Does Trump Have a Strategy to Win the Global War?

The Wall Street Journal is delighted to hear Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s tough words on North Korea and China.

“Let me be very clear: The policy of strategic patience has ended,” Mr. Tillerson said, referring to the Obama Administration policy of waiting for North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions or collapse. A day earlier he criticized “20 years” of a “failed approach” to the North’s nuclear ambitions.

I, too, appreciate the secretary of state’s candor. But straight talk isn’t going to be enough. As the Journal concedes,

He and President Trump are trying to persuade China that the new Administration is serious about stopping the North before it could explode a nuclear weapon over U.S. territory. China has ignored U.S. pleas in the past, so the test will be getting Beijing to believe the new Administration isn’t bluffing.

How are we supposed to get the Chinese to change their minds? Words aren’t going to be good enough; the Chinese, and the North Koreans, will have to see real evidence of American resolve, which has been lacking for three decades.

The Trump administration’s national security policy was to have been much more muscular than Obama’s, as incarnate in the appointments of notoriously tough military leaders at the National Security Council (first General Flynn, then General McMaster) and the Department of Defense (General Mattis). So far at least, this has not happened; the enemy coalition has been more active, starting with North Korea, and continuing with China, Russia, and Iran.

You can see the enemy moving in and around Libya, now a major regional hot spot. Sub-Saharan African countries see a significant influx of radical Islamist terrorists across Libya’a southern border, and are urging the United States and Europe to take forceful action. Meanwhile, in the north, the Egyptians are turning to unlikely allies to fight Libyan-based terrorists. All of a sudden, Russian special forces have turned up in Egypt within range of Libya. “It is very concerning," Marine General Thomas Waldhauser. U.S. Africom commander, said to Senator John McCain in recent testimony.

"General Haftar has visited, as you said, on the carrier with the Russians. He's also visited in the country of Russia. Also, this week it's reported in the open press, [Prime Minister Fayez al-] Sarraj from the Government of National Accord has also visited Russia.

This is doubly worrisome, both because the Russians are moving some of their best fighters onto the Libyan battleground, and because it shows that the Egyptian government is cooperating with Vladimir Putin. This shows, once again, that General el-Sisi does not feel entirely comfortable with his American allies, and is hedging his security bets. Not good news for the Trump administration.