The Bitter Truth About North Korea's Nukes

People gather near the area where U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet for dinner in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. Trump and Kim will likely be all smiles as they shake hands in Hanoi at a meeting meant to put flesh on what many critics call their frustratingly vague first summit in Singapore. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating due to today’s summit.

It was thought by most (including yours truly) that North Korea wouldn’t long survive the end of the Soviet Union and the generous subsidies it had provided to Pyongyang. At least, not without some serious economic, and perhaps even political reforms.

But the Kims proved to be as wily as they were uncaring about the condition of their people. About 10% of the population was lost to famine in the 1990s, and a generation later, North Koreans are shorter and weaker than their historically identical brethren in the South. That’s due to continuing malnutrition for virtually everyone but government officials and a few elite military units. The rest of the country is kept in a condition of near-starvation and political terror.

One of the ways the North has survived so long under these (self-imposed) conditions is through subsidies from China, many of which are forbidden by international sanctions. Another way is bullying the West for relief by means of their nuclear program. We give them food, they promise to stop or delay this or that part of their program. But rather than live up to their end of each bargain, the North escalates instead. They’re aided in these efforts by their ability to hold Seoul — the capital of South Korea and home to half its population — hostage. The North has literally thousands of artillery and rocket positions within range of Seoul, and could cause incalculable damage and death before being brought to heel.

But what has aided North Korea perhaps more than anything else is Washington’s unwillingness to actually do much of anything except for kicking the can from one administration to the next. This started with Bill Clinton, continued on through George W. Bush, and continued with even more laxity under Barack Obama.

But with both Pyongyang’s nuclear program and accompanying missile program at a high level of development, we’ve reached the end of the road; there are no more places to kick the can.

Can Trump accomplish what his last three predecessors refused to even try? Who knows. The Kim regime remains as wily and manipulative as ever. What I do know — and it’s a terrible thing to have to say, but it’s true — is that North Korea’s nukes earned that vile regime a seat at the negotiating table.

Yet the hyperpartisans of the Left, with their typical zero concern for national security, are leaving comments like this one:

Why is orange douche in Vietnam? We care so much, PJ Media hasn’t done one story about it. Who gives a crap about North Korea? It seems like the only person that will meet with him anymore is strongman dictators. Making a mockery of American foreign policy.

No, Trump is trying what others wouldn’t, going all the way back to the mid 1990s. That isn’t a mockery of American foreign policy, but instead it’s an attempt to actually establish a foreign policy where there hadn’t been one before.

Whether or not he succeeds, he should get credit for trying something more than the cowardly do-nothingism of Clinton, Bush, and Obama.