Strategic Patience Ends
The 'hermit nation' that is North Korea is yet another example of the abject failure of a totalitarian, socialist regime. It's people are literally starving while its ruling class spends almost all of the country's meager resources supporting itself in luxury, building an aggressive military, and developing nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. It threatens it's immediate neighbors and the West as it goes.
Because the NoKos are an economic basket case, they use their military actions as a lever to force aid concessions out of the West. After billions of dollars in "aid" provided by both Democrat and Republican administrations, the Euros, and others, the NoKos have neither modified their aggressive stance nor improved the lot of their starving and beleaguered population. But the elites in the West counsel patience—surely, over time the NoKos will come around. No matter that they get stronger and more dangerous with every passing year. The hope has always been that China will control NoKo. Yet, that didn't happen during the Clinton, Bush, or Obama presidencies. Since the November election, the elites have told us that Donald Trump—the proverbial bull in a china shop— wouldn't make any progress either. After all, we're constantly told that he has no feel for foreign policy and that he's quixotic and unpredictable.
Yet, Trump's Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, commenting on North Korea, recently stated that the policy of "strategic patience" is now over.
The Washington Post (certainly no friend of Trump) comments:
Something interesting is happening in China and perhaps President Trump deserves some credit.Hmmm. I wonder why the past administration with all of its brilliant minds and nuanced foreign policy could not have achieved this result. It might be because it wasn't perceived as being serious. Or possibly, it was because it didn't have the will to send the appropriate message to the Chinese (the lynchpin in any attempt to control NoKo).
For the first time, the Chinese government appears to have laid down a bottom-line with North Korea and is threatening Pyongyang with a response of “unprecedented ferocity” if the government of Kim Jong Un goes ahead with a test of either an intercontinental ballistic missile or a nuclear device. North Korea will celebrate the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il Sung, on Saturday, and some type of military show of force is expected.
In an editorial in the semi-official Global Times on Wednesday, Pyongyang was put on notice that it must rein in its nuclear ambitions, or else China’s oil shipments to North Korea could be “severely limited.” It is extraordinary for China to make this kind of threat. For more than a decade, as part of its strategy to prop up one of its only allies, China refused to allow the U.N. Security Council to even consider cutting oil shipments to North Korea. Beijing’s calculus was that the maintenance of the North Korean regime took precedence over everything. Now Beijing seems to be reconsidering its position.
Trump does in fact deserve credit for China's turnaround. The not-so-subtle message delivered through his recent military actions in Syria and Afghanistan and the apparent success of his meeting with Chinese President, Xi Jinping, are pivotal in China's policy shift.
Still, Chinese efforts may not work, and if the Chinese can't control the NoKos, bad things may have to happen. It looks like the era of kicking the can down the road (a.k.a., "patience") has come to an end.