How is Trump going to handle North Korea’s successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching Alaska? He’s considering “some pretty severe things” in response to Kim Jong-un’s “very, very bad behavior.” What those severe things are, of course, depends on how much success the President has in drumming up support for a diplomatic solution to deteriorating relations on the Korean peninsula. He’ll no doubt be talking to other world leaders about the possibilities at this week’s G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.
That summit includes a face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin, who has already indicated he’s not particularly interested in further sanctioning North Korea. Nor is China, much to Trump’s woe, which he expressed on Twitter earlier this week. Which all adds up to a balance of power concerningly similar to the outset of the Korean war. You know, the last time that things were tense with Russia at the same time China was feeling expansionist, and everyone had an interest in the Korean peninsula at a time of intense global nationalism.
Considering China’s increased militarization of the South China Sea and growing opposition to the U.S. military presence in South Korea, it seems unlikely that the United States will find much help if their goals don’t align with Beijing’s murky ambitions. China has stated it would prefer to loosen sanctions and build good will with North Korea, in exchange for an opportunity to soothe Kim Jong-un into avoiding any further nuclear developments. Russia is in an more aggressive mood, given its activities in the Ukraine and Crimea — not to mention its meddling in the U.S. presidential election — and hasn’t seemed to change its position on North Korea much since the 1950s.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley discussed with an emergency gathering of the U.N. Security Council that time is running out for the “possibility of a diplomatic solution” and that “one of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces. But if United Nations member countries can’t agree on a workable solution, that might leave the U.S. alone, or with limited support, in its attempts to quell Kim Jong-un with military force. “We will use them if we must, but we prefer not to have to go in that direction,” explained Haley.
Which gets us back to those “pretty severe things” Trump is planning. So far all we’ve gotten are vague statements like, “something will have to be done about it.” That’s what the President said of North Korea during a busy visit to Warsaw. Poland and Trump’s mutual interest in courting one another might be an overture to win over other members of the EU ahead of the G20, or at the very least acts as another move in the ongoing chess game with Russia. But until he wraps up negotiations in Europe, it’s hard to say what Trump’s real options will be for resolving problems in Asia.
(Via Washington Post)