The last 24 hours have done nothing if not shown the resiliency of the American president’s thumbs. They are dutifully back at work now that he’s done his due diligence in Texas. Unfortunately, his performance in the wake of Hurricane Harvey does not invalidate the actions he takes the rest of the time. His latest tweeting should make us all wish it did.
Yesterday morning, President Trump shot across the bow of South Korean leadership by presuming to tell them – via Twitter, of course – that diplomatic efforts to save their people “will not work.” North Korea had just tested an underground hydrogen bomb that registered a 6.3 on the Richter scale. Maybe he thinks Twitter is a better method of communication than traditional government channels. Apparently, his real estate development experience has honed his foreign policy skills, and informed his knowledge of what North Korea understands. We are to assume his “good brain” knows more about North Korean behavior than South Korean leaders do.
Oh ok. So, after 60 years, they’re NOW finding out what Trump has been telling them for a few months? Got it. Six hours later, presumably to show he means business, he threatened to stop all trade with anyone who does business with North Korea, including China, who represents 83% of all DPRK trade.
So, they still only understand sanctions? Or military threats? Which is it? That itself came hours after he said he’s working on a plan to pull out of our free trade agreement with South Korea, too. Why he’s pushing them around on trade at the time we need military unity is unknown. This has economic leaders there worried. Add to this the disconnect between the public stance of our two countries, which Korean experts are calling “Korean passing,” or, the passing over of Southern interest to deal with North Korea unilaterally.
Yes, the President is literally taking a shotgun to everyone in the room – both our allies, and our enemies, along with the negotiators, all at once.
South Korea already has reason to distrust the American president’s impulses, as he once demanded South Korea pay for our military presence there. (They actually do subsidize 30% of operations)
Many felt his several statements over the years indicate he does not grasp the geopolitical value of the region.
If Trump gets his way (at least what he thinks the last 24 hours), our North Korean strategy no longer includes the collaboration of 51 million South Koreans facing probable death in a military conflict with their neighbors. But to make matters worse, we will no longer trade with China, Russia, India and even Brazil or Chile – because they conduct trade with North Korea – and we will no longer have free trade with the South. This means more than $1 trillion of economic activity will cease, if the U.S. government performs according to Trump’s tweets.
No doubt, the reliable defenders will rush to say:
1. He doesn’t mean it,
2. His administration will temper his threats, or
3. That it’s a good idea.
So, in other words:
1. He doesn’t speak the truth,
2. He can’t make good decisions without his administration stepping in, or
3. We’re headed for a global recession in the next year, and millions may die.
Which is it? The fact that we can ask is frightening.
I’m just gonna say it: We told you so.