North Korean missile launch.

Kim Jong Un and North Korea: Testing the waters

Source:     The New York Times     Associated Press     Reuters

It should be no surprise North Korea’s Kim Jong Un launched another round of missiles, after all the big talk by President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.  With all we know about North Korea, it should have been realized that North Korea would, in fact, launch a missile in sheer defiance.  More importantly, North Korea’s missile launch was more to put the screws to President Trump than anything else.  The disturbing part is President Trump played right into Kim Jong Un hands, and Kim took full advantage of that.

President Trump should have known, if he listened to his advisors, that a war of words was not the way to go with North Korea.  However, Kim Jong Un understood Donald Trump all too well and lured President Trump into a false sense of understanding.  Kim knows exactly what he is doing, as long as the actions of North Korea don’t cross the line of hostility.  Kim demonstrated this by launching a missile over Japan, but with a trajectory that put the missile landing in the ocean.  A trajectory that could easily be determined by Japan and American forces to be non-threatening.

With these recent missile tests, President Trump issues a written statement which was more in line with the statements of past presidents.  Whether this is a matter of coincidence due to the storm in Texas or timing is anyone’s guess.  What is clear is President Trump’s written statement doesn’t put Kim Jong Un in a position to demonstrate his might and attempts to de-escalate tensions.  Nonetheless, the launching of these missiles was meant to provoke the United States while at the same time calling out President Trump’s statements of action as empty threats.

The natural disaster affect

The timing of the Texas flooding could prove to be a beneficial distraction for both the United States and North Korea.  While President Trump is involved with events unfolding in Texas, it could buy time for both the United States and North Korea to save face and de-escalate quietly.  However, Kim Jong Un clearly has the upper hand at the moment having fired off more missiles to prove a point.  The question is, will President Trump be able to control his ego enough to refrain from making more provoking comments.

Hopefully President Trump has learned something from the recent events with North Korea, that head butting leads to a quick headache.  Next is to see how far North Korea will go or how long they will wait before ratcheting things up again and if the United States will follow suit.  The thing to watch for is how President Trump decides to respond beyond his written statement.  You can bet Kim Jong Un is waiting to see the same.  There may be a tiny window of opportunity to move in the right direction, but that will depend on President Trump’s next move.