There’s no threat quite like an empty threat

From The Wall Street Journal:

Pence Warns North Korea Not to Test Trump

In visit to demilitarized zone, Pence calls U.S. alliance with South Korea ironclad

By Jonathan Cheng | April 17, 2017 3:26 a.m. ET

SEOUL—U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea not to test President Donald Trump, calling the recent American military strikes on Syria and Afghanistan an example of Washington’s strength.

“North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States,” Mr. Pence said Monday after he visited the demilitarized zone that divides the Korean Peninsula.

Speaking alongside South Korea’s acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn, Mr. Pence said his unannounced visit to the DMZ underscored the message of resolve that he was bringing to the region.

“America has always sought peace through strength,” he said earlier in the day according to a pool report, warning North Korea that its military “should not mistake the resolve of the United States of America to stand with our allies.”

There’s more at the original.

OK, and just what is the United States going to do if the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea does “test (President Trump’s) resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States?” We have applied so many economic sanctions on North Korea that there just aren’t many more which can be used. And, throughout the continued application of those sanctions, the DPRK has just blustered and fussed, but in reality just laughed at them. It’s a simple truth: ‘Supreme Leader’ Kim Jong-un doesn’t care if his subjects have to live even more poorly than they do now, and those subjects have lived poorer than they do today during the 2010 food crisis,1 as well as one in 2016. President Trump’s only remaining options are military ones; is he going to give an order to bomb nuclear-armed North Korea, when Seoul is only 35 miles away?

North Korea’s foreign policy has been consistent for many years: whenever the leadership wants attention, it tests a nuclear weapon or ballistic missile, and gets the West to wax wroth, but still do nothing. The West, led by the United States, blusters and fusses, moves around ships and airplanes, but doesn’t take any action against the DPRK, because there no longer is any action other than military which could be taken.

At this point, the wiser course is to simply ignore North Korea’s provocation attempts. Kim Jong-un simply wants attention, like an (unfortunately nuclear-armed) six-year-old, but there’s no reason to give it to him.

  1. Kim Jong-il was still alive and in power in 2010, and he was no more concerned than Wonsu Kim Jong-un has been subsequently.