Trump's threat to rain "fire and fury" down on North Korea if Kim Jong-un makes another threat has disappeared in the fog of another of his self-induced crises. The incoherence of his administration, however, remains as evident in foreign as in domestic affairs.
Bannon, Trump's alt-right brain, was quoted that North Korea's nuclear program was a done deal and that the US could negotiate a freeze on its further development in exchange for US withdrawal of troops from South Korea. Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, denied the possibility of such a US withdrawal while in China to discuss closer military cooperation to avoid conflict if war broke out on the Korean peninsula. Dunford still considers US military action a possibility. This can only raise the fears of our South Korean allies that they could be abandoned to face the North Koreans without the umbrella of US protection--a promise we made half a century ago, or suffer the destruction of Seoul and a million casualties resulting from a US military strike against the North. The public contradiction between two top administration figures should be resolved in private debate within the government, but the dysfunction of the Trump White House has exposed the confusion and conflict that reigns between factions and individuals.
This policy incoherence undermines the ability of the US to deal clearly and reliably with allies and foreign foes alike. Bush and Obama were open to criticism for their decisions, but the policies were well-defined and understood by all sides. The administration has shown consistency in its pursuit of ISIL, but, in other prominent areas, it appears confused in the eyes of the world.
The solution is evident: the appointment of missing foreign policy deputies in the State Department. The Secretary of State needs the assistance of Republican foreign policy experts who opposed Trump during the presidential campaign. Trump's personal pique should not damage US foreign policy, but it is. The president will not agree to the appointment of people, even Republicans, who opposed him. This must change. Four years of policy incoherence will leave us permanently diminished where issues of vital national security are concerned.Contradictory Remarks by Bannon and Dunford Deepen Confusion Over U.S. Strategy for North Korea https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/16/world/asia/north-korea-trump-moon-jae-in-south.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news