Friday, April 20, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He swallowed some North Korean bait.

The Kim Jong-un regime in North Korea today announced that it had completed tests on its current models of long-range missiles and nuclear devices. The timing was a bit of diplomatic gamesmanship: there is a planned summit meeting with South Korea that begins in three days, and so the "announcement" was about tests that had already ended more than half a year ago

Trump, who last month was essentially tricked into committing to a summit with Kim, immediately seized on this as good news. He declared in a tweet that the "shut down [of] a nuclear test site" was "progress." He did not mention the reason for the closure of the site or the end of the tests. Trump also did not mention (and may not have known) that the underground site that was being closed may have been in danger of collapsing in on itself anyway, following North Korea's successful test of its first hydrogen bomb last September.

In the same statement, Kim strongly suggested that North Korea would keep its nuclear arsenal as leverage and a deterrent.

So what?

  • The successful completion of a hostile country's nuclear weapons tests is nothing for the President of the United States to celebrate.
  • Ignoring nuclear threats does not make them go away.
  • The safety of the United States and its allies is more important than a president's political fortunes.