Trump ups pres­sure as North Korea endgame looms

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY TODD WOOD ● L. Todd Wood is a for­mer spe­cial op­er­a­tions he­li­copter pi­lot and Wall Street debt trader, and has con­trib­uted to Fox Busi­ness, The Moscow Times, Na­tional Re­view, the New York Post and many other pub­li­ca­tions. He can be reached through his

We are com­ing to the endgame in North Korea. The only ques­tion is what the fi­nal moves will be. Pres­i­dent Trump has made it very clear that China has not been ef­fec­tive in curb­ing Kim Jong-un’s rogue regime. Mr. Trump made a big show at Mar-a-Lago and in sub­se­quent meet­ings with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping of giv­ing Beijing the space to solve the sit­u­a­tion and show the world that Amer­ica was leav­ing no stone un­cov­ered in the quest to de­nu­cle­arize the Korean penin­sula.

That ef­fort has failed. Py­ongyang is ag­gres­sive as ever, launch­ing bal­lis­tic mis­siles, threat­en­ing an­other nu­clear test and killing Amer­i­can col­lege kids.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is mov­ing to the next phase. Now there is talk about erect­ing trade bar­ri­ers against China, in­clud­ing tar­iffs and other mea­sures. Amer­ica has a great deal of clout here. The U.S. econ­omy is deep and re­silient and has been held back by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion for a decade.

Mr. Trump’s dereg­u­la­tory drive, the fo­cus on cre­at­ing a busi­ness-friendly cli­mate and the push to make Amer­ica the global en­ergy leader will do noth­ing but fuel a new wave of pros­per­ity. The pen­du­lum is on the up­swing, hav­ing just avoided the Obama/Hil­lary so­cial­ist night­mare. In other words, we have not yet be­gun to fight.

On the other had, China is one mas­sive bub­ble. Bub­bles in the eq­uity mar­kets, bub­bles in the credit mar­kets, and bub­bles in hous­ing as empty cities are be­ing built in or­der to keep a bil­lion Chi­nese ru­ral work­ers happy — all pose great risk for the Mid­dle King­dom. In short, China has to keep mak­ing and keep sell­ing. We are their end mar­ket. Tar­iffs scare the liv­ing day­lights out of the Com­mu­nist lead­er­ship in Beijing. China is a house of cards and — par­don the pun — Amer­ica holds the Trump card.

On the mil­i­tary front, Wash­ing­ton is putting forces in place to deal with the threat. The United States sim­ply can­not al­low North Korea to have the ca­pa­bil­ity to threaten North Amer­ica with a bal­lis­tic mis­sile, no mat­ter the cost. Mr. Trump is the first pres­i­dent in decades to look at threats to the re­pub­lic in the eye. He is also the first pres­i­dent in decades to re­ally deal with the sit­u­a­tion. Great men do great things.

Yes, a war with North Korea would be cat­a­strophic. How­ever, so would a nu­clear strike on Los An­ge­les. Here I’m hav­ing a men­tal im­age of the hip­pies on top of the sky­scraper in the movie “In­de­pen­dence Day” as the alien trains the laser beam, sec­onds away from va­por­iz­ing the dope-smok­ing groupies.

The $64,000 ques­tion is, “What would China and Rus­sia do if the U.S. took ac­tion against Kim Jong-un?” China may be per­suaded to look the other way. North Korea is a prob­lem for them as well, a prob­lem they would like solved.

How­ever, North Korea was started by Stalin’s Soviet Union. I’m not sure Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin could look the other way. Suc­cess for Mr. Trump on the Korean penin­sula would make Mr. Putin look weak. North Korea is a use­ful id­iot for Rus­sia, keep­ing the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary en­gaged and not fo­cused on Moscow’s other mil­i­tary moves, a use­ful ir­ri­tant to Wash­ing­ton. And this leads to Amer­i­can pol­icy in Syria. Mr. Trump has shot down Syr­ian air­craft, lobbed mis­siles at Rus­sia oc­cu­pied air­fields, and threat­ened the Bashar As­sad regime on ad­di­tional chem­i­cal weapons use. In other words, Mr. Trump is al­ready con­fronting Rus­sia. He will not al­low Amer­i­can se­cu­rity to be com­pro­mised, not in Syria, or North Korea. He is forc­ing Mr. Putin to re­cal­i­brate his as­sess­ment of Amer­i­can power af­ter the in­com­pe­tent, weak Obama years. Mr. Trump is telling Mr. Putin in non-ver­bal cues what he has al­ready told the world pub­licly — deal with the North Korean prob­lem — or Amer­ica will.

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