Thursday, April 27, 2017
Donald Trump risking war with North Korea for 100 Days legacy
As his 100-day plan founders in the face of an antagonistic Congress and an unyielding judiciary, Trump is turning to North Korea to look presidential.
Trump stepped into the Oval Office talking tough on North Korea and pressuring China to take action against the insular dictatorship.
And by doing so, Trump gave North Korea exactly what they wanted – a villain.
More than any other country in modern history, North Korea's stability is built around the idea of total war.
Like Imperialist Japan during World War II, Kim Jong-Un rallies his people around the notion that they need to be united in the face of a potential invasion.
By doing so, Kim can solidify his power and keep his citizens in line in spite of their economic despair and oppression.
It was harder to do when Barack Obama was making conciliatory gestures towards Pyongyang.
But Trump is taking the opposite approach, with his state department talking tough.
"The policy of strategic patience has ended," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in March.
And like a drunk guy getting kicked out a pub, North Korea is responding to the threats with aggressive bluster and war posturing.
Trump is hoping to claim a moral victory by staring down Kim Jong-Un in the first 100 days of his presidency.
And if he is successful, it will go a long way towards improving his standing after a tumultuous few months in the White House.
If he's not, he will have shaken a hornet's nest wedged between two of the three largest economies in the world.
The first 100 days is an arbitrary metric of a president's success, but it is one that has been embraced by every administration since the concept was coined by Franklin Roosevelt in 1932.
In his first 100 days, Obama had passed the stimulus act, signed a fair pay bill, sent more troops to Afghanistan and welcomed a defecting Republican senator to the Democratic party.
Trump heaped scorn on the idea of a "first 100 days", calling it a "ridiculous standard" on Twitter this week.
But Trump's dismissal of the concept would be more believable if he had not spent his campaign talking about what he would do in his first 100 days.
During his run he pledged to repeal Obamacare, start construction on his wall with Mexico, label China a currency manipulator and push for an amendment to impose term-limits on Congress.
Since being sworn in at the end of January, he backtracked on his China stance, hasn't addressed term limits, and found himself at loggerheads with Congress over Obamacare and the wall.
In October he announced his "Contract with the American Voter" which listed 10 major pieces of legislation he vowed to pass in his first 100 days.
"None have been passed — not a single one — and nine haven’t even been sent to the Congress," former Clinton and Obama aide Ronald Klain told the New York Times.
And while the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is a big deal, it was pretty much a given because of the Republican majority in the Senate.
What he has actually achieved is really a matter of what he has successfully undone, rolling back a slew of environmental regulations passed by his predecessor.
And his spate of executive orders are largely inconsequential, with most commissioning studies or creating task forces rather than changing laws.
A self-perpetuating problem is the slow rate of appointments for various government roles.
Of 554 positions in the Trump Administration that require Senate confirmation, just 24 people have been appointed.
475 of those vacancies have no candidates announced.
And while the White House has a stated intention of shrinking the size of Washington bureaucracy, it's easy to see how so many empty desks are impacting the administration's output.
It has an even bigger impact on Trump's relations with North Korea. Right now there is one person in a senior position at the State Department, the Secretary of State himself.
Rex Tillerson has no prior government experience and has no senior advisors with any real State Department clout.
One of the main frustrations with Barack Obama during his presidency was his milquetoast, sober approaches to foreign policy.
Rightly or wrongly, Obama's public approach to countries like North Korea was seen as being weak.
But Trump's more headstrong attitude to North Korea is a risky one, given there's such a shortage of staff at the State Department and the Pentagon to back him up if things turn sour.
Now it's becoming clear why Obama was so shy when it came to North Korea – he didn't want to go to war with them.
Kim Jong-Un is an erratic egotist surrounded by yes-men with one of the largest militaries in the world. And say what you like about Trump, he's far more sensible than Kim.
Staring down Kim in the hope he blinks is a big risk when there's not much to gain by going to war with them.
Trump may think he'll look like a hero by winning a showdown with North Korea, but voters may not be thrilled he got the US so involved in the first place.
Posted by wikisabah at 1:27:00 PM