The North Korean Missile Crisis

In case you missed the news over the holiday weekend, North Korea test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which it claims can be outfitted with a nuclear warhead and which "some experts now believe had the range to reach the U.S. state of Alaska as well as parts of the mainland United States."
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the test completed his country's strategic weapons capability that includes atomic and hydrogen bombs and ICBMs, the state KCNA news agency said.

Pyongyang would not negotiate with the United States to give up those weapons until Washington abandons its hostile policy against the North, KCNA quoted Kim as saying.

"He, with a broad smile on his face, told officials, scientists and technicians that the U.S. would be it was given a 'package of gifts' on its Independence Day," KCNA said.
North Korea's Academy of Defense Science asserted that "the launch was the 'final step' in creating a 'confident and powerful nuclear state that can strike anywhere on Earth.'"

Naturally, Donald Trump responded with his typical reckless belligerance in a pair of provocative tweets:

He then headed off to the golf course, marking his 36th day of golf since taking office, and his 50th day at a Trump organization business property. Because his idea of being a president is tweeting that China should take care of North Korea's nuclear "nonsense."

The thing is, the launch occurred during General Secretary of China's Communist Party Xi Jinping's visit to Moscow, which resulted in the Chinese and Russian foreign ministries issuing a joint statement in response to the launch:
In a joint statement, China and Russia's Foreign Ministries warned the situation on the Korean peninsula is so tense "it could lead to an armed conflict." And it chastised the "relevant parties" — Trump, as well as Kim — to "refrain from provocative actions and warlike remarks."

The striking thing about their statement is not only the language — mild when compared to Trump's tweets, but surprisingly strident from China's normally staid Foreign Ministry — but that Moscow and Beijing took the unusual step of issuing one together.

United States and South Korean troops made a "show of force" by firing missiles into the waters off South Korea's coast, with the U.S. Army releasing a statement saying: "The deep strike precision capability enables the (South Korean)-U.S. alliance to engage the full array of time critical targets under all weather conditions." Okay.

If that sounds like an insufficient or ineffective response, well, that's because it is — and there really aren't any good options. At the New York Times, David E. Sanger writes that Trump's options are "few and risky." And on CBS This Morning, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell [Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] said flatly that there are no good options:
"There is no good option here. There is no military option here to destroy [North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's] nuclear program, his missile program," Morell said. "There is no option to do that that wouldn't start a second Korean War, and wouldn't raise the possibility of him using nuclear weapons against his neighbors."

"The risks are extraordinarily high in a military standoff," he added. "There's also virtually no diplomatic issue here."
And even if there were a diplomatic solution, the United States has a president who is constitutionally incapable of effective diplomacy.

[CN: Disablist language] At the Washington Post, David Rothkopf notes (under the blunt headline "The greatest threat facing the United States is its own president"): "[I]t may be that Trump's fitness to serve as president is our nation's core national security issue."
Daily he shows he lacks the character, discipline, intellect, judgment or respect for the office to be president of the United States. In normal times, this would be worrying. But look at the news. North Korea is moving closer to having the ability to deliver a nuclear weapon to the United States. A confrontation is coming that will be a test of character pitting North Korea's unhinged leader, Kim Jong Un, against our leader.

...The United States has had a wide variety of presidents; we have as often been victimized by their errors of judgment as we have benefited from their leadership. But the stark reality is that objective analysis reveals that we have never before seen a president so unfit for office. Even President Richard Nixon at his moments of darkest paranoia was a professional public servant who understood the office and the stakes associated with it. One might, on this Independence Day week, have to go back to King George III to find a head of state who so threatened America. But there is no precedent for one whose character is so obviously ill-suited to the presidency.

...[W]hen we have a system in which the chief executive is endowed with so much power, we regularly find that our fate in crises turns on the character of the president. For that reason, it is not the incivility of modern politics that drives us to question Trump's fitness; it is a respect for the lessons of history and for the national interests his profound deficits put at risk.
When your nation is dealing with a security threat from an erratic, abusive, and reckless leader, you hope that your leader isn't also erratic, abusive, and reckless.

Unfortunately, that is not the situation in which we find ourselves.

I would like every person who has ever said that we can't trust a woman to be president because women are "too emotional" to take a big fucking bow for their pivotal roles in getting us into this stinking mess. What I wouldn't give for Hillary Clinton to be our president in this moment.

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