- - Thursday, June 29, 2017


We are coming to the endgame in North Korea. The only question is what the final moves will be.

President Trump has made it very clear that China has not been effective in curbing Kim Jong-un’s rogue regime. Mr. Trump made a big show at Mar-a-Lago and in subsequent meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping of giving Beijing the space to solve the situation and show the world that America was leaving no stone uncovered in the quest to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

That effort has failed. Pyongyang is aggressive as ever, launching ballistic missiles, threatening another nuclear test and killing American college kids.

The Trump administration is moving to the next phase. Now there is talk about erecting trade barriers against China, including tariffs and other measures. America has a great deal of clout here. The U.S. economy is deep and resilient and has been held back by the Obama administration for a decade.

Mr. Trump’s deregulatory drive, the focus on creating a business-friendly climate and the push to make America the global energy leader will do nothing but fuel a new wave of prosperity. The pendulum is on the upswing, having just avoided the Obama/Hillary socialist nightmare. In other words, we have not yet begun to fight.

On the other had, China is one massive bubble. Bubbles in the equity markets, bubbles in the credit markets, and bubbles in housing as empty cities are being built in order to keep a billion Chinese rural workers happy — all pose great risk for the Middle Kingdom. In short, China has to keep making and keep selling. We are their end market. Tariffs scare the living daylights out of the Communist leadership in Beijing. China is a house of cards and — pardon the pun — America holds the Trump card.

On the military front, Washington is putting forces in place to deal with the threat. The United States simply cannot allow North Korea to have the capability to threaten North America with a ballistic missile, no matter the cost. Mr. Trump is the first president in decades to look at threats to the republic in the eye. He is also the first president in decades to really deal with the situation. Great men do great things.

Yes, a war with North Korea would be catastrophic. However, so would a nuclear strike on Los Angeles. Here I’m having a mental image of the hippies on top of the skyscraper in the movie “Independence Day” as the alien trains the laser beam, seconds away from vaporizing the dope-smoking groupies.

The $64,000 question is, “What would China and Russia do if the U.S. took action against Kim Jong-un?” China may be persuaded to look the other way. North Korea is a problem for them as well, a problem they would like solved.

However, North Korea was started by Stalin’s Soviet Union. I’m not sure Russian President Vladimir Putin could look the other way. Success for Mr. Trump on the Korean peninsula would make Mr. Putin look weak. North Korea is a useful idiot for Russia, keeping the American military engaged and not focused on Moscow’s other military moves, a useful irritant to Washington.

And this leads to American policy in Syria. Mr. Trump has shot down Syrian aircraft, lobbed missiles at Russia-occupied airfields, and threatened the Bashar Assad regime on additional chemical weapons use. In other words, Mr. Trump is already confronting Russia. He will not allow American security to be compromised, not in Syria, or North Korea. He is forcing Mr. Putin to recalibrate his assessment of American power after the incompetent, weak Obama years. Mr. Trump is telling Mr. Putin in non-verbal cues what he has already told the world publicly — deal with the North Korean problem — or America will.

L. Todd Wood is a former special operations helicopter pilot and Wall Street debt trader, and has contributed to Fox Business, The Moscow Times, National Review, the New York Post and many other publications. He can be reached through his website, LToddWood.com.

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