The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea held another ballistic missile test as part of its program to develop its own nuclear arsenal, and it’s caused another round of frustration with the U.S. Pyongyang chose the best possible moment to insult the Trump administration and to inflict the most pain.
First of all, the test was conducted after the president of the United States had stated several times that North Korea continuing its nuclear program was impermissible and also promised several times that the problem would be solved by any means.
Further missile launches by the North Koreans promptly showed that “the emperor has no clothes.”* Donald Trump was either bluffing, or pulling the wool over the eyes of the voters. This isn’t the first time– and certainly won’t be the last – that Trump deceives his voters. Everyone has already become accustomed to this.
The point is, Trump is pulling the wool over the eyes of America’s partners and allies in Asia. This was once again demonstrated by North Korea’s latest missile test.
The second important aspect would be that, with these launches, Pyongyang hinted at the possibility of reaching not only American military bases on the island of Guam, but also at having the ability to strike the continental United States. From the perspective of Washington, this is an absolutely unacceptable risk.
Western mass media argues that the trajectory of the North Korean missile was chosen to show that it’s theoretically possible to reach Washington, and presently I am inclined to believe them.
North Korean mass media decided to play up Western panic. Some of the information that has been thrown around includes the development of a new intercontinental ballistic missile, the “Hwasong-15.” This missile can not only fly to any point in the United States, but also carry a “super-heavy nuclear warhead.”
Trump now has an absolutely unsolvable problem.
On one hand, he can’t ignore the direct threat to Washington posed by North Korea’s nuclear missiles.
On the other, he doesn’t have simple solutions. Even the president of South Korea recently said that a military solution cannot be used and that the U.S. must coordinate its actions with South Korean authorities.
And Trump has an image problem as well.
His image is that of a serious and determined guy who looks really cool against the backdrop of Barack Obama, whom Trump himself often called a weakling and a doormat. In order to support this image, you need to kill, bomb, humiliate and conquer someone. Only this doesn’t work with North Korea.
There’s a sense that the Trump administration had seriously hoped a show of strength by means of a carrier fleet off the coast of North Korea would make Kim Jong Un stand down. Consequently, Washington doesn’t have a Plan B if Plan A doesn’t work.
Plan A didn’t work, and it’s absolutely unclear what to do next.
Even if Pyongyang is turned to dust (and the U.S. Army could do that if it wanted to), there remains a risk that a couple of missiles could still reach the U.S. That would be the end for Trump as a president and a politician. The American political elite and American voters would not forgive him for such a massive failure.
On the other hand, if nothing is done, then the image of the U.S., and more importantly Trump’s own image, will suffer.
It turns out that today the entire world is practically watching live as North Korea humiliates and mocks the United States. And as the Americans value their status as a world hegemon, they cannot afford this.
They still haven’t come to their senses after losing in Syria, which has been recognized by even the most patriotic of the American mass media. They still haven’t come to their senses after Vladimir Putin sat down to negotiate with Russia’s eternal enemies Turkey and Iran. And they’re still not shocked by the fact that Turkey and Saudi Arabia buy air defense systems from Russia, which will protect them in the event of an American military intervention.
And against this background, the last thing Trump needs is Kim Jong Un publicly humiliating him.
There’s the impression that there’s a state of panic and confusion in the State Department and the White House. The best they could come up with in response to North Korean aggression was to demand that all countries discontinue all contact with North Korea and deprive Pyongyang of the right to vote in the United Nations.
Furthermore, Washington demands that all of these countries, including Russia, cut off all trade with North Korea and expel all North Korean workers in their countries.
It turns out the State Department has screwed over Trump, because the continuation of this story will hurt the American president. All of the Americans’ demands will be met with statements about where they can put those demands. It’s clear no one will comply with them.
For example, they’ve already responded to the Americans’ grievances in the Duma.** RIA Novosti*** stated that the deputy chairman of the Duma, Yuri Shvytkin, declared that the Russian Federation should not have to uphold the United States’ request to end its relationship with North Korea, and that Moscow should be guided by its own interests in this matter.
“We do not condone the actions of North Korea regarding its missile tests and condemn these launches, but at the same time there must be a rapid response. Only then will peace be reached,” Shvytkin said.
Likewise, China and other countries will have to react as well. It seems that once again the State Department will show how helpless Trump and the United States are at solving this issue.
The Trump administration has only one way out: It needs to somehow convince the leaders of China and Russia – the countries that North Korea can still trade with – to put pressure on the North Koreans.
It’s possible, but only if the Trump administration is ready to sacrifice and offer important concessions on other fronts to China and Russia. Clearly, the White House is not willing to do this, but it needs to.
Trump simply has no other way out. Otherwise, comrade Kim will eventually launch another missile and once again show just how helpless the American president is.
*Translator’s note: This is a reference to the fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”
**Editor’s note: The Duma is the lower legislative house in Russia’s government.
***Editor’s note: RIA Novosti is a Russian language domestic news agency operated by the Russian government.