Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Best Cash ISA Savings Account for Soaring UK Inflation - February 2018 - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Gold Price Forecast 2018 - February Update - Nadeem_Walayat
3.Bitcoin Crypto Currencies Crash 2018, Are We Near the Bottom? - Nadeem_Walayat
4.Trump Bubble Bursts, Stock Market Panic Dow 1175 Point Crash Analysis - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Gold Corrects, Bitcoin Markets Crash, Whilst Stocks Plunge - Nadeem_Walayat
6.US Treasury Bonds: Fuse to Light the Bonfire - Jim_Willie_CB
7.Dow Falls 666 Points As Cryptocurrencies Crash And Krugman Emerges From His Van - Jeff_Berwick
8.Stock Market Roller Coaster Crash Ride Down to Dow Forecast 23,000 - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Trading the Shadows - Oil, Dollar, Stocks, Gold Trend Analysis - B.R. Hollister
10.Stock Market Analysis: Baying for Blood - Abalgorithm
Last 7 days
World Stock Market Indices: What Will Happen in 2020 – 2022 - 25th Feb 18
Will We See A Cryptocurrency Wipeout This 2018? - 25th Feb 18
Stock Market Volatility Attributed to 'Shenanigans' - 24th Feb 18
Reintroducing The Concept Of Stock Market Investing Risk - 24th Feb 18
How Global Growth and Infrastructure are Driving Commodities - 24th Feb 18
Tips to Get Financing for a New Business - 24th Feb 18
Heavy Police Presence at Resumption of Sheffield Street Tree Fellings Protests - 24th Feb 18
Why You Should NOT Sub4Sub Free Youtube Subscribers - YTpals, Subpals, SubmeNow Test Results - 23rd Feb 18
One Belt, One Road, One Direction for Precious Metals - 23rd Feb 18
Gold’s Curious Sentiment - 23rd Feb 18
Relationship Between Crude Oil and U.S. Dollar in February 2018 - 23rd Feb 18
Why The Next Oil Boom Will Be Fueled By Blockchain - 23rd Feb 18
Gold Bull and Bear Markets - 23rd Feb 18
Why Recent Lows Are Crucial for US Dollar - 23rd Feb 18
Will Bitcoin be Larger Than NEO in 2018? - 23rd Feb 18
Stock Market SPX Probable Pop-n-drop - 22nd Feb 18
Stocks Fail to Hold Gains, But Still No Correction - 22nd Feb 18
Why We Should Buy Essay - 22nd Feb 18
The Latest US Debt Blow - 22nd Feb 18
6 Tips For Seamless Business Foreign Exchange - 22nd Feb 18
How to Anticipate Stock Market Trend Changes - 21st Feb 18
Gold Miners’ Rally? What Rally? Watch Out for More Fake Moves! - 21st Feb 18
5 Big Drivers of Higher Inflation Rates Ahead - 21st Feb 18
Goofy Indictments Divert Attention from Criminal Abuses at the FBI and DOJ - 21st Feb 18
Bitcoin or British Pound ‘Pretty Much Failed’ As Currency? - 21st Feb 18
Stock Market Waiting for the Fed - 21st Feb 18
National Identity Demands Restrictive Immigration - 21st Feb 18
Best Opportunities for Freelance Technical Writing Jobs - 21st Feb 18
4% US 10-year Treasury Note Yield Will Be a Floor Not a Ceiling - 20th Feb 18
Governments Are LYING about Their Gold Activities while Mining Companies Cower - 20th Feb 18
No Silver Lining Here - 20th Feb 18
Semi Conductor Stocks SEMI Bearish? - 20th Feb 18
The Prisoner Promised Land - 20th Feb 18
Best Car Dash Cam Review: Z-Edge S3 Dual Dash Cam - UNBOXING (1) - 20th Feb 18
How Inflation Reduces The Real Value Of Social Security Net Of Medicare Premiums - 19th Feb 18
Could Stellar Lumens be a Challenger to Bitcoin for International Payments? - 19th Feb 18
US-China Trade War Escalates As Further Measures Are Taken - 19th Feb 18
How To Trade Gold Stocks with Momentum - 19th Feb 18
Is a New Gold Bull Market on the Horizon? - 19th Feb 18
Stock Market Decision Point! - 19th Feb 18
An Inflation Indicator to Watch, Part 1 - 18th Feb 18
Get on Top Of Debt Before It Gets on Top of You - 18th Feb 18
Will the Stock Market Make a Double Bottom? - 18th Feb 18
5 Reasons Why Commodities Are the Investment Place to be in 2018 - 18th Feb 18
1 Week Later, Stock, Bond Market Risk Remains ‘On’ as 2 of 3 Amigos Ride On - 17th Feb 18
Crude Oil Prices: A Case of Dueling Narratives? - 17th Feb 18
Free 1000 Youtube Subscribers Services - YTpals, Subpals, SubmeNow Test - 17th Feb 18

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Urgent Stock Market Message

Trump’s Decision On North Korea Will Define His Administration

Politics / North Korea Aug 28, 2017 - 08:45 PM GMT

By: John_Mauldin

Politics

BY GEORGE FRIEDMAN AND JACOB L. SHAPIRO : Most US presidencies are defined by their foreign policies, and most foreign policies are defined by wars—those that were fought and those that weren’t.

The biggest decision an American president faces is whether to send the nation’s soldiers into certain danger to protect and defend the national interest.


Donald Trump is coming to that point with North Korea. And his decision will define his presidency more than any of his infamous tweets or off-the-cuff remarks.

Mixed US Messages

The US has been sending mixed messages for months now.

It briefly stationed three carrier battle groups within striking distance of the Korean Peninsula, before relocating them. One minute, the president is threatening to bring fire and fury to Pyongyang. The next minute, the US secretary of defense is saying diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the situation are working.

This cannot go on indefinitely.

Eventually, the United States’ inaction will turn into a decision not to strike. Rarely are decisions such as this black and white, but if the administration believes its own intelligence, it has a fairly stark choice: accept a nuclear North Korea and the attendant consequences, or attack North Korea and accept the attendant consequences.

Trump has sought to differentiate himself from Obama, but ironically, he finds himself in a situation similar to that of his predecessor—except with much higher stakes.

In August 2012, as the civil war in Syria was escalating, Obama said the US would see any use of chemical weapons by the Bashar Assad regime as crossing a red line. There was no “fire and fury” in Obama’s comments, but his statement set up a situation in which Obama either had to act on the threat or back off.

A year later, the Assad regime used chemical weapons—and Obama backed off. It damaged US credibility in the world and made Obama look like a president who wouldn’t follow through on a threat.

It was one of those moments when words made a difference.

It changed the perception of the global superpower in the eyes of others who might seek to challenge it. And in the two years that followed, Russia annexed Crimea, and the Islamic State became a formidable force in the Middle East. These events may not have been a direct result of Obama’s inaction, but it is without doubt that many took notice.

High Stakes

The US is inching perilously close to such a moment again.

Both sides have issued threats, and while there remains a sliver of hope for a diplomatic solution, they still have imperatives so diametrically opposed that it is hard to imagine either side will capitulate.

And so the question is, now that Trump has threatened to destroy North Korea if it continues its nuclear program, will the US speak loudly and carry a big stick, or just speak loudly?

A North Korea with nuclear weapons is dangerous—but so is a nuclear-armed Pakistan and India, and the US didn’t stop them (or a host of other nations) from attaining nuclear weapons.

North Korea wants nukes as a deterrent to ensure its survival, but using them would ensure its annihilation. The chances, therefore, that Pyongyang will use nukes are very slim. But when losing means the devastation of Los Angeles or Seattle, even betting on long odds is dangerous.

Having staked this much on the North Korea issue, the US risks being seen as weak if its threats turn out to be empty. That may seem like a hollow concern, especially in a world where the US is without peer in terms of its power… but it does have would-be peers.

China’s Interests

China still faces many internal issues, but it also has significant long-term ambitions, and the US is standing in its way.

There is already a sense in China that Trump is a “paper tiger” whose threats carry little meaning, and failing to follow through on North Korea would do much to solidify that opinion and embolden Beijing.

And should Trump’s threats turn out to have some teeth, China might even benefit if the US, which is seen as an imperial power in most of Asia, initiates another war on the Korean Peninsula.

What China (and especially President Xi Jinping’s government) needs most—more than control over the South China Sea or a policy to spread wealth equally among disparate social classes in China—is a way to hold Chinese society together through the economic and demographic challenges that are coming its way.

Chinese nationalism is a powerful adhesive, and a formidable and looming enemy in the form of the US would make it that much stronger. It is often assumed China wouldn’t risk conflict with the US because it can’t beat the US, but perhaps China doesn’t need to win so much as it needs unity. And perhaps a limited conflict with the US—even if China looks weak in the immediate term—is not such a bad outcome.

The Lesser of Two Evils

The Korean War ultimately wasn’t about Korea; it was about great powers needing to fight battles in faraway places to show how powerful they are. That hasn’t changed.

The US has a decision to make, and then China, Japan, and Russia will also have decisions to make. Koreans on both sides of the DMZ will bear the costs of those decisions once more.

The next step, however, in this unfolding drama is for the US to decide which is the lesser of two evils: a nuclear North Korea or another land war in Asia.

That choice will define how this administration is remembered far more than the political melodrama polluting our airwaves daily.

Grab George Friedman's Exclusive eBook, The World Explained in Maps

 The World Explained in Maps reveals the panorama of geopolitical landscapes influencing today's governments and global financial systems. Don't miss this chance to prepare for the year ahead with the straight facts about every major country’s and region's current geopolitical climate. You won't find political rhetoric or media hype here.

The World Explained in Maps is an essential guide for every investor as 2017 takes shape. Get your copy now—free!

John Mauldin Archive

© 2005-2018 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules