On thursday, President donald trump doubled down on his threat to North Korea should its leaders keep talking about an attack on the u.s. territory of guam.
We also learned thursday that a plan for the rogue state to fire four intermediate-range missiles at guam is being prepared and, according to state media, will be presented to Kim Jong un.
“Maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough,” trump told reporters, referring to his earlier “fire and fury” comments, adding that the regime had been “getting away with a tragedy that can’t be allowed.”
He’s certainly right about that. it has progressed so much and faced so few consequences. North Korea has made remarkable developments on its arsenal in a short period of time, now possessing both nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles that can hit the u.s. and Canada.
For years analysts have underestimated both its ability and intent. Now is not the time to do that. Now we have to assume the worst.
But what’s the next step? Where do go from here? the sort of business-as-usual diplomacy we’re used to hasn’t worked. sanctions are questionable, if only because the economy, with a paltry size of around $25 billion, can’t shrink much further. the people are already malnourished and living threadbare.
it’s heartening to see China, the only country that has leverage, support the latest round of sanctions. But this talking point that China is key, while true to some extent, is too rosy. it’s not like Kim will readily do its bidding. He’s no client-state dictator.
also even if he backs away from his threat against guam, he’ll still be in a position to attack such a territory on short notice should he change his mind. it’s not like anything substantial will have changed.
We used to talk about a nuclear-free North Korea. there are videos doing the rounds online of Bill Clinton saying just this during his presidency in the 1990s.
a paper released the other month by the south Korean institute for National security strategy, restates the plan for a nuclear-free north with the new president, Moon Jae-in, as its intended reader.
it’s a four-step plan. Once dialogue is normalized — right now the two Koreas don’t talk much — they get the North to agree to the following steps: (1) freeze nuclear missile tests; (2) declare and verify all nuclear programs; (3) seal and shut down nuclear material and facilities; (4) and, finally, disable and dispose of all nuclear weapons.
if we’re going to talk about diplomacy, we need a goal. . Because moving back only a notch or two is still too close to the brink.