ELDER PATRIOT – When Donald Trump assumed the presidency he had been left a foreign policy mess that spanned virtually every region of the world.
First he turned his attention to the Middle East tinderbox that Obama appeared to have deliberately destabilized during his eight years of coddling Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other Islamist radicals.
After a highly successful trip where he met with 63 Middle Eastern leaders and forged some initial and significant foreign policy commonalities, Trump turned his attention to China, North Korea, and China’s growing hegemony over the South China Sea.
He found another mess. This one was caused less because of what Obama did but rather what he didn’t do. He fecklessly allowed China to ride roughshod over the region and to threaten our allies.
China had been propping up Kim Jong-un’s regime because the threat North Korea posed to its neighbors allowed China to play the political counterweight. Obama had earned such complete disdain from the Chinese that they didn’t even give him an official welcome when he arrived there for the G-20 summit.
While President Trump had another mess on his hands he had an ace up his sleeve that Obama was never willing to play in defense of America or our allies – the world’s most fearsome military.
He began by ignoring arcane protocol and took a phone call from Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan – the free Chinese government in exile. This sent a message to the world, and especially to the government of Communist China, that America’s new president was not going to be restrained by past foreign policy mistakes.
Then he rolled out the red carpet for Xi Jinping the President of the People’s Republic of China – the communists. He showed Xi the respect accorded with a world leader and asked for his help in solving the threat problem that North Korea posed to Xi’s region and to our allies.
Trump’s critics called him naïve but he was forcing Xi to show his cards. If Xi successfully reigned in Kim he would lose an important foreign policy chip, one that China has cultivated for a number of decades by propping up NoKo’s anemic economy.
If Xi was unsuccessful, or simply rejected Trump’s request he would be admitting his country’s allegiance to NoKo’s rogue dictator and Kim’s pursuit of nuclear weapons capable of hitting our mainland. (We’ve since learned that NoKo already had that capability in 2013 but Obama kept that secret for the last four years.)
Without China’s help or approval, Trump sent two carrier strike forces to the South China Sea as a show of force to our allies in the region – South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and even Taiwan – that they could once again count on the U.S. after eight years of increasing doubts.
This challenged China’s previous domination over the South China Sea and forced Xi to find a way to save face as America was flexing its muscles in his backyard.
Seeking some way to save face China delivered an ultimatum to North Korea: If they hit the United States, they’re on their own. However, should the U.S. and South Korea strike North Korea first “China will prevent them from” implementing regime change in North Korea.
In the world of foreign policy negotiations words are carefully chosen. So what does this mean, exactly?
Chinese state-run Global Times recent editorial gives us additional insight:
“China opposes both nuclear proliferation and war in the Korean Peninsula. It will not encourage any side to stir up military conflict, and will firmly resist any side which wants to change the status quo of the areas where China’s interests are concerned. It is hoped that both Washington and Pyongyang can exercise restraint. The Korean Peninsula is where the strategic interests of all sides converge, and no side should try to be the absolute dominator of the region.”
- China welcomed North Korea’s nuclear development program. To believe otherwise denies that they knew what Kim’s engineers were up to – even when they were test launching missiles and developing fissile materials. That line of crap may have mollified Obama but it isn’t going to work with Trump.
- Indeed, China would like to maintain the status quo so that their seventy-plus years of propping up North Korea, so that one day they might do China’s dirty work, doesn’t go to waste. Again, Trump will not accept the status quo, and our superior military capability gives Trump major leverage in making sure things don’t remain they way they are.
- Then there’s China’s desire to be “the absolute dominator of the region.” They came close under Obama but that’s all changing with Trump’s superior knowledge of leveraging negotiations.
Whether Trump is jockeying for a unified South and North Korea we haven’t yet figured out yet, though it would be impossible to deny that the people of North Korea would be far better off if that were to be the outcome. North Koreans currently earn a per capita income of $1300 per year while their brethren to the South enjoy more than 11 times than that amount – $14,553.
They are separated only by a demilitarized zone that is 2.5 miles wide that with modern weapons renders the DMZ anything but that.
There is virtually no logical reason for the two countries to remain apart but, once again, the mainstream media is framing the debate to prop up a rogue dictator by calling Trump a crazy man.
This will not sway or bother Trump. He’s old enough to remember how they derided Ronald Reagan in the same manner.
China fears the unification of the two Koreas but from any logical perspective it makes infinite sense if their goal is truly peace and prosperity in that region of the world. And, if Trump is anything else, he’s a logical man.