National Security

President Trump: Obama and Clinton Were ‘Outplayed’ by North Korea

“Despite supposedly crippling sanctions, North Korea has continued to develop its military technologies, specifically its weapons of mass destruction capabilities.”

In an interview that aired on Fox News Tuesday morning, President Trump took shots at former President Bill Clinton and his negotiations with North Korea. Trump went as far as to call Clinton’s “peace deal” with North Korea a “joke” and also lambasted President Obama and others. Trump has promised to address North Korea and reduce or eliminate the threat that the rogue state poses to the United States and its allies. How the president will accomplish this remains unclear.

North Korea has become an increasingly isolated and belligerent pariah state, testing nuclear weapons and firing rockets toward Japan. North Korea has also stated that it wants to develop the capability to directly strike the United States with nuclear weapons. The most recent threats include thermonuclear war and “merciless” military strikes, though many experts doubt North Korea’s ability to launch any massive strikes.

Meanwhile, Trump has broken with past presidencies by hinting at more willingness to use military force against North Korea. Whether this tactic will work remains to be seen. North Korea has so far responded to the saber rattling with threats of its own and has promised to launch rockets every week, yet most of North Korea’s rocket launches have been unsuccessful.

At the same time, past soft-negotiation tactics with North Korea have clearly failed to bear fruit. Beyond Democratic Presidents Obama and Clinton, Republican President George W. Bush made little headway with the rogue state. North Korea detonated its first nuclear weapon in 2006, under Bush’s watch, and made significant progress with its rocket technologies as well.

All three of the last presidents failed to make significant headway or to bring North Korea under control. Despite supposedly crippling sanctions, North Korea has continued to develop its military technologies, specifically its weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

When it comes to punishing North Korea, presidents have generally pursued economic sanctions and isolation. While these tactics have helped the world avoid outright war, North Korea has continued to develop nuclear weapon technology and long-range rockets, even in the face of stifling isolation.

In recent years, China has begun to distance itself from North Korea. China has remained North Korea’s chief economic partner and most important military ally. However, China has recently hinted that it might not intervene if North Korea is attacked. China is growing wary of North Korea’s increasing belligerence.

April is a Busy Month for Belligerent North Korea

April is often an important month for North Korea, as the country’s first supreme leader Kim Il-sung was born on April 15th, 1912. Sung, who is the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un, founded North Korea initially as a Marxist state and led communist forces against South Korea and the United States. North Korea no longer claims to be communist and has instead raised the status of its leaders to near deity levels.

In honor of Sung, April is usually a month when North Korea conducts weapon tests and other shows of force. The country tried to commemorate Sung’s birthday this past Saturday by launching yet another missile, but the launch was unsuccessful, with the missile exploding shortly after liftoff. Some have speculated that the United States may have caused the failure however, Deputy Nation Security Adviser K.T. McFarland on Sunday declined to say whether the U.S. sabotaged the launch only stating that she could not talk about secret intelligence.


Brian Brinker

Brian Brinker is an OpsLens Contributor and political consultant. Brinker has an M.A in Global Affairs from American University.

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