One of the few foreign policy initiatives for which the Trump administration deserves high marks is the imposition of UN sanctions on North Korea. The obstacle has always been China and Russia. Today, once again, the Security Council voted to up the level of coercion on the Kim regime. Behind the scenes, the US was able to negotiate with China to get their agreement.
The United Nations Security Council has voted to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea in response to its recent ballistic missile tests.North Korea: UN imposes fresh sanctions over missile testshttp://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-42459670
The US-drafted resolution includes measures to drastically reduce the nation's petrol imports by up to 90%.
It includes measures such as a ban on exports of North Korean goods, such as machinery and electrical equipment.
All North Korean nationals working abroad will have to return home within 12 months under the proposals.
At the same time, Kori Schalke, a conservative Republican foreign policy expert who served in the Bush administration during the Iraq War, is concerned that the Trump administration is following the same build up to war with North Korea as she observed in 2003 with regard to Saddam Hussein.
Writing in The Atlantic
, Schake points out:
The lines of argument employed by the Bush Administration in 2003 and the Trump Administration in 2017 both rely on the same basic elements:
1. The adversary’s actions are increasingly threatening;
2. It would be irresponsible to continue the policy trajectory of prior administrations;
3.The adversary leadership cannot be considered rational;
4. Their intent is not merely regime survival but attacks on the U.S. and allies;
5. International cooperation is inadequate to the threat; and
6. Retaliation after a first strike from the enemy is insufficient—either to deter or to punish.
And, as Mira Rapp-Hooper has emphasized, the Trump administration argues that the U.S. must act before North Korea attains even more dangerous capabilities. They are reprising the argument made by the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Cuban missile crisis
It is possible that Chinese cooperation with recent Security Council resolutions is designed to forestall such a devastating event on its border.
Schake points out that the most wildly successful US attack in which all missile and conventional threats were eliminated within three hours would still likely result in the death of 300,000 South Korean civilians and, unless they were evacuated before hand, American families of US soldiers would be included. The North Koreans have assembled a massive array of artillery along the border that could devastate Seoul in short order.
A preemptive war on the Korean Peninsula would look nothing like the War in Iraq, as destructive as the latter turned out to be. It would be magnitudes worse in its devastation and its consequences.
In its National Security Policy statement prior to the attack on Iraq, the Bush administration included a section on the potential need for preemptive war. In the Trump administration's document, released this week, no such assertion is made. That may have no meaning at all, however, given Trump's volatility and the discontinuities between policy statements of his staff and his tweets.
Japan has stated that it will only support a defensive war resulting from a North Korean attack. The South Korean government has assured its people that the US has promised not to take military action without his approval. However, McMaster says there will be consultations--an entirely different position. Given Trump's unwillingness to listen to his own advisers, there is valid cause for concern.
Schake leaves us with small comfort.
President Trump was derisive about the Bush administration’s mistakes in the Iraq war; it would be doubly tragic for him to repeat them. If the Trump administration isn’t re-examining their assumptions, they desperately need to be. They’re lurching arrogantly toward disaster. The North Korea Debate Sounds Eerily Familiarhttps://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/12/north-korea-iraq-war-george-w-bush-trump/547796/