Sunday, July 09, 2017

Chaos theory, Asia edition: North Korea fires as U.S. flails

On the far side of the world digs in a mad regime obsessed with becoming a full-fledged nuclear power with global reach — the better to blackmail regional rivals.
Here at home, the U.S. President pursues a potentially incendiary path of provocation both to dictator Kim Jong Un via Twitter — Twitter! — and in a blustering attempt to bully neighbor China into reining in its neighbor.
Meaning North Korea and its new intercontinental ballistic missile, provocatively sending a flare America’s way on the 4th of July with word that such could one day reach U.S. Pacific military bases and eventually Alaska, is not alone in testing toward a breaking point the limits of international diplomacy.

Trump reportedly told China President Xi Jinping Sunday that the U.S. is prepared to take unilateral action. That could include the scenario of a military confrontation with North Korea, as readied by his strategists. This, after Trump in recent days raised the threat of tariffs on Chinese products, slammed China for human trafficking and readied weapons sales to spurned Taiwan.
Xi could cave, whatever that bodes — but could also call Trump’s bluff. And then what? As Trump plays bad cop, the foreign-policy good cop — the State Department — is AWOL.
Since taking office, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has yet to name one assistant secretary, canceled the incoming class of foreign service officers and left key diplomatic positions unfilled, including ambassador to South Korea.
With each lapse grows a dreaded likelihood that the problem of a nuclear North Korea will be addressed by military means — with potentially catastrophic results for South Korea and the entire region.
Tragically, the United States has an administration that seems not to care where the ship is steering.

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