April 19, 2017

ETHAN EPSTEIN: Bad Reviews For Trump’s Korea Policy — Except in, um, Korea.

The New York Times bemoans Trump’s “recklessness.” Ishaan Tharoor, a Washington Post blogger with the modest remit of covering the entire world, warns of the “dangers” of Trump’s policies. Even Ian Buruma, an expert on Dutch politics most famous for his bizarre attacks on the exceptionally brave Ayaan Hirsi Ali, has weighed in on Trump’s approach to North Korea: Apparently it “plays into North Korea’s hands.”

And yet, the Trump approach is receiving plaudits precisely where it matters most: in South Korea.

South Korea, perhaps because its population is among the world’s oldest, remains a country dominated by print newspapers, which are highly influential. An official affiliated with the country’s dominant conservative party estimates to me that more than half of Koreans still read a daily newspaper. And those newspapers’ editorial boards have praised Trump’s North Korea policy.

The team of Trump, Tillerson, and Mattis have found in just weeks a policy that puts Pyongyang on notice, moves China closer to becoming a responsible player, but hasn’t pushed Seoul any closer to total political chaos.

After three Administrations worth of can-kicking, that’s not bad.

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