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The North Korean nuclear threat is a "hinge" moment for the U.S. and China, and for the new international order both nations say they want.
If Washington and Beijing manage to stay together in dealing with Pyongyang, the door opens on a new era in which China will play a larger and more responsible role in global affairs, commensurate with its economic power. If the great powers can't cooperate, the door will slam shut — possibly triggering a catastrophic military conflict on the Korean peninsula.
President - Trump - Bullying - Style - Matters
President Trump's bullying style, even in dealing with trivial matters of domestic politics, obscures the extent to which he has tried to marry U.S. policy on North Korea with that of China. For the most part, he has been surprisingly successful. Beijing and Washington have mostly been aligned, as in last weekend's unanimous U.N. Security Council vote in favor of additional sanctions against Pyongyang to punish its continued missile tests.
Washington's diplomatic goal, although it hasn't been stated publicly this way, is to encourage China to interpose itself between the U.S. and North Korea and organize negotiations to de-nuclearize the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. threat is that if China doesn't help the U.S. find such a diplomatic settlement, America will pursue its own solution — by military means, if necessary.
Trump - Rhetoric - Tuesday - Reporters - Fire
Trump amped up the rhetoric Tuesday, telling reporters: "They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen."
The U.S. threat may be a bluff, but with Trump, you never know. Top U.S. officials understand that a pre-emptive war against North Korea could result in horrendous loss of life and a post-conflict outcome that would be worse for all parties. But when national security adviser H.R. McMaster says that a nuclear-armed North Korea is "intolerable" to Trump, one should assume he means it — and that...
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