Trump Promises “Something” About North Korea

Yonhap News/Newscom via ZUMA

Fresh from the adoring, bused-in crowds that greeted him on his arrival in Poland, our president had some things to say about North Korea today:

In Warsaw, Trump said the United States was considering “some pretty severe things” in response to what he called “very, very bad behavior” from the North, although he did not mention any specific plans. “Something will have to be done about it,” he said.

“Something.” Would you care to offer a comment above a sixth-grade level, Mr. President? No? Roger that.

There aren’t a whole lot of options when it comes to North Korea. We can tick them off in a few moments:

  • Sanctions. Go whole hog on economic sanctions. This is the most likely possibility, but the problem is that about 85 percent of North Korea’s trade is with China. We could kill off the rest of the world’s trade and it wouldn’t make much difference. So China is it, and there’s a limit to the kind of sanctions we want to levy against China. They can fight back, after all.
  • Nuclear attack. Destroy North Korea’s nuclear capability and its conventional retaliatory capability against Seoul. There’s no way to do this quickly except via nuclear weapons. So this amounts to dropping several nuclear bombs on North Korea.

Am I missing anything? A blockade accomplishes nothing since most trade is overland with China. A conventional attack would result in thousands or millions of South Korean—and maybe Japanese—casualties. A diplomatic solution is unlikely in the extreme. North Korea is convinced—not without reason—that its nuclear weapons are the only sure protection against an American attack. And Chinese cooperation seems pretty unlikely short of convincing them that a nuclear attack is imminent unless they cut off North Korea entirely.

This is how I view it, anyway. We either launch a nuclear attack against North Korea or else their bomb and missile program is going to continue. Tell me why I’m wrong.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.