Marc Thiessen writes a characteristically deranged column about Syria and North Korea:
With a high-stakes summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un coming up, Trump needs to keep in mind how his next move in Syria will be seen not just in Damascus, Tehran and Moscow but also in Pyongyang. He should use his next strikes on Syria both to punish dictator Bashar al-Assad and to demonstrate to Kim what might happen to North Korea if it continues to pursue nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that could destroy American cities.
In short, Thiessen thinks Trump should take unnecessary, illegal military action in Syria to convey to North Korea that his previous threats of unnecessary, illegal military action against them were in earnest. If this “works,” it would heighten tensions with North Korea at the same time that it risks escalation with Russia and Iran. Attacking the Syrian government might very well “send a message” of sorts to North Korea, but even if it did the effect would be to encourage Kim to accelerate the development of their nuclear weapons program. Every time that North Korea sees the U.S. attack another regime with impunity, that gives it new incentive to keep building up its nuclear weapons and missile programs. Kim doesn’t want to suffer the fate of other despots targeted by the U.S., and so he will cling even more tightly to the nuclear arsenal that the DPRK has built at substantial cost.
On top of all that, Thiessen is crazy to compare an attack on Syria and an attack on North Korea. North Korea has deliverable nuclear weapons that we have to assume it will use if its government thinks they have nothing left to lose, and Syria does not. Firing off some cruise missiles at Syrian airfields is foolish and risky in its own right, but it is not as dangerous as launching an attack on a nuclear-armed state with a huge conventional army that can immediately inflict massive casualties on one of our allies. Attacking North Korea is insane, and no matter how many other weak states the U.S. attacks it won’t ever be anything else. Attacking Syria won’t make Kim more inclined to compromise, but it could easily convince him that diplomacy with the U.S. is a waste of time.