June 13, 2018

BYRON YORK: On North Korea, a president who tried something different.

Have you heard people say war is not an option in North Korea, or that it is unthinkable? Trump started thinking about it. His top military officers worked through a number of scenarios for war on the Korean Peninsula. And while they were doing it, Trump escalated his anti-Kim rhetoric to unheard-of levels. Kim was “Little Rocket Man,” and North Korean aggression would be “met with fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

Trump later explained he did it because he believed the old way had not worked. “Other administrations … had a policy of silence,” he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity after the summit. “That’s not the answer. That’s not what you have to do. So I think the rhetoric — I hated to do it, sometimes I felt foolish doing it — but we had no choice.”

So while Trump bellowed threats, his administration quietly planned to make good on those threats, if it came to that.

Put it together, and what seemed to some critics like a reckless strategy worked — or worked enough to pressure the North Koreans into at least temporarily stopping their provocations and wanting to talk. And when, after the talks were on track, the North Koreans resumed their provocative statements, Trump abruptly canceled them — and the North got back on board.

Will it work? Who knows? Not even the White House can say what exactly what it is that came out of Singapore.

But after three Administrations worth of failure and can-kicking, it was time to try something different.