For the last 15 years, presidential administrations have allowed North Korea to out-scheme the United States through its pursuit of nuclear weapons. With the Trump administration, it seems we are finally making progress where all other presidents have failed.
Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all allowed the North Korean nuclear problem to grow into what it is today.
Clinton gave the North Koreans oil in exchange that the country would freeze its nuclear programs. North Korea, however, secretly restarted its program shortly after.
During Bush’s presidency, he labeled North Korea a member of the “axis of evil” and imposed harsh sanctions. But as the Bush administration waited for these sanctions to take a toll, the North Koreans developed a nuclear weapon.
Lastly, Obama stuck to his policy of “strategic patience,” in which the administration hoped that North Korea would come to the U.S. to negotiate, despite four nuclear and several missile tests during his tenure as reported by CBS .
Time and time again the U.S. has made little to no progress in handling North Korean nuclear proliferation.
During President Donald Trump’s short tenure, we have already seen strong action. Trump has convinced China, the North’s number one trading partner, to order the closing of all of its businesses in North Korea, according to Fox News. This international coalition of opposition to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions is something never achieved before.
China is key to the current president’s vision of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula because of its unrivalled connections to the regime. China accounts for 90 percent of North Korean trade, according to Council on Foreign Relations, and the two are geographic neighbors.
War on the peninsula would likely mean the presence of a vast number of American troops at China’s border and would cause a significant number of refugees to cross into China. Trump has sought and received more help from China in persuading North Korea to cease its nuclear ambitions, according to Fox News.
Much of the critique of the president’s handling of the North Korean threat has been directed at his colorful language in reference to the regime. After Trump asserted that if forced to defend itself the U.S. would “… have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” according to the White House Press Office. The statement was met with wide condemnation. In reality, his remarks are not that out of line with what former presidents have said.
Obama said that the U.S. could, “… destroy North Korea with our arsenals,” according to The Telegraph. Additionally, Clinton stated that if North Korea attacked the U.S., the country would “pay a price so great that the nation would not survive as it is known today,” according to the Washington Examiner. Trump’s statement only reiterates what former presidents have been making clear for decades—the U.S. can and will obliterate North Korea if it were to strike the U.S. or its allies. Trump emphasizes the retaliatory capabilities of the U.S. military.
Trump is succeeding where others have failed. When he makes a statement, he means it, and more importantly, Kim Jong-un knows he means it. After the North Korean’s threatened the U.S. territory Guam, Trump said that if they followed through with this they, “… will be met with fire, fury, and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before,” according to the Daily Wire. Shortly after this statement, the North Koreans rescinded their threat to Guam, according to Metro.
It is clear that Trump’s approach to North Korea is creating the results the U.S. desires and he has chosen the best route to the denuclearization of the dangerous and belligerent North Korean regime.