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Trump’s ‘Bellicosity’ and North Korea

David Brooks gives Trump undeserved credit on North Korea:

In fact, Trump’s bellicosity seems to have worked. It’s impossible to know how things will pan out, but the situation with North Korea today is a lot better than it was six months ago. Hostages are being released, talks are being held. There seems to be a chance for progress unfelt in years.

Maybe Trump intuited something about the sorts of people who run the North Korean regime that others missed.

The progress that has been made with North Korea has happened entirely because of South Korean efforts to engage with Pyongyang and the North Koreans’ apparent confidence that their nuclear weapons and missiles programs have advanced far enough to provide them with a credible deterrent. It is good news that the Americans held by North Korea have been released, but that has happened before and it didn’t require threatening to rain down “fire and fury” on an entire country. All of the diplomatic progress that has happened thus far has happened in spite of Trump’s “maximum pressure” approach and maximalist demands, and it happened after Trump stopped making alarming and reckless threats about military action. If Trump thinks that these are the things that have brought North Korea to the table, he will be unpleasantly surprised when he goes to Singapore next month.

Put simply, there is nothing to back up Brooks’ assertion that the president’s “bellicosity seems to have worked.” That is probably why he doesn’t offer any evidence to support that assertion. If anything, Trump’s rhetoric likely strengthened the North Korean government’s commitment to hanging on to their nuclear weapons and missiles. Hawks are predisposed to believe that bellicose rhetoric and pressure tactics yield results, but as usual there is no evidence to back up that belief.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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