The Russians have gotten a taste of Donald Trump’s unpredictability and it is unsettling. From Trump’s response to Syrian’s using poison gas on their own people to “the big bomb” he used on the Taliban in Afghanistan, this is a new and forceful president.
Russian President Vladimir Putin clearly sees this massive difference with America’s foreign policy versus eight years of Barack Obama’s appeasement and retreat. It is no surprise Russian President Vladimir Putin has again rejected U.S. calls for new sanctions against North Korea after its sixth and most powerful nuclear test.
Donald Trump is hard to predict. That used to be Putin’s own personal game. Now the Russian president echoes China’s resistance to more punitive measures to pressure Pyongyang into abandoning its atomic and missile programs.
Both the Chinese and the Russians now feel American military might on their very borders and it is a hard thing to swallow. This is not Barack Obama who will talk them to death. This is a president who will exert American authority because it is in the best interests of the American people, not the world at large.
The Russian leader criticized sanctions as “useless and ineffective,” instead urging the international community to offer security guarantees to North Korea. Of course he will say that because nothing done is nothing changed.
The new and forceful U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said last Monday the Trump administration would seek the strongest possible sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s regime. Kim was “begging for war” after testing what he claimed was a hydrogen bomb, she said after a meeting of the UN Security Council.
The mixed signals are actually Trump telling the communist nations he has a number of options and they won’t like many of them. Meanwhile, Haley said the U.S. would circulate new draft sanctions and wants the Security Council to vote on them Sept. 11.
There is a rhythm to American foreign policy now. The standoff between North Korea and the U.S. has become the most dangerous foreign crisis in many decades and Trump has signaled the time for talk has ended.
Or has it?
A clearly confused Putin condemned what he described as a policy of whipping up war hysteria. That may be just what Trump seeks; what is he really thinking?
Trump has America’s allies involved. This time we are not going it alone. Even before North Korea detonated its most powerful nuclear bomb on Sunday, Japan was calling for moves to cut off its oil supply. Then Trump threatened to halt all trade with any country that does business with Kim Jong Un’s regime. China, which supplies most of its food and fuel, called the warning “unacceptable.”
A nervous China Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang avoided a question at a briefing in Beijing on whether his nation would consider limiting oil shipments to North Korea.
Trump has them thinking.
Beijing has long avoided prodding North Korea to the point it might collapse. God forbid they lose their buffer zone with the West. They fear a destabilizing economic blow and the possibility of the U.S. military gaining influence on its border via a unified Korea.
One can be sure the Chinese have finally begun a conversation amongst themselves as to how long they can let the North Korean dictator call the tune. Thus, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa said Tuesday that her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi told her that Beijing is open to additional sanctions.
Then on Monday, Trump agreed to support billions of dollars in new weapons sales to South Korea. Hours later, the Seoul-based Asia Business Daily reported that North Korea was preparing to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile before Saturday.
It can easily be assumed this all has gotten the Chinese government’s attention. North Korea has previously threatened to launch missiles toward Guam.
What would Trump do? Do they want to find out?
Donald Trump is being tested. He is a new kind of president that the Russians and Chinese never expected to be in the White House last November. They know full well that the era of talking to death is over, at least for the next four years. The new president has the attention of America’s enemies and he shows no sign of backing down.