For all the teeth-gnashing over Donald Trump’s threat of impending “fire and fury” if North Korea goes through with its own threat to launch a nuclear missile headed for the U.S. and the insistence that tough sanctions were a better deterrent, North Korea’s diminutive tyrant, Kim Jong-un, has blinked.
Yesterday, Kim issued a statement announcing his decision not to launch missiles toward Guam, momentarily easing the tensions that have been building the last few weeks. Of course, the despot tried to save face with a statement. According to state-owned media:
He said that if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean peninsula and in its vicinity, testing the self-restraint of the DPRK, the latter will make an important decision as it already declared.
On Monday Kim with his military leadership to examine his announced plan to fire four missiles into the ocean in the vicinity of Guam. Based on recent statements by President Trump and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, the Kim’s generals probably explained to the sanity-challenged leader that these guys really mean business.
Mattis kept the pressure up on the North Koreans Monday, telling the press:
If they fire at the United States it could escalate into war very quickly. … That’s called war if they shoot at us. … You don’t shoot at people in this world unless you want to bear the consequences.
President Trump’s tough stance on North Korea is markedly different from that of previous administrations, which preferred to appease rather than confront. For that stance, the president was ridiculed by the media, the Democrats, and — sadly — some in his own party. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer attacked the president’s “reckless rhetoric,” and Sen. Dianne Feinstein warned against Trump’s “bombastic comments.”
The president’s pressure on China has also served to motivate its president, Xi Jinping, to get on board with reining in Kim Jong-un. On Monday China’s Commerce Ministry announced a ban on imports of iron ore, iron, lead, and coal from North Korea effective Tuesday. Also on Monday, in a move to increase pressure, the POTUS authorized the U.S. trade representative to investigate whether China is stealing U.S. intellectual property, a move that the “party before country” Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer called “weaker action than anyone could ever imagine.”
Cross posted at The Lid