North Korea fired a ballistic missile into nearby seas on Sunday, drawing a joint rebuke from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Abe, speaking at a briefing with Trump in Florida, said the missile test “can absolutely not be tolerated” and called on North Korea to fully comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions. The launch was the first provocation by North Korea since Trump took office.
“The United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent,” Trump said in brief remarks. Neither Abe nor Trump took questions.
Kim Jong Un’s regime has accelerated North Korea’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons and missiles that can strike the U.S. and its allies in Asia. In response, the U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system known as Thaad in South Korea, a move opposed by China, North Korea’s primary ally.
Naturally and predictably, Donald Trump will get the blame for the North Korean dictatorship’s choice to launch this missile. But North Korea was North Korea long before Donald Trump came to office. And the North Korean Communist dictatorship was coddled, ignored and enabled by both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, who sought “engagement” with North Korea, rather than holding them accountable in any way.
Donald Trump, like the rest of America, has merely inherited that mess.
Nevertheless, how Trump responds to this crisis in coming days, weeks and months will tell you a lot about his administration. Will he come up with something different, something with actual teeth, to hold North Korea accountable? Or will he default to the same engagement or appeasement process that has failed us up to this point, not only with North Korea, but with every other enemy of freedom, including Iran, ISIS, Russia, China and much of the world?
The basic premise of military and foreign policy for a free country is best summed up by the phrase: “Don’t tread on me.” During the Bush years, we lost sight of that premise by acting as if it was our responsibility to make every nation on earth democratic, as if democracy alone were enough to secure liberty and individual rights (look at what happened in Iraq). During the Obama years, we installed in office a president whose loyalty to liberty and individual rights, and the United States itself, was largely in question, given his almost complete refusal to address any military threat with anything other than appeasement, apology and a perpetually bended knee. It’s time for something very, very different from these two approaches, and we’ll soon find out if Donald Trump is able and willing to deliver.
Japan is to the Far East what Israel is to the Middle East. While not a perfect example of a free republic (particularly a free economy), it’s a bastion of freedom compared to the thuggery, Communism and dysfunctional dictatorship surrounding it. If Americans value freedom, they’re right to want Japan to survive in that part of the world. At the same time, Donald Trump has been right to emphasize that Japan should not depend on the United States for all of its military defense. In fact, with the military in such bad shape after years of the Obama administration, it wouldn’t be wise for them to count on us anyway. We’re barely prepared to defend ourselves.
Watch how the media and the Republicrat establishment respond to this crisis with North Korea. They’ll blame Trump for it. But blaming Trump is like blaming the victim. At this stage, he merely inherited the mess. If North Korea continues to launch attacks with incrementally greater strength each time, doesn’t that suggest it’s only a matter of time before that nation’s government does something really toxic and destructive? And if and when it does, doesn’t that make North Korea’s government the enemy – not Donald Trump or any other Americans who still support a strong American military force for self-defense? Moreover, North Korea has been at this for decades. Why was nothing done to address it before now?
The weaker we get, the stronger that villainous dictators become. It’s not because dictators are really all that strong, at least when faced with principled and liberty-loving, life-loving people. It’s only because the countries (like the United States) with strong doses of freedom and liberty ignore, negotiate with, make deals with and otherwise enable terrorizing thugs at their own peril.
North Korea is a symptom of an ongoing bipartisan failure to confront a problem head-on and do something about it. Whatever “do something” might mean, it certainly cannot mean bribing North Korean thugs with more gifts, goodies and subsidies in exchange for never-honored “agreements” not to attack Japan or, ultimately, the West Coast of the United States with nuclear missiles or worse.
It’s just one more reminder that advocates of freedom and liberty have to stop blaming themselves. Because when you constantly blame yourself, as our last America-hating President did with the United States, you’re blaming the victim. In the process, you’re making the world safer for thugs and dictators, even the otherwise impotent kind who dominate North Korea. Remember that dictators, especially Communist ones, only get by on the starvation of their victims at home and the wobbly weakness of their opponents in freer countries.
One cannot help but note the irony, either. The Western coast of the United States – primarily California – consists of more Trump hatred than just about any other part of the country. Many Californians wish to secede from the United States altogether, under a Trump administration. Yet they’re now dependent on Trump’s administration to keep them out of harm’s way. Because sooner or later, on the course we have enabled for decades, North Korea will manage to build something that goes well beyond the Sea of Japan. Obama’s and Bush’s prior “deals” with that dictatorship will not save them.
Follow Dr. Hurd on Facebook. Search under “Michael Hurd” (Rehoboth Beach DE). Get up-to-the-minute postings, recommended articles and links, and engage in back-and-forth discussion with Dr. Hurd on topics of interest. Also follow Dr. Hurd on Twitter at @MichaelJHurd1