Window is closing
It’s as if North Korean President Kim Jong Un is doing one of those Verizon commercials asking the rest of the world: “Can you hear me now?”
All that is left for the rogue nation to do is demonstrate it can miniaturize and attach a nuclear warhead to one of those missiles and the world will be in full-scale crisis. It is foolhardy to believe the North Koreans won’t do it shortly, if they haven’t already.
Time is running out for diplomacy. But the Trump administration is blathering about China and others needing to step up with pressure. The United States has the most to lose, with missiles within shot of Silicon Valley and maybe even Washington, D.C.
Of course, North Korea’s close neighbors Japan and South Korea, strong U.S. allies, already see this is as full-scale crisis. They’re right. They know the world’s “experts” have underestimated North Korea and its capabilities at nearly every turn and that this threat must be neutralized.
After the launch on Friday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said United Nations sanctions on North Korea must be tightened. He called out both China and Russia for not doing enough. This leaves us stuck in a dangerous game of chicken in which the table stakes are nuclear bombs. Complicating matters: both Kim and President Donald Trump have hair-trigger tempers, and neither is known for prudent restraint, let alone subtle diplomacy.
U.S. administrations have been kicking this can down the road for decades. But the buck is stopping here. With Trump unlikely to reason this through, Tillerson may be our only hope.