North Korea continues to dominate the headlines and ideas abound as to what its implications are for literally everyone in the Pacific region. Michael Yon, a former Green Beret and now freelance journalist, photographer and author, has some very interesting ideas. Essentially, North Korea is a willing pawn in the geo-political strategy of both Russia & China versus the US. The tests by the NORKs constitute a red line that the Russians, Chinese and the North Koreans seriously doubt that the US will cross. By not crossing this red line, the US is essentially throwing its allies, read South Korea and Japan, under the bus. It’s a very good article, entitled “War on the Horizon – Is the US ready to meet its Commitments?” and can be accessed here.
Another writer that I follow is Tyler Rogoway. His work can be found here. One of his latest articles explores the options open to the US; its entitled “Kim Jong Un has a plan. We don’t, but here are our options” and can be viewed here. The very title should cause one to ask, does the US really have a strategy for dealing with Kim Jong Un? As things seem to progress in the media, one would be tempted to admit we do not. Hints abound that the United States is trying to do something, i.e., the US Treasury Secretary looking at even more severe economic sanctions to a Jolly Roger flag flying from the mast of the USS Jimmy Carter submarine as it returned to base. (You can read about the Jolly Roger issue, and implications of the Jolly Roger flying from a submarine’s mast here, which is another articles of Rogoway’s.) However, just because there are signs that the US might be doing something is not an indication these are pieces of a coherent strategy. Rogoway concludes his article:
“We must confront the issue now creatively using a multi-pronged comprehensive strategy. At least this way if war comes to the Korean Peninsula we would know that we did everything we could to avoid it while still looking out for our own interests and for those of our allies in the region.”
The Trump administration has been very wary of tipping its hand on many issues, unlike previous occupants of the White House. A President who does not advertise what his plans are for his opponents is a nice change of pace. Nevertheless, the repeated “shows of force” we’ve seen after every threat or test from the NORKs and the oral posturing seen from the UN, do not appear to represent a coherent US strategy; rather, it seems as though the US is simply trying to show the world, not just Kim Jong Un, something, rather than nothing at all.