VP Mike Pence is on the Korean Peninsula today:
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) April 17, 2017
David Frum would like to see more than just a few staged visuals:
So although we are all impressed by VP Pence’s stern facial expressions and warrior leather jacket, seems we have no plan & few allies.
— David Frum (@davidfrum) April 17, 2017
I was vaguely planning to write a post reminding everyone that we still have only two options regarding North Korea, but the New York Times reminds me that we have three:
- a military strike that could ignite a full-blown war;
- pressure on China to impose tougher sanctions to persuade the North to change course, an approach that failed for his predecessors;
- or a deal that could require significant concessions, with no guarantee that North Korea would fulfill its promises.
I’d forgotten all about the diplomatic option, what with Rex Tillerson insisting that the era of “strategic patience” was over and Pence warning North Korea not to test US “resolve.” But I suppose it might actually be the most likely one. A military strike designed to take out North Korea’s bomb/missile-making capacity would require a lot more than a few dozen cruise missiles. It would probably take weeks and would indeed touch off a real, live hot war that I doubt Trump has any stomach for.1 The China option is currently underway, and I suspect it has a better chance of success than in the past, simply because China is a little more fed up with Kim Jong-un than in the past. But it’s still unlikely to work.
And that leaves diplomacy. This also has close to a zero chance of working, but it might have a decent chance of providing Trump with something he can claim is the greatest treaty ever signed. Maybe that will be enough for him.
1I hope not, anyway.