Standing into danger - North Korea

Trump’s strategy to reverse America's global decline has impacted three critical areas of American foreign policy: Russian relations, the Middle East and China. I have not included North Korea because it is, in reality, part of the Chinese challenge to oblate American power. It is worth remembering that North Korea ascended to become a nuclear power by using the distraction of the second Iraq war, on the basis that America would not fight on two fronts. It worked and is a lesson that Kim seems not to have forgotten. We can assume that it was only the immense pressure which Trump placed on China and North Korea that brought them to the point where they appeared to seek a negotiated solution to ease the heat. They have since sabotaged the process thereby forcing Trump to call off the talks and leaving egg on the face of the South Korean leader. Such a breakdown before a meeting had even taken place has significantly reduced the already slim possibility of a negotiated settlement, especially with Trump's ego in the way! With respect to the timing of Kim’s withdrawal from the process a large factor might have been Trumps non-ratification of the Iran Nuclear deal. Once again Kim may have thought that America would be stretched to commence fighting on two fronts. However, this may be a gross misjudgment. America has forged a regional alliance with Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of whom are currently at war by proxy with Iran in Yemen and Syria. They are simultaneously well able to deal with any escalated Iranian threat, as long as America provides top cover with respect to Russia. Having drawn Trump's fangs in a well-used North Korean strategy sucker play into negotiations, the question is what will Trump do next? We should assume that his response will be like no other President before him. Firstly Trump knows that President Xi is pulling Kim’s strings and as such he blames China for the breakdown in the talks. Meanwhile whilst the peace process ostensibly looked very positive the Chinese continued their expansive and aggressive policies, adding fuel to the fire: · What seems like a very minor issue of the use of handheld lasers aimed at the eyes of American pilots in Djibouti. · Using its cheap funding mechanism in the Southern Seas to build a Pacific power base that Manheim would approve of · Using debt diplomacy to acquire Navel basing rites in Vanuatu and Guadalcanal to potentially threaten Austrailia and New Zealand. This is essentially a slow re-run of the battle of the Coral Sea/ Guadalcanal campaign of WW2. · The increased militarization of the artificial island chain in the south China seas with the surface to surface(SSM), surface to air (SAM)and the landing of bombers that has been ratcheting up the tension. These signals may each seem small but when viewed together they mark a slow and relentless build-up of the strategic competition between the two nations. Whilst the Korean peace process was on the table Trump de-escalated a trade war, but now that that process is in abeyance we should expect to see the issue only accelerate towards the dropping of a new iron curtain. Regarding overwhelming military action by America against North Korea, I would assess that it is very much on the table again as far as Trump is concerned. His options were either a negotiated or a forced denuclearisation of North Korea. Only this time as the pressure builds to the point of military action, it will be very much harder for China and North Korea to resort to negotiation with a far more skeptical Trump. Especially as Trump can now say that he did all he could to prevent an armed conflict, giving him far more moral authority to act with overwhelming force. As for the outcome of such an action, we still believe that the US will be overwhelmingly successful in removing the nation’s nuclear and conventional military capability.