Yet the Trump administration is using all elements of power in a coordinated effort to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.
Start with the D for Diplomacy. The U.S. has forged a solid alliance committed to Korean denuclearization. The U.S., Japan, South Korea and Australia are the principle front line nations, but western European nations and key members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) add economic and political weight. India is in the background. China is the man in middle, and it knows India is in the background.
All of the east and southeast Asian nations have a common security interest in denuclearization: They are already in range of North Korean missiles.
U.S. diplomats have also succeeded in getting the UN to impose harsh economic and political sanctions on North Korea.
I for Information began in earnest with Tillerson’s declaration that the era of strategic patience with the Kim regime is over. Trump’s threats of fury and fire mock Kim Jong-un. Yes, Trump outraged the pearl-clutchers in the American foreign policy establishment. American presidents aren’t supposed to talk like that!
Except they do. Take Harry Truman for example.
The theater of threat is a key element in North Korea’s intimidation and extortion routine. Trump’s fiery threat pushed Kim Jong-un off center stage. Now Trump has the rhetorical threat initiative, not the fat kid.
Trump also has a track record for following through on a threat. In April, he punished Syrian President Bashir al-Assad for using chemical weapons. Trump isn’t seeking a legacy like Bill Clinton; he isn’t bogged down in Iraq like George Bush; and he isn’t a faculty lounge poseur like Barack Obama touting red lines then failing to back words with deeds. Trump has demonstrated that he will act. That’s important information from the bad cop.