WHAT DO OTHERS SAY ABOUT NORTH KOREA?
Shortly after I posted a commentary on the North Korean missile crisis and a compendium of my prior observations on North Korea’s ambitions for past years, the nuclear capability of North Korea accelerated rapidly. For decades the Western-nation leaders, along with China and Japan, have worked to curtail the advances in war-head ballistic missiles by the rogue nation. Now North Korea is a threat to world peace despite all the economic sanctions and years of broken concessions to cease nuclear potential,
Almost overnight the situation turned critical getting attention from high places in the Trump administration. Other implicated nations, especially China, Russia and South Korea, prefer to acquiesce to avoid restarting a war with North Korea. (The cease fire of the Korean War 62 years ago was never completed with a treaty.)
The week that North Korea launched its first successful ballistic missile with a range to reach U.S. territory the world leaders were in Hamburg at the G20 Summit. The international response was indifferent while global warming, international trade agreements and refugee immigration took front row. The group left President Trump isolated, but the U.S. can’t go it alone warned The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board.
National media columnists and news commentators jumped into the missile crisis with plenty of blame to spread around. Starting with President Obama ducking the Korean threat to the Asian alliances, there was no U.S. foreign policy compatible to China on how to deal with the Kim regime.
The United Nations over several years imposed seven sanctions against North Korea. All of them were ignored. Then the South Korea government changed with a new president who prefers conciliation with his northern neighbor. Moon Jae-in does not want to rock the boat.
So what do the media commentators have to say? Here are some excerpts from a recent column by Charles Krauthammer of The Washington Post:
Five generations of U.S. administrations have kicked the Korean can down the road. We are now out of road. Getting China to do the dirty work is wishful thinking. China and Russia have dead-on-arrival proposals that merely demonstrate they want to cut America down to size by breaking the South Korean alliance.
The Associated Press reported the drafting of a resolution for new sanctions to be approved by China and three permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – Russia, Britain and France. The U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley reported that Trump prefers to use further trade clout against North Korea before resorting to military action.
Haley noted that China provides 90% of trade with North Korea. That’s why China could be doing more to curtail Kim’s ambitions but chooses to do business as usual.
Another Washington Post report revealed that the White House has few options to deal with the crisis. The best military alternatives are the ground-launched cruise missiles, a naval force standing by with training exercises in the China Sea and the anti-missile defense system being installed in South Korea.
A Bloomberg View commenter believes Kim Jong Un really won’t launch a nuclear strike because his limited arsenal could not destroy his enemies in one swoop. He is playing a defense strategy called chicken and is playing it well.
The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board confirmed that President Trump got a stony response to a global response to North Korea at the G20 summit in Hamburg. He has never grasped the concept that global issues are interrelated. It is not good diplomacy to be alternately friendly and hostile on an “a la carte” basis and expect a warm response.
Taking on heavily armed North Korea with a strategic missile strike is scary, if not terrifying, the editorial concluded.
The Economist notes that the North Korean tests are ringing bells in Washington. However, it predicts that will be several years before a nuclear device can reach Los Angeles or New York. The challenge is for America to have missile interceptors ready by then. For all of his bluster, President Trump has no good way to stop Kim from developing an ICBM.
The Asia alliance with two reluctant members, China and Russia, needs to be better coordinated for the safety of South Korea and Japan. Trump may lack the skill to deal with such diverse ideologies.