The Memo Could Trump’s hard line work on North Korea

2 months ago
Trump Breaking News Network - The Memo Could Trump's hard line work on North Korea President Trump's allies are robustly defending his rhetoric on North ...

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The Memo Could Trump�s hard line work on
North Korea
BY NIALL STANAGE
President Trump�s allies are robustly defending
his rhetoric on North Korea, despite the criticism
his words have drawn from other quarters.
The administration�s view is that Trump�s
hard line had paid dividends even before he
threatened Pyongyang with �fire and fury�
on Tuesday.
Supporters argue it may continue to do so,
in part by ratcheting up pressure on China
to rein in its ally.
The Trump camp highlights last weekend�s
unanimous vote by the United Nations Security
Council, in which China and Russia joined
the United States and others in imposing the
most arduous sanctions yet on North Korea.
The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley,
described those sanctions as �a gut punch
to North Korea� during a Fox News interview
on Monday.
Pyongyang intensified the war of words on
Wednesday, however.
According to The Associated Press, the North
Korean military called Trump's threat a "load
of nonsense" and said that "only absolute
force" would work on Trump.
But Walid Phares, a former foreign policy
adviser to Trump�s presidential campaign,
argued that �what most impresses the North
Korean regime politically is a united U.N.
Security Council position and joint actions
by the international community to isolate
Pyongyang.
The last [U.N.] resolution � against North
Korea is the kind of development that would
push the dictatorship to slow down its activities.�
Phares added that �a second deterrent is
when China takes measures from its side, because
it signals that the only real lifeline for
North Korea's economy could be cut.�
On Wednesday, amid heightened tensions on
the Korean Peninsula and a North Korean threat
against Guam, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
offered a solid endorsement of Trump�s approach.
�What the president is doing is sending
a strong message to North Korea in language
that [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un can
understand, because he doesn�t seem to understand
diplomatic language,� Tillerson told reporters.
Tillerson described the administration�s
overall strategy as a "pressure campaign,�
a phrase that State Department spokeswoman
Heather Nauert repeated during a media briefing
later in the day.
The basic thrust of that campaign, in the
minds of Team Trump, is to pressure China
by raising the specter of instability in the
region unless North Korea curbs its nuclear
program.
The prospect of such instability would concern
China because it would call its No. 1 goal
� maintaining its economic expansion � into
question.
Even some Republicans who have at times been
critical of Trump seemed to endorse that approach.
�China should have two options,� Sen.
Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told "CBS This Morning�
on Wednesday.
�Deal with the nut job in your backyard
or realize there will be a war in your backyard.�
Independent experts who are broadly sympathetic
to Trump�s approach argue that his rhetoric
provides an important measure of clarity � even
as critics worry that it is raising the temperature
to a dangerous level.
�No matter who you are, you understand the
president means business in North Korea,�
said Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies
at the Center for the National Interest, a
think tank established by former President
Richard Nixon.
�The dictator in Pyongyang knows he means
business as well.
There is no mistaking what he is talking about
here.�
Others noted that the more modulated approaches
favored by other recent presidents have not
proven successful.
Then-President Bill Clinton in 1994 concluded
a deal that pledged $4 billion in energy aid
to North Korea in return for a promise to
slow and eventually dismantle its nuclear
program.
During President Barack Obama�s two terms
in the White House, he adopted an approach
known as �strategic patience.�
Despite these efforts, and others by former
President George W. Bush�s administration,
Pyongyang has carried out five nuclear tests
since 2006.
Last month alone, it twice tested intercontinental
ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Earlier this week, a leaked U.S. intelligence
assessment suggested that North Korea had
achieved �miniaturization� � the process
by which nuclear warheads small enough to
be carried by ICBMs are made.
�The professional military believe we�re
at a turning point,� conservative broadcaster
Hugh Hewitt said, citing recent remarks by
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford,
Army chief of staff Mark Milley and national
security adviser H.R. McMaster.
McMaster told Hewitt on his MSNBC show on
Saturday that a situation in which North Korea
could menace the United States with a nuclear
weapon was �intolerable from the president�s
perspective.�
Trump, Hewitt told The Hill, �used very
blunt and provocative language, which is very
different from the language used by President
Obama, Bush or Clinton.
But their language didn�t accomplish anything.�
There are plenty of people who fear that Trump�s
language could accomplish all the wrong things,
however.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) described the
president�s remarks as �bombastic� on
Wednesday, the same word that Sen. Dianne
Feinstein (D-Calif.) used the previous day.
Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) told a
radio station in Arizona Tuesday that Trump
appeared to be making threats that he could
not follow through on and was increasing the
chances of a �serious confrontation� by
doing so.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom
Perez went further Wednesday, attacking Trump
for �recklessly live-tweeting threats of
nuclear war from his private golf course.�
Others took a more nuanced view.
Former Ambassador Christopher Hill said that
Trump�s approach was �obviously not presidential
and very concerning coming so soon after [the]
appointment of an adult as chief of staff�
� a reference to John Kelly, who has recently
replaced Reince Priebus in the White House.
Hill, who served as ambassador to South Korea
under Bush and has participated in North Korea
nuclear negotiations, added that the �focus
needs to be on North Koreans,� not Trump�s
tone.
Communicating via text while traveling in
Eastern Europe, Hill emphasized that the �basic
problem is that the [North Koreans] won�t
give up nukes.
We need to work with � not outsource to
� Chinese and reassure allies South Korea
and Japan.�
But there is no sign of the administration
backing down from its position.
Defense Secretary James Mattis issued another
warning to North Korea on Wednesday.
Pyongyang, he said, �should cease any consideration
of actions that would lead to the end of its
regime and the destruction of its people.�
The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage,
primarily focused
on Donald Trump�s presidency.