Today North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that stayed airborne for close to an hour and flew farther than any previously tested by that country. Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters that the Kim regime now has the ability to to hit “everywhere in the world basically.” And, of course, the regime has nuclear weapons.
The US believes Pyongyang may be able to put a miniaturized warhead on a missile sometime in 2018 — giving it the theoretical capability to launch a missile with a warhead atop that could attack the US.
President Trump inherited the North Korea mess. He told reporters today that North Korea “is a situation that we will handle.” I sincerely hope so, but I have no idea how. Is there any practical way to threaten Kim’s nuclear capability without endangering the 10 million people who live in Seoul, just 35 miles from the border with North Korea? Again, I have no idea.
The North Korea problem has been brewing for a long time. In 1994, the Clinton administration agreed to provide two nuclear reactors and deliver heavy fuel oil to North Korea in exchange for the country giving up its nuclear weapons program. The reactors were never built, but Kim nevertheless snookered Clinton, as North Korea accelerated rather than giving up its nuclear program.
Subsequently, American administrations have kicked the Korean can down the road. Most blameworthy was Barack Obama. Just a few months into Obama’s administration, the North Koreans detonated a series of nuclear devices. President Obama responded with a policy of “strategic patience,” a euphemism for doing nothing and hoping that disaster wouldn’t strike until he was out of office. This was classic Obama: as the increasingly insane North Korean regime drew ever closer to an offensive nuclear capability, he did nothing. Now President Trump is stuck holding the bag.
Millions of lives could be lost because of this feckless history. Meanwhile, our news media have mostly ignored the North Korea issue, preferring to obsess on Roy Moore’s purported 40-year-old failings, whether Press Secretary Sarah Sanders baked a Thanksgiving pie, Al Franken’s tortured meditations on how easy it is to grasp a woman’s bottom by accident, and so on. Will our inept reporters and editors ever bestir themselves to report on how Barack Obama and, to a lesser extent, his predecessors allowed the Kim regime to become such a threat to millions of human lives?
That’s a rhetorical question, of course. They certainly won’t do so if it would reflect badly on their party. Which it would. So don’t hold your breath, and pray that President Trump and his aides will find a way out of the mess that his predecessors helped to create.