It is not so much the nature and resolution of a problem as how it is handled that tells much about an individual.
In this vein, nothing will set the stage for President Donald Trump’s overall foreign relations than how he deals with North Korea.
Unfortunately, this first foreign challenge to Donald Trump’s presidency is coming up fast.
How he handles it will tell the country much about this dynamic new President.
In its latest challenge to the world, North Korea sent a salvo of missiles into the waters off its coast line. While not intercontinental in ability, these missiles have shaken the South Korean and Japanese governments.
Taken together with the very public murder of the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s half-brother and the barbaric execution of senior intelligence officials, the launches indicate a new belligerence and thumb-your-nose attitude on his part.
What’s more, while China is not totally displeased with this challenge to President Trump, intelligence watchers in the west and South Korea are detecting signs the larger country has lost some of its influence with the young dictator. This has emboldened Kim Jong Un.
The airport attack in Malaysia of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother reportedly did not please the Chinese leadership which shuns overt acts of violence against state enemies. Kim Jong Un decision to act against a seemingly powerless adversary is believed to be an act of paranoid and petty defiance.
Against this backdrop, President Trump is face with unpleasant choices. Clearly, North Korea is moving towards having a nuclear weapon capable of reaching an American city. With hardened research and production facilities, North Korea believes it is invulnerable to a military attack to neutralize its efforts.
Reportedly, President Obama was relying on covert operations involving attacks on the electronic and technology efforts to thwart North Korea’s efforts. According to numerous intelligence sources, these efforts have failed.
Faced with this failure on the part of his predecessor, President Trump needs to find a combination of diplomatic, economic, and military efforts to stop what could be a national disaster.
What’s more time is running out. Confidential assessments by American military and domestic intelligence agencies put the probability of an attack from North Korea sometime before the end of 2018 at more than 50%.
While news organizations have focused on minor peccadillos in the White House, it is reported that a major study group has been convened to attempt to deal with the North Koreans.
One tantalizing clue as to the direction President Trump may be encouraging is the growing paranoia exhibited by Kim Jong Un. In recent weeks, the number of executions of those surround the still young dictator have increased. This suggests efforts to assassinate him may be increasing.
While with the exception of Osama Ben Laden, President Obama refused to approve assassinations of senior government officials, it is reported President Trump has at the least asked for a study of a possible scenario involving Kim Jong Un’s death.
The dictator is the grandson of the founding family’s patriarch of this present regime, in past years he has eliminated members of his ruling family, including a close uncle. Whether a new regime free of family influence will be more amenable to loosening the stringent straight jacket that is North Korea is unclear at this time.
No matter who is in charge, President Trump and his advisors are clearly worried about the consequences of a nuclear attack by this rogue nation.
Beyond the problems North Korea, the rest of the world, China and Russia in particular, are curious how this president will react to pressure posed by a runaway nuclear threat.
While always fearless in business, President Trump has also shown a marked prudence when it comes to working out the details of serious problems. North Korea promises to be the first and one of the most serious crisis of his administration. How he handles it will tell the world and America much about the man they elected President.