[April 28, 2017] How do you measure a successful strategy? That is one of the major issues over changing United States’ policies toward North Korea. Over the past several weeks, the socialist dictator Kim Jong Un has followed a well-known successful strategy of using verbose and vitriolic rhetoric, threatening the community of nations, and showing resolve in the face of international pressure.
To contain the North Korean dynasty, the United States, key allies (like South Korea & Japan), and the United Nations have historically relied on a strategy of strategic patience. I wrote back in 2014 that this was a successful strategy if, and that is a big if, we measure the strategy to contain North Korea and preventing war. In the short-term this strategy has worked.
In other words, the world is content to wait for North Korea to realize its foolishness and join the modern world on their schedule; “we’ll just wait them out” one diplomat proposed. How we define a successful U.S. strategy here is important because the election of U.S. President Donald Trump changed the calculus of such a strategy.
President Trump is not content to wait. He believes North Korea is an unacceptable risk to the U.S. homeland and to our allies. With North Korea’s advancement in nuclear weapons and missile technology Trump has spent considerable time addressing the subject. He issued a number of dramatic statements to that affect and made several military moves that Kim Jong Un considers provocative.
Back in mid 2016, I noted that morally this strategy [of strategic patience] is a failure and Trump appears to have taken this view along with a more realistic view of Kim Jong Un and his hermit kingdom. What will either Trump or Kim Jong Un do? What will happen? That, of course, is the big unknown answer to the question of rejecting the appeasement strategy of the past.
Kim Jong Un has no experience with a national leader like Trump (who has never been a politician before) who sees through the North Korean strategy and is letting the world know about it. Will Kim Jong Un blink like the Russians did over their employment of nuclear capable missiles in Cuba when John F. Kennedy was the U.S. president?
This is what is often called “brinksmanship diplomacy.” I have a different take on the strategy being employed by Trump. That is, as the leader of America and de facto leader of the free world, Trump is cleaning up the mess weaker leaders left for him.
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