Thursday, 6 July 2017

How Do We Solve a Problem Like North Korea?

When you think about it, Donald Trump should understand The Fat Leader very well. After all they are both fat, they are both narcissists, they are both unpleasant bullies, they are both given to bombast and to upping the ante. They are both gamblers. So why can't Trump get the measure of the fat kid in the bankrupt country?

Well it's because this is a problem that people much smarter than Trump is have been wrestling with for years. Nobody has yet come up with a solution and so they kept putting it off, hoping that something would come up, that sanity would prevail, that the Chinese would do something with their annoying neighbour, that the regime would fall.

Of course China doesn't want the regime to fall. They are playing their usual cynical game as are Russia and so the Kim dynasty has prospered.

I remain sceptical of just how advanced their technology is. This is more bombast. Trump should understand that. This was their equivalent of one of his tweets.

This was clearly a big step forward. There is no denying that. But it's not clear if they can deliver weapons with it. They probably can't. It's not clear if they have miniaturised their atomic weapons. They probably haven't. And most of all how good are these weapons? How many of them do they have? How quickly would they be able to deploy and fire them? Not quickly is my guess. Meaning they are symbolic and nothing more.

And most of all it's not really clear what they want. They want some respect of course, they want a relaxation of sanctions, they want an end to US/South Korean military exercises. They cannot be given any of these things. China is playing its cynical game and adding on to this that it would be helpful if America removed its THAAD missile system. But that is China's clear aim. China feels threatened by THAAD. So this is why they haven't really discouraged North Korea at all.

It's true that there are no good military options available. A war would be catastrophic and maybe even worse for all of us. It could easily run out of control. It's long forgotten that the original Korean war, which was started by the North contrary to their subsequent rewriting of history, was only ended by America threatening China with its newly acquired atom bomb. So China backed off and the armistice was agreed when they forced the North to agree terms. North Korea probably never forgot that. Now they have their own, even if it is not all they claim it to be. It is 1950s technology like everything else they possess.

So what is the solution? It is to get tough with China and Russia. Start ratcheting up sanctions against both of them until they agree to deal with the North. The Fat Leader must go. That doesn't mean that China has to tolerate a democratic country to its south. But it should take responsibility for it.

And this means that Trump has to be tough and to start shooting his mouth off. If he can't do the job, which he probably can't, he should leave it to the grown ups. The trouble is that there aren't many of them in his administration. It is terrifying that this problem should have stopped at the desk of such an ignorant and stupid man. We really are on the cusp of something that could easily prove disastrous for the whole world. Other allies of America need to stand alongside Trump and ensure he appreciates his responsibility.

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