Kim Jong-un rightly assumes that wealthy Western nations would prefer to pay bribe money than suffer the loss of a city — and that they have plenty of cash for such concessions. He is right that the medicine of taking out Kim’s missiles is considered by Western strategists to be even worse than the disease of living with a lunatic regime that has nukes.
.. Apparently, Beijing found a rabid North Korean government useful in bothering rivals such as the Japanese and South Koreans while keeping the U.S. off balance in Asia and the Pacific. The dynamic economies and pacifism of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan were taken for granted by China as easy targets for coercion and blackmail.
.. A preemptory strike might not get all of North Korea’s nuclear missiles and could prompt a conventional response that would wreck nearby Seoul — a scenario about which North Korea openly brags.
.. It may be tragic that a captive population suffers for the lunacy of its leader, but such misery is still preferable to an all-out war.
.. Nor should China be exempt from accompanying stiff trade restrictions. Almost every weapon component in the hands of North Korea either came directly from China or was purchased by cash earned through Chinese trade and remittances.
.. Australia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the U.S. need to coordinate a massive missile-defense project aimed at ending North Korean assumptions that even one of its missiles has a chance to reach its intended target.
.. Such a Marshall Plan–like investment would also send a message to China that its own nuclear deterrent could be compromised and nullified by the defensive efforts of its immediate neighbors. China has made life difficult for the U.S. and its Asian allies, and it should learn that the allies could make things even more problematic for China.
.. Iran, a beneficiary of North Korean nuclear assistance, is watching how far Kim can go. It will certainly make the necessary strategic adjustments if he succeeds in shaking down the Western world.
.. We are nearing an existential showdown, as failed efforts at bribery and appeasement have run their course. Only a tough, messy confrontation now can prevent a disastrous war later on.
But if the last 10 days have made anything clear, it’s this: The Republican Fausts are in an untenable position. The deal they’ve struck with the devil comes at too high a price. It really will cost them their soul.
In the first place, the Trump administration is not a Republican administration; it is an ethnic nationalist administration. Trump insulted both parties equally in his Inaugural Address. The Bannonites are utterly crushing the Republican regulars when it comes to actual policy making.
.. Third, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the aroma of bigotry infuses the whole operation, and anybody who aligns too closely will end up sharing in the stench.
The administration could have simply tightened up the refugee review process and capped the refugee intake at 50,000, but instead went out of its way to insult Islam. The administration could have simply tightened up immigration procedures, but Trump went out of his way to pick a fight with all of Mexico.
Other Republicans have gone far out of their way to make sure the war on terrorism is not a war on Islam or on Arabs, but Trump has gone out of his way to ensure the opposite. The racial club is always there.
.. “Precisely because the problem is one of temperament and character, it will not get better. It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him.
.. It will probably end in calamity — substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment.”
.. Already one sees John McCain and Lindsey Graham forming a bit of a Republican opposition. The other honorable senators will have to choose: Collins, Alexander, Portman, Corker, Cotton, Sasse and so on and so on.
.. With most administrations you can agree sometimes and disagree other times. But this one is a danger to the party and the nation in its existential nature.