Korea’s recent missile tests and threats, including a warning from Mr. Trump that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has “gotta behave.”
But as CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan reports, Mr. Trump has refused to explain his strategy, suggesting he wants to keep the North Koreans guessing, but in an interview on Monday he said all of his predecessors had been outwitted by North Korea’s ruling Kim dynasty.
“You look at different things over the years with President Obama. Everybody has been outplayed. Everybody has been outplayed and they’ve all been outplayed by this gentleman (Kim Jong Un) and we’ll see what happens,” Mr. Trump said in the interview with Fox News.
Pence struck a stern tone after arriving at a U.S. naval base in Japan from South Korea.
“We appreciate the challenging times in which the people of Japan live with increasing provocations from across the Sea of Japan,” he said. “We are with you 100 percent.”
On Monday, Pence traveled to the tense Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea, where he warned North Korea’s leaders that after years of testing the U.S. and South Korea with its nuclear ambitions, “the era of strategic patience is over.”
"Strategic patience," of course, was an Obama-era term for :"We don't want to do anything and we need to make that sound smart instead of weak." But Bush got played just as badly, following the advice of Condoleezza Rice to take North Korea off the list of terror-sponsoring nations in his final years in office in exchange for promises to behave. That was a fool's venture and ended exactly as one would expect. Kim Jong Il was just as erratic and untrustworthy as his idiot son, and probably had a bit more diplomatic moxie in manipulating western leaders who hadn't the slightest idea what to do about him.
Trump has certainly put on a greater show of force than any of his predecessors, and he's been more assertive diplomatically - both in pressuring the Chinese and in sending Mike Pence to the DMZ to reinforce the notion that the U.S. means business this time.
But do we? Trump hasn't actually said what his strategy is for dealing with the Norks, and that's fine insofar as there's value in keeping them guessing. But we don't actually know if he has one apart from sabre-rattling and signaling his disinclination to follow the lead of his predecessors. There are only so many ways to really solve the problem bloodlessly. If the goal is a nuclear-free North Korea regardless of who is in charge there, you'd need a lot more access to the country than anyone currently has to ensure compliance with nuclear nonproliferation - which is notoriously difficult to enforce on any nation, as we're finding out in Iran.
If the goal is the collapse of the Kim regime, you might be able to bring that about by withholding oil and grain shipments, but that Chinese would have to cooperate and that would make it less likely the regime's collapse is followed by the reunification of Korea, which would obviously be the most desirable outcome from an American perspective.
One thing we should know by now about Trump is that he doesn't show his cards. This leads Beltway types to shriek about his "flip-flops," but it also puts him in a stronger position to get the outcomes he really wants. The only outcome that would really make a difference in North Korea is the end of the Kim regime. More agreements to behave and end weapon programs are only going to put us on the same merry-go-round we've been riding for years with this guy and his father (and grandfather before him).
If Trump has a plan to get that done, I can't wait to see what it is.
Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!