President Donald Trump would be best served to simply ignore the provocations of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, a former acting director of the CIA said Friday, and is “making it worse” by replying with a show of force.
.. “We have a new president and Kim Jong Un is trying to challenge him, is trying to get him back to the negotiating table,” former CIA acting Director Mike Morell said Friday on “CBS This Morning,” praising former President Barack Obama for largely ignoring the North Korean regime’s efforts at saber rattling. “Kim Jong Un wants to get back to a situation where we give them gifts when they do something bad. And then we are also making it worse, right? With our bluster and by sending aircraft carriers in there, we’re raising the crisis.”
.. “It’s best to just ignore this guy and to deter him from ever using these weapons or selling them and to build our defenses,” said Morell
The Trump administration issued an $89 million warning to other countries. But the message has its limits.
Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has portrayed the cruise-missile blitz as an $89 million warning not just to Syria, but to other rogue nations like North Korea.
.. “The message that any nation can take is if you violate international norms, if you violate international agreements, if you fail to live up to commitments, if you become a threat to others, at some point a response is likely to be undertaken,” Tillerson
.. But is the Trump administration learning the right lessons from the Syria campaign? And is the message they’re sending as powerful as they seem to think it is?
.. The North Korean government, for its part, claims to have drawn the opposite conclusion from Trump’s bombing campaign: that the only way to prevent the United States from attacking it too is to develop a fearsome nuclear deterrent.
.. There could be “millions of casualties if something like this were to happen,” the Korea expert Victor Cha recently told me, and all for a military operation that would only temporarily set back North Korea’s weapons program.
..the first few days of the fight would be critical if we were to have any chance of protecting Seoul. To do so, we would have to get the chemical-delivery systems, the missile sites, and the nuclear sites before the North Koreans had a chance to use them. To accomplish all this we would need to carry out 4,000 air sorties a day in the first days of the conflict. In Iraq, in contrast, we had carried out 800 a day.
.. “My understanding is that we cannot protect Seoul, at least for the first twenty-four hours of a war, and maybe for the first forty-eight.”
.. “In the event of a North Korean attack, U.S. forces, working side by side with the South Korean army and using bases in Japan, would quickly destroy the North Korean army and the North Korean regime. But … [t]he intensity of combat would be greater than any the world has witnessed since the last Korean War.”
This was not first attempt on Kim Jong Nam’s life. Five years ago, when he took power, Kim Jong Un issued a “standing order” to have his half brother assassinated, South Korean spy chief Lee Byung-ho told lawmakers in Seoul on Wednesday.
.. One attempt, in 2012, prompted Kim Jong Nam to send a letter to his younger brother pleading with him to “spare me and my family,” lawmakers were told.
.. Black sedans bearing North Korean diplomatic plates pulled up outside the general hospital, and the North Korean ambassador to Malaysia, Kang Chol, emerged from one. He refused to speak to reporters.
.. Police said the North Korean diplomats had tried to stop the autopsy, insisting that the body be released to them.
.. A Malaysian police official told local reporters only that the poison was “more potent than cyanide” but declined to say what exactly it was.
.. one driven by a visibly upset young man in his 20s wearing a pink T-shirt — perhaps Kim Han Sol, the most visible of Kim Jong Nam’s six children.
Another sign of Mr. Kim’s weakening control, Mr. Thae said, is evident at the unofficial markets in North Korea where women trade goods, mostly smuggled from China. The vendors used to be called “grasshoppers” because they would pack and flee whenever they saw the police approaching. Now, they are called “ticks” because they refuse to budge, demanding a right to make a living, Mr. Thae said.