Donald Trump's Plan for Bombing North Korea

By Forsyth, James | The Spectator, April 8, 2017 | Go to article overview

Donald Trump's Plan for Bombing North Korea


Forsyth, James, The Spectator


White House insiders say he is deadly serious about North Korea

On several foreign policy issues, Donald Trump has mellowed since taking office. His administration still has concerns about the Iran nuclear deal, but it is backing away from the idea of simply ripping it up or unilaterally rewriting it. On the European Union, he is calming down too; his White House no longer says Brexit marks the beginning of the end of the European project. But on North Korea his positioning is hardening. Hence his warning that 'if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will'. Not only does Trump want this problem fixed, but his National Security Council is already working on plans to do so.

Washington has been trying to work out what to do about North Korea for 20-odd years. Before September 11, the question of how to handle Pyongyang was the big foreign policy split in the Bush administration -- Colin Powell wanted to continue the Clinton regime's diplomatic approach and Dick Cheney favoured a more hawkish policy. But the focus on the Islamic world that followed pushed North Korea down the agenda. The Bush years were followed by Obama and an altogether more cautious -- overly cautious -- approach to world affairs.

Andrew J. Bacevich, General Sir Richard Barrons and Heather Williams discuss Trump's wars:

The result is that North Korea is what the West has always tried to prevent, a rogue state that almost certainly has a nuclear arsenal. At the end of the Obama administration, its Director of National Intelligence James Clapper declared that 'the notion of getting the North Koreans to denuclearise is probably a lost cause'. What makes North Korea having nuclear weapons so worrying is that it is hard to say with any certainty that Kim Jong-un is a rational actor. What makes it so urgent is that Pyongyang may soon be capable of miniaturising a warhead and placing it on an intercontinental ballistic missile. This would raise the prospect of North Korea being able to threaten the US mainland; an unacceptable state of affairs for any US president.

North Korea is an unpredictable state with far less to lose than any previous nuclear power and it could even attempt nuclear blackmail: give us billions of dollars or Los Angeles gets it.

The Trump administration is working on a two-stage approach to dealing with North Korea. First, they are clear that they regard Russia and China as patrons of the regime there. So their first step will be to challenge both Moscow and Beijing to join the effort to deal with this problem.

I understand that the message to Russia will be that if it wants to be welcomed back to the global top table, it needs to help with the North Korea issue. 'There'll be no Trump-Putin handshake until that happens,' one insider tells me.

To Beijing, Trump will say that if China wants to be more than a big economic power then it must step up and sort out this problem on its doorstep. There will be a link made between trade and this question. The more China does to reduce the threat from Pyongyang, the less inclined Trump will be to slap punitive tariffs on its goods. …

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