Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America shake their heads as Democrats win another high-profile special election. By itself, it may not mean much, but Democrats have won a string of races where Republicans were expected to be competitive or heavily favored. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is openly concerned about a “Blue Wave” in 2018 and Jim and Greg discuss why he’s right to sound the alarm. They also sigh as the Trump administration and China swap tariffs, leading to stock market drops and higher prices. And they shake their heads as the media go wall-to-wall with coverage of the shootings at You Tube headquarters, only to drop the story when the shooter does not fit the media stereotype of a mass shooter.
A leading expert on the North Korean nuclear threat says President Trump’s condemnation of the communist regime through powerful stories also served as an American declaration that it’s time for a regime change in Pyongyang, but warned that military action would be a big mistake.
During Tuesday evening’s, State of the Union address, Trump focused his final foreign policy item at the nuclear threat posed by North Korea and punctuated it by telling two gripping stories
First, he recounted the story of American college student Otto Warmbier, who was sentenced to 15 years hard labor for stealing a political poster and was returned to the U.S. in coma last year. Warmbier died days later. His grieving parents were in the gallery for the speech.
Next, Trump detailed the harrowing account of North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho, who was also present for the speech.
“In 1996, Seong-ho was a starving boy in North Korea. One day, he tried to steal coal from a railroad car to barter for a few scraps of food. In the process, he passed out on the train tracks, exhausted from hunger. He woke up as a train ran over his limbs.
“He then endured multiple amputations without anything to dull the pain. His brother and sister gave what little food they had to help him recover and ate dirt themselves — permanently stunting their own growth,” said Trump.
He then fast-forwarded to Ji’s courageous escape from North Korea.
“Later, he was tortured by North Korean authorities after returning from a brief visit to China. His tormentors wanted to know if he had met any Christians. He had — and he resolved to be free. Seong-ho traveled thousands of miles on crutches across China and Southeast Asia to freedom. Most of his family followed. His father was caught trying to escape, and was tortured to death.
“Today he lives in Seoul, where he rescues other defectors, and broadcasts into North Korea what the regime fears the most ‑- the truth. Today he has a new leg, but Seong-ho, I understand you still keep those crutches as a reminder of how far you have come. Your great sacrifice is an inspiration to us all,” said Trump.
According to North Korea expert Gordon Chang, Trump was not just exposing the horrors of the Kim Jong-un regime but declaring it is unacceptable for Kim to remain in power.
“What President Trump did last night was really landmark. He made the case for regime change in North Korea. Of course he talked about the threat to the American homeland, but he linked that back to the nature of the Kim family regime.
“He did that by telling those two stories, the one of brutality towards Otto Warmbier and the other of the triumph of the human spirit, which is the escapee Ji Seing-ho. That really was, for me, the most inspirational moment of the night, when Ji held up his crutches in his right hand in a signal of victory,” said Chang, who is also author of “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World.”
“That was just so important, because what President Trump is saying is, ‘This is the regime that is threatening us,'” said Chang.
While the precise timetable is unknown, Chang says North Korea is getting closer and closer to its ultimate goal.
“The ambition for them now, as it was from the very first day of North Korea, is to take over South Korea. That is the core goal of the Kim family and is considered by the Kims to be essential for their own survival. You’ve got two Koreas, one rich and one poor and side-by-side of course and the people in the poor Korea are not going to put up with this forever,” said Chang.
“If the Kim family can’t do that, poor North Koreans are not going to sacrifice indefinitely,” added Chang.
But if Kim is inching closer to attacking South Korea and regime change is required, what is the best way to achieve that? Chang says Trump is off to a good start by going after the money.
“From the beginning, the Trump administration has tried to cut off the flow of money to North Korea. We’ve seen this for example in his landmark Sept. 21st executive order, which said if you do business with North Korea or you handle their money, you’re not doing business with the United States. That’s important.
“Also, last year the Trump administration pushed through three sets of UN sanctions. That’s a very sound policy,” said Chang.
Trump also got the Chinese to make promises to clamp down financially on Kim as well. But Chang says the commitment from Beijing is still inconsistent.
“They’re getting more serious, but they’re also violating UN sanctions. They’ve been doing that almost openly since October. We’ve seen these ship-to-ship transfers of oil. Also, North Korean ships that are under sanctions, in other words are not allowed to visit ports outside North Korea, they’ve been turning on their transponders in Chinese ports.
“When all of this activity occurs, with China smuggling commodities in and out of North Korea, it also means that Chinese financial institutions are almost surely involved. It’s up to the Trump administration to hold China accountable. It signaled that it would do that, but it really has yet to apply the full weight of American pressure to protect the American people,” said Chang.
Chang says if China was truly serious about defusing the North Korean threat, it would be acting much differently.
“They would cut off all financial transactions with North Korea. The Chinese banks would get out of the business of handling North Korean money. Also, we would see China not buying and selling commodities that are prohibited by UN sanctions. We would basically see an end to commerce between North Korea and China,” said Chang.
But while Chang and most in the Trump administration prefer to tighten the economic screws on North Korea, there are people calling for more aggressive actions.
“There are voices in the administration that are thinking that this is not a time for sanctions, this is a time to strike North Korea. That is something where I think the administration has not decided on what to do,” said Chang, who strongly discourages that course.
“I think it would be an exceedingly bad idea, but right now there are a lot of voices (advocating military action). This is where the contention is, both inside the administration and outside the administration,” he said.
Chang also hopes the State of the Union message puts an end to the efforts of some Trump critics to suggest Trump and Kim are on a similar level of malevolence and instability.
“I’ve never bought that narrative. That is really a false equivalence. President Trump is trying to contain the Kim family. The Kim family has been a threat, not only to the United States, but to the rest of the international community well before Trump became president,” said Chang.
“North Korea did not become instantly dangerous on January 20th at noon of last year. This is a problem for the entire planet, and Trump is doing his best on a very dangerous situation,” added Chang.
Next week, the Winter Olympics will commence in South Korea. In recent weeks, leaders from north and south have agreed to cooperate on some aspects of the games, including having their athletes march in to the opening ceremony together and have a joint women’s hockey team.
Chang says the cooperation has some positive elements, but fears the South Koreans are doing too much to accommodate the regime that wants to conquer them.
“South Korea should not be paying for North Korea’s team, which it is doing. And there are a lot of these inter-Korean Olympic projects, which look like violations of UN sanctions. The U.S., for a variety of reasons, has allowed this to continue, but the South Korean public is starting to rebel against this jointness, especially this joint women’s ice hockey team.
“South Korean athletes have been turfed off their own team to make way for the North Koreans. That’s played very poorly in South Korea,” said Chang.
Nonetheless, he still hopes some good comes from this moment on the world stage..
“I’m happy to have the North Koreans participate in the Olympics. It gives an opportunity for them to see the outside world and to defect,” said Chang.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton is cheering President Trump for a strong address to the United Nations this week and for perhaps already reaping critical results in his effort to isolate North Korea.
On Thursday, Trump announced a new round of U.S. sanctions aimed at North Korea and also reported that China is vowing to deal a major financial blow to the communist regime in Pyongyang.
“Today I’m announcing a new executive order I just signed that significantly expands our authorities to target individuals, companies, financial institutions that finance and facilitate trade with North Korea,” said Trump.
Bolton says this could be a very significant move.
“It’s potentially significant because if we were to sanction companies or banks doing business with North Korea, that could have a knock-on effect to other countries doing the same and could effect their ability to do transactions in the United States,” said Bolton.
He says it leaves those banks and corporations with a stark choice.
“Do you want to do business with us or do you want to do business with North Korea? Your choice entirely, but it’s going to be one or the other,” said Bolton.
Bolton likes the aggressive nature of the sanctions.
“Why didn’t we do this about eight or ten years ago? Why is it that we’ve waited this long? I think we have the answer. I think President Trump is determined to do something about North Korea and Iran and their nuclear programs,” said Bolton.
Bolton served as ambassador to the United Nations for President George W. Bush. So why didn’t these sanctions come then?
“There was a lot of discussion in the Bush administration about sanctions but (there was) a lot of opposition to really squeezing North Korea. Ultimately, I don’t think we did really anywhere near what we could have,” said Bolton.
He says there was virtually no chance for stiff penalties in the Obama years.
“There was no appetite for sanctions against North Korea. They were exercising what they called ‘strategic patience’ in the Obama administration. That’s a synonym for doing nothing and the North Koreans took advantage of it,” said Bolton.
Just as importantly, Bolton says the new sanctions turn the screws on China as well.
“The vast bulk of the institutions doing business with North Korea – financial, commodities, machinery, you name it – are Chinese. China, for 25 years, frankly, has two-timed us on their concern about the North Korean nuclear program. So this gives the president some bite,” said Bolton.
That may have already paid off Thursday, as, Trump announced news that seemed to surprise even him, as China appears ready to play hardball with Kim Jong-Un as well.
“China, their central bank has told other banks – and it’s a massive banking system – to immediately stop doing business with North Korea,” said Trump.
Bolton says if China is serious about taking this step it could have a huge impact on North Korea. However, he says it is very tough to determine if China is making good on such a policy.
“I think that’s difficult from the outside. God knows how many banks there are and how many new banks can be created that might be able to facilitate North Korean trade, for example with Iran,” said Bolton.
Trump made major headlines with his blunt talk about North Korea in his speech on Tuesday.
“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary,” said Trump.
Bolton says Trump struck exactly the right tone.
“I thought it was entirely appropriate. Some of these people who talk about what’s becoming or unbecoming to say at the UN. Honestly, the United Nations is not a church. You’re not supposed to be reverential towards threats to international peace and security and innocent American civilians,” said Bolton, who thought the Trump approach was refreshing after the past eight years.
“After eight years of global governance kind of rhetoric from Obama and the weakness that he projected, maybe some people are shocked when they hear what a real American president has to say. All in all, I think it’s the right thing for the president to do. In America, plain speaking is a virtue and it’s important that these other countries hear it,” said Bolton.
Bolton also lauded Trump for labeling the Iran nuclear deal an “embarrassment” and “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.” He says that puts the onus on Trump to get out of the deal soon.
“If you don’t certify but stay in the deal that you’ve described already as embarrassing, I think that’s unpresidential. It’s sort of a one shoe on, one shoe off foreign policy. He needs to lead with moral and political clarity. I think the way you do that is to say this deal is a disaster for the United States and its friends and allies and we’re getting out of it,” said Bolton.
The Three Martini Lunch is on vacation for the week and will return on Monday, September 11. Please enjoy this encore presentation of a recent podcast.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer UN Ambassador Nikki Haley in her firm-handed approach to the security threat posed by North Korea, specifically regarding China’s refusal to cooperate with UN resolutions against the isolated nation. They also express frustration with national media over their lack of coverage of Rep. Steve Scalise’s condition as he returns to the ICU. Finally, they highlight that most of those protesting Trump’s presidency are among the most wealthy in the DC area.
While the media and former Obama administration officials wring their hands over President Trump’s tough talk on North Korea, retired Navy Captain Chuck Nash says the president is not only charting the right policy but is already reaping results from it.
Nash is also blasting the Obama administration for it’s handling of the North Korean threat in recent years and it’s “insane” recommendations now.
Trump roiled the political establishment by promising “fire and fury” in response to any acts of North Korean aggression against the U.S. or our interests. His comments came in the wake of revelations that North Korea has miniature nuclear weapons that can be placed inside missiles.
On Thursday, Trump waved off suggestions that his remarks were too incendiary and even suggested they hadn’t gone far enough. But while critics on both sides of the aisle worried that his words were “reckless” and could trigger horrific actions from North Korea, Nash says Trump is playing this exactly right.
“The administration is taking the exact right messaging tone, which is not just to Kim Jong-Un. That message is to Russia and specifically to China. And this president is saying, ‘Look, if that guy does anything to make me itch, you’re not going to like it because we’re going to do something,'” said Nash.
And Nash says it’s clear China already got the message. On Thursday, the Chinese announced they would stay neutral in any conflict between the U.S. and North Korea unless the U.S. struck first.
“It’s clear that it’s working because the Chinese just backed off by telling the North Koreans, ‘If you do something stupid, you’re going to get the results and we’re not going to stand up for you,” said Nash.
Nash is pleased to see Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Defense Secretary James Mattis staying on message. He says everyone underneath them needs to stay on script as well.
“The last thing that the United States needs now is for anybody to break ranks and, as [former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher] said to George Bush, ‘This is no time to go wobbly.’ We don’t need that right now. Too much political capital is on the line here,” said Nash.
Nash points to a Washington Post story this week revealing the U.S. knew North Korea had deployable miniature nukes four years ago. But instead of confronting the crisis, Obama tried to pretend it didn’t exist.
“The Obama administration did everything it could to downplay it and in fact made it disappear because they were trying to pursue a policy of what was termed strategic patience,” said Nash.
And he says leaving the nuclear threat unaddressed was a major error.
“We’re starting to come to the realization that they do have a capability, that the intelligence community did know about it but that the Obama administration buried that information. As we say in the Navy, bad news does not get better with age. This is aging out and it’s starting to stink,” said Nash.
Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice is actively condemning the Trump approach. While acknowledging that Obama failed to stop the North Korean nuclear program, she says any conflict with North Korea would be catastrophic and believes the world must simply come to grips with the communist regime being a nuclear state.
“That absolutely insane,” said Nash, likening Rice’s posture to deciding to accept living near a crazy neighbor who threatened to kill you and then accumulated the weapons to do it.
“The time for pussyfooting around and being really diplomatic is over, just as Tillerson said. Strategic patience, that’s over. We’re now at the point of having kicked the can down the road. The road has come to a fork. As [Yogi Berra] said, ‘When you come to a fork in the road, take it,'” said Nash.
“Something’s going to happen. Either we are going to acquiesce to having a madman with nuclear weapons, who is only going to continue to pursue and refine that capability, or we’re going to do something different than what we have been doing, which is kicking a can down the road, hoping – which is not a strategy – that things would get better,” said Nash.
Nash says North Korea’s current threat of aiming four missiles near Guam would meet the threshold of a first strike by the enemy. He also expects the U.S. would try to bring down those missiles rather than hoping they don’t hit Guam.
“You can’t just sit there and hope that he wouldn’t really target Guam when you’ve got missiles that could be nuclear-armed headed in that direction, an intolerable situation,” said Nash.
Nash says one other major problem in the this standoff lies squarely at Obama’s feet, namely that rogue nuclear states have no incentive to give up their arms or ambitions.
“I think Iran and North Korea took the lessons of recent history. What happened to Moammar Ghaddafi when he gave up his weapons of mass destruction, mostly chemical but he also gave up some nuclear material. When he gave up those programs, that didn’t help him. In fact, the United States partnered with NATO and went and deposed him,” said Nash.
And it’s not just Libya.
“Look at the Russians with Ukraine. The Brits, the United States, and the Russians all signed an agreement that they would protect the political and territorial integrity of Ukraine if they gave up the nuclear weapons after the USSR fell. How’d that work out for them?” asked Nash.
He says rogue nations learned the exact opposite lessons we hoped they would learn from those examples.
“The lesson is if you’ve got nuclear weapons capability, don’t give them up. Because if you do, you’re in trouble,” said Nash.
North Korea murdered Otto Warmbier and a fierce response is needed, says a prominent expert on China and North Korea, but he warns the increasingly belligerent actions of the communist regime are a result of the U.S. failing to hold it accountable for more than two decades.
Earlier this month, North Korea released Warmbier after imprisoning him for 16 months. He spent the vast majority of that time in a coma and died just days after returning to Ohio. North Korea claimed Warmbier’s coma stemmed from a bout of botulism and that he was released on humanitarian grounds. U.S. doctors found no evidence of botulism.
“At this point, we have to go with the overwhelming evidence and that is indeed an issue of murder,” said Gordon Chang, a leading scholar on China and North Korea and the author of “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World.”
“There is just no other explanation for a healthy 22-year-old – then a 21-year-old – would end up in a permanent coma and then death. We have to just follow the evidence and just realize that the North Korean explanation is not accurate,” said Chang.
“It may have been guards who got overzealous, but it probably was an order from the top of the regime to send a message to the United States,” said Chang. “It was as horrific as we can think. This is a good reminder when we start to talk about negotiating with the North Koreans of who we are actually dealing with.”
On Friday, the North Korean regime vigorously denied torturing Warmbier, insisting it provided him medical care and then released him on humanitarian grounds.
“Although we had no reason at all to show mercy to such a criminal of the enemy state, we provided him with medical treatments and care with all sincerity on humanitarian basis until his return to the U.S.,” the foreign ministry said, according to state-run Korean Central News Agency.
The North Korean government also claimed it was the biggest victim in this story due to an alleged smear campaign by the U.S. and South Korea to accuse it of torture.
“It’s a typical North Korean response that it’s all the Americans’ response. Any problem in the world can be traced to Washington. This is just the way that they operate. They’re certainly not going to accept any responsibility for the treatment of Otto Warmbier, although they had total custody of him since January 2, 2016,” said Chang.
While the actions of Kim Jong-Un’s regime infuriate the Trump administration, Chang says increased North Korean aggression is simply a result of the U.S. doing virtually nothing in response to provocations for decades.
“We have not imposed costs on North Korea for their brutalized treatment of Americans: the seizure of the (USS) Pueblo in 1968, the shoot down of the Air Force EC-121 with the loss of 31 lives. Again, no penalty was imposed. We never do so, so of course the North Koreans think they can kill us,” said Chang.
“Yes, the North Koreans are villains, but this has become an issue not of North Korea. It’s become an issue of the American response to North Korea, he views of the American policy establishment, the views of American administrations – Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives,” said Chang.
“The north Koreans will continue to act in this way until the United States imposes some costs. So this has become a question of us, not them,” he added.
And what is an effective response?
“Regardless of what they think about North Korea, the Trump administration needs to impose costs on Pyongyang. We need to do that because we cannot allow anyone to kill anyone with impunity,” said Chang.
He believes going after North Korean money would send a crystal clear message.
“I think the most important thing would be to cut North Korea off from the global financial system by cutting North Korea off from Chinese banks, which are participating in illicit North Korean commerce and North Korean crimes,” said Chang.
In addition to providing an appropriate wake-up call to North Korea, Chang believes China would also receive the message loud and clear.
“If were to start to do that, I think that we would start to see a new Chinese attitude, much more positive and much more cooperative. But until we are willing to take political risk and show political will, they’re going to continue with their support of North Korea. They’ve weaponized North Korea against us. We have not responded,” said Chang.
He says demonstrating diplomatic backbone is vital for U.S. national security.
“It’s becoming essential for the United States to show the rest of the world that, first of all, we’re going to enforce our own laws regardless of what we think about China or North Korea policy,” said Chang.
“Second, we need to send a message to the Chinese that for the first time since 1994 that we are serious about protecting the American homeland. We haven’t done that, and because of that Beijing and Pyongyang haven’t taken us seriously,” he said.
President Trump has said the approach of previous administrations toward North Korea does not work, but he has yet to lay out a new policy. In the meantime, Chang says we’re still getting pushed around.
“So far they’ve adopted the policy of their predecessors and they’re, again, getting no results from the Chinese. I don’t know if the president has genuinely been taken in by Beijing or whether he’s just giving them enough rope and he’s decided he’s eventually going to do something on his own,” said Chang.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton is praising President Trump for ordering a missile strike against a key Syrian airfield in response to Syria’s latest use of chemical weapons against it’s own people, and Bolton says it tells the rest of the world that this administration sees the world much differently than the last one.
“The Obama era in American foreign policy is over and there’s a president in the White House with a very different worldview,” said Bolton, pointing to Obama’s repeated threats of military action in response to using chemical weapons.
He says the Syrians, Russians, and Iranians clearly didn’t expect Trump to act so decisively.
“I think they’re so stunned that Trump acted, given the performance of Obama over the years, saying that that he would view even the movement of chemical weapons as a red line and not enforcing it,” said Bolton.
On Thursday, Trump green-lighted the launch of 59 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles from American ships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The missiles targeted Shayrat Air Base, the installation from which the latest chemical weapons attacks were launched.
Reaction has not fallen along traditional lines. Mainstream Republicans and many liberals are hailing the decision, while some of Trump’s most ardent supporters during the campaign were very critical.
Bolton believes it was the right call.
“Anytime you have an authoritarian regime like this that joins a treaty like the Chemical Weapons Convention, says it will give up these weapons of mass destruction and lies about it and uses the weapons, that is a direct threat to the national security of the United States,” said Bolton.
He is also hopeful that other bad actors around the world will act differently when they see the consequences of Syria’s behavior.
“It’s important around the world that people know that we’re simply not going to tolerate countries entering these treaties and then violating them by using weapons against innocent civilians. I think it’ll have an impact well beyond Syria. I think North Korea and Iran, in particular, should draw a lesson from this. I think China and Russia should as well,” said Bolton.
But is this an isolated strike or the start to a more entangled involvement in the region once again? Bolton says Trump’s actions are unlikely to trigger a slippery slope of U.S. engagement. He also says the region is about to look a bit differently and the U.S. must be positioned well.
“We’re going to defeat ISIS, hopefully in a short period of time, maybe by the end of the year. We need to think ahead to what the Middle East is going to look like post-ISIS and I certainly hope it does not include a Russian airbase at Latakia in Syria, which the Obama administration allowed them to have,” said Bolton.
Bolton says this episode should make it clear that assertions of Trump being a Vladimir Putin stooge were grossly unfounded.
“I think this is very interesting commentary for all those in Washington that basically argued that Trump was a Manchurian candidate with his strings pulled by Moscow. That’s not quite the way this has worked out,” said Bolton.
The timing of the strike played out in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons, but Bolton says launching the mission while the Chinese president is in the U.S. sends a direct message about North Korea as well.
“It was more than an amazing coincidence that President Xi Xinping of China was in Mar-A-Lago with President Trump when he decided on the airstrike against Syria, certainly people have looked at that possibility with respect to North Korea,” said Bolton.
He says there is great urgency for Trump and Xi to act on North Korea as the communist nation’s nuclear program and missile system continue to advance.
“They’re so far advanced toward putting a nuclear device on an intercontinental ballistic missile and hitting targets on the west coast of the United States in the very near future. Some people have estimated that to mean next year,” said Bolton.
Bolton believes the common ground for Trump and Xi would be for the two Koreas to be united again and erase the nuclear menace.
North Korea will pose a nuclear risk to the United States within a few years and stopping the threat means realizing North Korea and Iran are two components of the same threat and getting tough on China is the key to stopping both of them.
Gordon Chang is widely seen as one the world’s leading experts on China and North Korea. He is the author of “The Coming Collapse of China” and “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World.” He says this past weekend’s North Korean test of an intermediate range missile needs to be a call to awareness and to action.
“The North Koreans and the Iranians have been thick as thieves. This is one program conducted in two separate locations. When we add in China’s participation in this, we’ve got to look at this as a whole, not just the separate pieces,” said Chang.
Chang says no further evidence is needed than to note the Iranian missile test which made worldwide headlines last month was actually conducted with a North Korean missile.
Officially, China is condemning the latest North Korean provocation, but Chang says Beijing is is doing that largely to sooth the rest of the world. He says China is notoriously duplicitous when it comes to North Korea.
“The Chinese have consistently been helping the North Koreans develop both nukes and long-range missiles. We see Chinese banks involved in money laundering for North Korea and involved in North Korea’s illicit commerce. Chinese entities have been selling things like uranium hexafluoride and components for the North’s uranium weapons program,” said Chang.
“If Beijing wanted this to stop, it would. It hasn’t been,” added Chang, who says the Chinese are equally deceptive on the diplomatic stage.
“We see China rhetorically supporting sanctions and then turning around and busting them when the world isn’t watching. So I don’t think the Chinese are genuine in what they say in New York (at the United Nations),” said Chang.
North Korean provocations in the past 20 years are often followed by a familiar pattern of condemnation and sanctions. Yet, since the failure to stop North Korea’s nuclear ambitions in the 1990s, little has been effective at getting the regime to change course.
Chang says it’s time to get serious with China.
“One thing we could do is unplug Chinese financial institutions from the global system because of their participation in North Korea’s illicit commerce. That would shock markets but we’ve got to show Beijing that we are serious,” said Chang.
While carrying economic and diplomatic challenges, Chang says the move would gut the nuclear threats emanating from both North Korea and Iran.
“It certainly would but we have not had the political will to do that. But if some American city ends up to be a radioactive slab, it will not do for the president to say, ‘Well, I could have stopped this but I didn’t want to anger the Chinese. We need to anger the Chinese because we need, first of all, to protect our homeland,” said Chang.
Chang says are obvious things China could do to show it was serious about stopping the North Korean nuclear program, but like other efforts, Beijing must be closely monitored.
“If we saw commerce between North Korea and China drop to zero, that would be an indication that Beijing is serious about this. After the next to last sanctions on North Korea, which were in March of last year, there was a brief fall-off in commerce in April and May. After that, everything went back to pre-sanction levels. So that is a pattern,” said Chang.
Chang also advocates the financial strategy against China because it’s clear that softer diplomacy is a massive failure.
“Yes, we’ve had diplomacy intended to disarm the North Koreans but we have not seriously pursued it with the vigor that it requires. That’s why the North Koreans now have nuclear weapons and are on the verge of being able to mate them to their longest-range launchers. Clearly, our diplomacy over the course of decades has failed,” said Chang.
That’s right. Chang says the North Korean missile program is making great strides in recent years, regardless of the failed tests that tend to make headlines.
“When they have a test which fails, they learn a lot, so it’s not necessarily a setback. We know that within 3-5 years, they will be able to have an intercontinental ballistic missile which will be able to reach most of the lower 48 states, and they’ll be able to mate a nuclear weapon to that,” said Chang.
“Right now, they have the launchers. They have the distance. They just don’t have the ability to mate a weapon to a long-range launcher,” said Chang.