Our foreign foes like to test the resolve of the U.S. whenever there is a change of leadership, and right now Donald Trump is being tested by North Korea. On the eve of Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Kim Jong Un regime reportedly fired another ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.
The launch not only preceded Trump’s meeting with the Chinese president, but followed some strong rhetoric from the administration in recent days. Only hours before the launch, President Trump said that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program was a “humanity problem.” Another senior U.S. official said the “clock has now run out” on the madman’s dangerous agenda.
In the wake of the test, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said there had been “enough words” about North Korea, leaving open the possibility that Trump is ready to take strong action against the regime, up to and possibly including military intervention.
The other possibility, of course, is that Trump will finally be able to make China see the light when he meets with President Xi in Florida. China is reluctant to marginalize North Korea, seeing Kim’s destructive aggression as preferable to the fall of his regime. That could cause a refugee crisis for China, and – perhaps worse for them – could lead to a unified and Western-allied Korea.
“China has great influence over North Korea,” Trump said in an interview with the Financial Times last weekend. “And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t. And if they do that will be very good for China, and if they don’t it won’t be good for anyone.”
Truer words were never spoken.
In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Gen. John Hyten, who presides over U.S. Strategic Command, said, “Every time there’s a launch – Feb. 11, March 5th this year – the whole [U.S. nuclear network] comes up. We bring the entire power of my command to bear on the problem. Because we’re not sure – every time they launch – we’re not sure if this is a threat missile or not.”
Hyten said that there was no way to solve the crisis without the help of Beijing.
“Any solution to the North Korean problem has to involve China,” he said. “I’m a military officer, not a State Department official or any economic expert. But I just look at the world, and it’s hard for me to see a solution without China.”