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The Tweets of August: Trump’s North Korea Calculus Underestimates China

August 11, 2017

State-run paper says China will ‘prevent’ U.S. from ‘changing the political pattern of the Korean peninsula’

Donald J. Trump has spent this week making our mounting crisis with Pyongyang worse. Having repeatedly staked his prestige and credibility – and that of the United States – on preventing North Korea from becoming a full-fledged atomic power, he’s now backed us all into a corner from which there may be no peaceful exit.

For months, Trump has tweeted angrily at the North Korean regime, promising back in January before his inauguration that he would not permit Pyongyang to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States. “It won’t happen,” the president-elect boasted on Twitter.

Yet just eight months later that ominous moment may be upon us. According to the new secret  assessment of the Defense Intelligence Agency, North Korea is now able to develop an atomic warhead small enough to fit on top of a ballistic missile. While DIA’s analysis is hardly foolproof – missteps over Iraq’s WMD in 2002 left a lasting stain on that agency’s reputation –its assessment here is broadly supported by the rest of our Intelligence Community and deserves to be taken seriously.

In response, from his “working vacation” at his New Jersey golf course, Trump publicly threatened Pyongyang “with fire and the fury like the world has never seen” if that regime continues to taunt the United States with missiles. Notwithstanding that Trump’s belligerent talk – which, it turned out, was stated off-the-cuff, without any coordination with national security officials – was a transparent reference to hitting North Korea with nuclear weapons, the president’s “red line” had no positive effect on Pyongyang.

On the contrary, it took North Korea mere hours to cross Trump’s hollow “red line,” denouncing the president’s warning as a “load of nonsense.” In a fire-breathing statement, the head of Pyongyang’s strategic missile force announced that his country will launch four missiles towards the U.S. island of Guam in the western Pacific sometime later in August, adding a memorable put-down of our commander-in-chief: “Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason who is going senile.” For added effect, Pyongyang mocked Trump for spending so much time on the golf course.

Read the rest at The Observer …

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