August 10th, 2017

This is what the WSJ thinks of Trump’s North Korean fire-breathing

Here’s their editorial:

The President’s point was that the North’s escalating threats are intolerable; he didn’t set any red lines. True to form, Pyongyang responded by putting the U.S. island of Guam in its cross hairs. Mr. Trump may be guilty of hyperbole (quelle surprise), but that is far less damaging to U.S. credibility than Barack Obama’s failure to enforce his prohibition on the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons in Syria. The foreign-policy elite who claim to be shocked also don’t have much credibility after their policy across three Administrations led to the current North Korean danger.

While the President’s words were unusually colorful, the Communist-style language may have been part of the message: Kim Jong Un isn’t the only one who can raise the geopolitical temperature. ..

… [T]he main audience for this rhetorical theater is in Beijing…

The other audience for Mr. Trump’s remarks is the North Korean leadership around the young Kim. If they believe they are doomed by Kim’s nuclear course, their best chance of self-preservation is to remove him.

My bet is on young Kim removing them first.

The rest of the editorial pretty much represents what I think of the basic situation. Trump is a blowhard, but he’s also a wildcard, and that can work to advantage because instead of hearing a mere statement that some action is “intolerable” or “unacceptable,” the foreign leader to whom such statements are directed just might believe that a US president means what he says for a change, and that certain unpredictable but upsetting actions might follow on the heels of the “mere words.”

Of course, the danger is that the leader hearing those words may react in a way that escalates things mightily, and may not be particularly sane or rational. There’s not much indication that the current leader of North Korea is either sane or rational, and so any reaction on his part short of an extremely violent one could depend on others reigning him in, either China or “the North Korean leadership around” him.

And plenty of people in this country and abroad believe that it’s Trump who’s neither sane nor rational. But, as I indicated, that can work in several opposing ways—either to make people more wary of riling him up, or more desperate to fight fire with fire and not just limit the fighting to fiery words.

And of course “the foreign-policy elite…claim to be shocked.” I think they actually are shocked, and feel oh so superior in their own ability to deal with North Korea. But, as the editorial also said (and it actually understates the case) they don’t have much credibility either. In fact, they have next to none (with me, anyway).

That’s the problem with North Korea. No one understands enough about Kim Jong-un to be able to predict his reactions to what the West does. If anything, he appears to be even more unpredictable than his father was, and that’s saying something. Anyone seeking to evaluate the positives or negatives of what Trump said must take that into account.

31 Responses to “This is what the WSJ thinks of Trump’s North Korean fire-breathing”

  1. Mark30339 Says:

    Great take. Meanwhile, NYT effectvely rewards Kim Jong Un’s bad behavior and serves up a prominent profile piece that will only encourage him.

  2. Cornhead Says:

    When do we get the CNN special blaming NK, Iran and Syria on Obama and Hillary?

    Iran will be an exact repeat of North Korea in about two years.

  3. ColoComment Says:

    Yes, Iran is watching. Closely.

  4. Oldflyer Says:

    I wonder what the Foreign Policy elites think the President should say in the face of such threats? “Well, that language is not helpful.”? “There will be consequences, of some sort or other.”?

    I think the President stated the obvious. An attack aimed at the U.S., or one of its allies, will trigger the destruction of the attacker. That used to be taken for granted; but, that may no longer be the case. So, the little Leader and his Chinese enablers need to hear it as bluntly as possible from the man with the big stick.

    John McCain needs to shut his mouth. The people of Arizona must be hanging their heads in embarrassment, now that they are represented by a Flake (pun intended), and an aging, possibly senile, Maverick. But, if there is a someone on the forum from Arizona, don’t feel bad. You can just point the finger over here to California, although Republicans and Conservatives had no voice in our representation.

  5. Cap'n Rusty Says:

    A little over 4 months ago, President Trump launched 59 Tomahawk missles at an air base in Syria whilst enjoying some chocolate cake with Xi Jinping in Mar a Lago. That was a wise strategic move. I have to believe Mr Jinping was impressed, because, like most of the leaders in other countries, he deals in the real, and often brutal, world. Further, all of our enemies now have to be thinking “Y’know that sonofa…. is crazy enough that he might just do it.”

    If you’re going to threaten to blow somebody up, every once in a while, you have to blow somebody up. After that, the threat itself might work.

  6. Bill Rudersdorf Says:

    Seven days before Christmas, 1989, any bookmaker would have given the longest of odds against the Romanian military turning on the Ceausescus and of their death by a firing squad by Christmas Day. But it happened.

    How might it happen in North Korea? I’ll wager a latte that somewhere in Kim’s imperial guard there is a spiritual descendant of Cassius Chaera. He was a member of the Roman Emperor Caligula’s personal guard. The sadistic emperor picked on him endlessly, ridiculing and belittling him in front of his comrades. And one day he struck.

    For eliminating Kim, no missiles or bombs are needed, no artillery. Just a knife.

  7. Artfldgr Says:

    Wars dont start by accident but in the minds of the common people…
    Though the funniest thing is the behavior that the son is exactly like the father end to end, as if the system spit out another interchangeable part tabled dictator, presses a button, and off it goes eternal.

    people who follow concepts of dynasty do not want extermination, it kind of negates their whole purpose of existence.

    as i put in the other post, this is to convert from a condition of expecting or hoping for china better nature to eventually come out, to a case of exercising power that people werent sure we even had any more, and moving things to beijings self interest.

    just as they had been taking advantage they are unprepared for the change from easy to difficult and someone who has managed to paint them into a corner on several things much to Xi consternation.

    whats more this power isnt like a moron with a gun that waves it around despite what people think, this power is based on being able to move things from we dont have to give a crap, to we have to be very interested cause if this gets out of hand number 1 sufferer will not be US, South Korea, Guam, or even North Korea… it will be China and on many levels..

    oh.. by the way…ONCE a missile passes the 12 mile mark and is in international waters its fair game to be shot down. and you can pretty much guarantee it will not be an active nuke (but may have nuclear stuff in it so if shot down, will allow it to claim it was on the cheap)

    oh, a tv person claimed stupid stuff like. if kim jong shoots 88 missiles (interesting choice of number), we could not stop some of them from hitting the us and doom and gloom

    and what makes him think kim has a 100 missiles to shoot off 88 and leave 12 for homeland defense? what makes him think that their missile could even get that far in the first place? and what the heck happened to about 15 years of, they aint close, they aint close, they aint close. pop, oh not big enough, they aint close, they aint close, POP, presential change… and oh lawd they stockpilled zillions..

    i guess this will make it more comforting that j coyne has moved from post birth abortions and such to the classic life not fit for living.
    he is now joined by another in concept but not location, the other is in california, making the argument that a genocide that is upon white racists would be moral, etc. etc.
    given the way losing jobs, i see we are slowly moving to the trifecta of a minority majority nation where once a point is reached and votes become possible given numbers, i guess anything goes.
    Aint demographics a bitch?

  8. Artfldgr Says:

    Bill Rudersdorf Says: For eliminating Kim, no missiles or bombs are needed, no artillery. Just a knife.

    That wont happen, at least not a knife. There are a lot more sophisticated ways and even classic ways.

    the classic way used to be thorium which would be drunk and in short while stomach cancer or other cancer would appear.

    at one point pcb’s were tried… sure made the politician it was given to sick and changed his looks over night… but wasnt sure fire as the classic

    more recent events had an overt version of the thorium, but used polonium. but you have to have access to a nuclear power plant to get that one.

    there is also a version of a tube with a capsule in it and a liquid (i wont say what liquid), but the pop makes a person gasp and if the tube is at the face they take a nice dose and drop of a heart attack.

    one attempt in the past in the west was accomplished with hitting a person in the leg and a air gun injected a tiny bb (real tiny) which had a hole in it and the hole was packed with ricin. killed one, didnt get the second if i remember the history.

    and i am sure Kamera (it has other assignations), has a interesting library of items for the system to choose if that was the point. but it wont be.

    What will happen is delay as they try to figure out if they can turn this around. the danger is in false flag by other states that could trigger a response that in turn would. but im not sure who would want to play that game given the game is not butn it all down and claim your the winner while sitting on top of the ashes

  9. parker Says:

    In the end the Kim il Crazy and cruel regime will end, but that time is not now. Phat boy has not now the means to strike us or our allies with a nuke. We are capable of taking down his missiles. Take them down. Embargo ports and establish a no fly zone over NK, the NK airforce is a joke. Meanwhile tell the chi-coms to back the f*ck off.

  10. T Says:

    ” . . . [The foreign policy elite] feel oh so superior in their own ability to deal with North Korea. . . . But . . . they don’t have much credibility either. In fact, they have next to none (with me, anyway). [Neo]”

    Sowell’s Vision of the Annointed (which Neo has admitted reading) explains this perfectly. Furthermore, Neo, as you know those elite couldn’t care less about their credibility with you or me or anyone else outside their ken. They are a closed self-sustaining caste which is hopefully seeing the end of its days.

  11. Tatterdemalian Says:

    I predict Un is going to try to kill a bunch of South Koreans, Japanese, maybe even US citizens in Guam, eager to prove once and for all the US is the paper tiger that Obama spent the majority of the last decade trying to convince the world we are.

    The world will be watching, and the judgment and consequences of our actions will be immediate… and the exact opposite of what the left wing thinks it will be.

  12. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    As long as Kim does not directly attack a US asset or ally, Trump made clear today that he will do nothing, “Let’s see what happens with Guam”.

    There will be no blockading of N.K. ports because Trump undoubtedly has been advised that it might precipitate an ‘overreaction’ by Kim.

    China just warned Trump that a first strike on N.K. will compel China to come to its aid. That they will stop us. China warned Kim that if he attacks first, the Chinese will stay neutral in the face of a justified American retaliation.

    So the status quo of N.K. building up a nuclear ICBM arsenal will continue. Until Kim decides that it’s time to play the nuclear blackmail card.

    Spoiled children who’ve never been told no and who then attain the unopposed power of life and death… do not react well when finally told they can’t have what they’ve decided they deserve. Kim ‘deserves’ to be the one who reunifies Korea, it will confirm his greatness and, he will have it.

  13. steve walsh Says:

    First we have to figure out what Kim is trying to accomplish. An article by George Friedman @Business Insider argues that he is motivated by geography (theirs) and a desire to protect and prolong the regime.

    Today China, via a state-sponsored news editorial, said they should not help or aid North Korea if they attacks first; but would intervene if the US attacks first or attempts to overthrow Kim.

  14. T Says:

    I offer that the important question here is, as yet, unasked: Is Kim Jong Un the source of this NORK craziness or is the power structure he represents behind all of this? Publicly, we don’t know much about the NORK power structure; Kim could just be a cooperative hood ornament.

    IMO this makes a big difference in understanding the situation. Hopefully our intelligence community has a better handle on this.

  15. Ymar Sakar Says:

    The West can counter NK missiles, but they can’t do anything about domestic false flag ops designed to create WW3.

  16. Ymar Sakar Says:

    When a false flag does happen, NK or Iran will be easy to be the fall guys.

  17. Richard Saunders Says:

    Sure, Ymar Sakar, you’re absolutely going to be able to find a US boomer crew who will fire nucs at Guam. Easy-peasy! Or maybe it will be SPECTRE, CHAOS, HYDRA, or one of those other all-powerful world-spanning criminal organizations?

    (That’s the trouble with conspiracy theories — you’ve got to find people to man the conspiracy!)

  18. BigFire Says:

    He’s using a language that dictators will understand. You want to puff and bluff? Bluff called.

  19. Frog Says:

    I quite disagree with Neo as to young Kim’s rationality. One need not be insane to be a murderous tyrant; one simply needs to be a sociopath. It helps if one is the grandson of the original Kim, revered as a god in Norkland; one is thus a junior god oneself, seeking to become a greater deity with time and self-righteous effort.
    Kim has been quite rational in his bluster, which serves to intimidate cowards like Merkel, and has moved rapidly in his progress to nuclear-tipped ICBMs.
    The response by Trump is entirely correct. A first strike using tactical nukes at minimum is required unless China steps up vigorously, which I doubt will occur.
    Kim is a blackmailer, and one cannot buy him off. Blackmailers and bullies must be put down ASAP. They otherwise keep coming back for more, which Clinton, Bush and Barack Hussein chose to ignore. Though perhaps Barack welcomes the prospect of a NORK attack, as long as it does not strike his Hawaii.
    The prospect of a united Korea, however achieved, should scare the pants off South Koreans: 25 million programmed drones as new citizens. Better to have them flee to China.

  20. neo-neocon Says:


    You write “I quite disagree with Neo as to young Kim’s rationality. One need not be insane to be a murderous tyrant; one simply needs to be a sociopath.”

    So, can you point to where I said that Kim is insane or irrational? I did not say it because I have no idea whether he is or isn’t.

    What I did write was this:

    “There’s not much indication that the current leader of North Korea is either sane or rational” and “No one understands enough about Kim Jong-un to be able to predict his reactions to what the West does. If anything, he appears to be even more unpredictable than his father was, and that’s saying something.”

    What’s more, of course Kim is a sociopath. And in addition, someone can be a sociopath and rational or a sociopath and irrational.

  21. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “I offer that the important question here is, as yet, unasked: Is Kim Jong Un the source of this NORK craziness or is the power structure he represents behind all of this?” T

    Obviously there are factions but I suspect Kim is firmly in charge. However, the Nork push for nukes started before he was born and IMO the goal of reunification of Korea under the North has become a societal imperative. The meme is something like; in the 1950s, the US stole from the North their rightful victory.

    Ymar Sakar,

    How is WWIII in the national interest of either Russia or China? What use ‘ruling’ over a devastated wasteland?


    Bluster and bluff is not met best with reciprocal bluster. That Trump was shooting off at the mouth was proven when the Norks responded to Trump’s warning about another NK threat with another even more specific threat against Guam and Trump’s response was “Let’s see what they do with Guam” that’s the most like Obama, that Trump has yet sounded.

    Here’s how Trump could have responded more effectively with Kim, though it would have raised a firestorm at home;
    ‘Let every nation understand, that under my administration, actions taken against America will have severe consequences. If at any point in the future, N.K. launches Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles at any US ally or part of the United States, the US Military has been directed by me to immediately turn N. Korea into a glass parking lot. We will use whatever amount of ordinance is needed and, we will not stop until there is not one living thing left in that abomination of a nation.’

    That would have got Kim’s attention and at least privately, given him pause.

    Of course, the more acceptable the rhetoric at home, the more surely Kim will laugh and ignore it.


    I don’t think that Kim is irrational either. His ego may be even larger than Trump’s however and that is the source of his bluster.

    A first strike using tactical nukes is what is needed but it isn’t going to happen. Trump telegraphed that in his response yesterday. And, the only way a U.S. retaliatory strike happens is if Kim is as irrational as neo thinks may be the case.

  22. Richard Saunders Says:

    Geoffrey Britain — how is that different from what Trump said, except yours is longer?

  23. Frog Says:

    What I read, Neo: “There’s not much indication that the current leader of North Korea is either sane or rational”.

  24. blert Says:

    Folks, one must consider that Kim has talked himself into a corner.

    That’s what happened to Tojo.

    Japan attacked — even though her internal analysis showed she would lose a serious war — because Tojo & Coy could NOT reverse course.

    Such steely resolve is to be expected with Oriental politicians.

    It’s why Japan had to be nuked. She wouldn’t see the light until it was an atomic flash. Concentration camp food rations for the civil population was not enough to convince the Imperial Japanese to reverse course.

    The OTHER concept you must comprehend is ‘belly talk.’ This when an Oriental politician talks completely away from the truth — as in 180 to reality — and you, the listener, are expected to know that this face-saving mechanism is in sway.

    By July 1945 all top Japanese politicians and authorities were engaged in full on ‘belly talk.’

    ( You’re supposed to listen to his belly — not his lips — get it ? )

    This same concept holds true for Korea and China.

    Belly talk exists because Top Men never make mistakes nor have to alter course — let alone reverse course.

    Such fixitude was bedrock for Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, Tojo and many another. It’s straight from the Dictatorship 101 handbook.

    BTW, we’ve LONG crossed the line: ONLY atomic weapons will de-fang Kim. The last president who could’ve stopped Kim with conventional arms was Barry Soetoro… about the time he was destroying non-nuclear Libya.

  25. blert Says:

    Notice how the Right 2 Protect has dropped from the Progressive lexicon?

  26. The Other Chuck Says:

    At this point it doesn’t matter what the WSJ or anyone else thinks about Trump’s sanity, or Kim’s for that matter. Donald Trump really isn’t too smart. In fact, he’s about the dumbest piece of work we’ve had in there in about the last hundred years or so.

    “I’m not going to rule out a military option,” Mr. Trump told reporters when asked about the situation in the South American country. “Venezuela is a mess.”

  27. Frog Says:

    Well, ‘The Other Chuck’ isn’t too smart either, not even when standing in a shower of IQ points. If you can call Trump dumb, Chuckie, I can apply that to you. Tit for tat.

    Smart does not a good President make. The smartest Presidents did us the most severe and enduring damage. See Wilson, FDR, LBJ, Barack Hussein Obama.

  28. neo-neocon Says:


    So, do you understand what that sentence of mine means?

    It means exactly what it says: that there is not much indication that the current leader of North Korea is sane or rational, which could in turn be paraphrased as meaning we don’t know whether he’s sane or rational because we don’t have the evidence on which to judge it.

    Shorter version: we don’t know.

    If you somehow think that equates to my saying that he’s insane or irrational, then you are having trouble with the English language.

  29. The Other Chuck Says:

    Dr. Frog:
    This isn’t a personal reflection on you. As a retired MD you obviously have the intelligence to get through medical school, the stamina to suffer residency, and probably the drive and desire to specialize, as did my father. I didn’t have that. I dropped out of pre-med and got my degree as a fluff music major. You are probably right that in the God given gifts of intelligence I’m lacking. I can’t remove a tumor, mend a broken zygomatic arch, or birth a baby. But I can still play Schumann’s A Minor Concerto from memory and Chopin’s complete set of waltzes. We all have our gifts.

    As to Donald Trump, he chose to be the president of this country and the leader of the free world. He has an obligation and responsibility to millions of people. That includes using basic common sense when speaking. His obvious lack of self-control is a reflection of his lack of understanding of the burden he shoulders. He’s immature in the extreme. He needs to be reined in before he gets us all killed.

  30. FOAF Says:

    “He needs to be reined in before he gets us all killed.”

    What about the three Presidents who had TWENTY FIVE F***ING YEARS to deal with this and left us with this situation? If Trump “gets us all killed” from a NK nuke they share the blame.

  31. The Other Chuck Says:

    My older brother who is a history buff sent me the following quote with a question – who does this remind you of?

    [He was]…superficial, hasty, restless, unable to relax, without any deeper level of seriousness, without any desire for hard work or drive to see things through to the end, without any sense of sobriety, for balance and boundaries, or even for reality and real problems, uncontrollable and scarcely capable of learning from experience, desperate for applause and success,—as Bismarck said early on in his life, he wanted every day to be his birthday—romantic, sentimental and theatrical, unsure and arrogant, with an immeasurably exaggerated self-confidence and desire to show off, a juvenile cadet, who never took the tone of the officers’ mess out of his voice, and brashly wanted to play the part of the supreme warlord, full of panicky fear of a monotonous life without any diversions, and yet aimless, pathological in his hatred(s)…

    It’s a description of Kaiser Wilhelm II from The Great Upheaval by Thomas Nipperdey.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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