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.