Foreign Affairs

Trump Offended South Korea

President Trump’s apparently offhand comment after meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping — that “Korea actually used to be a part of China” — has enraged many South Koreans, the AP reports.

The historically inaccurate sentence “bumps up against a raft of historical and political sensitivities in a country where many have long feared Chinese designs on the Korean Peninsula. It also feeds neatly into longstanding worries about Seoul’s shrinking role in dealing with its nuclear-armed rival, North Korea.”

The Challenge of Containing Kim Jung Un

The Economist: “For all his eccentricities, Mr Kim is behaving rationally. He watched Muammar Qadaffi of Libya give up his nuclear program in return for better relations with the West—and end up dead. He sees his nuclear arsenal as a guarantee that his regime, and he, will survive. (Though it would be suicidal for him to use it.) Mr Trump can do little to change his mind. Economic sanctions that harm his people will not spoil his lunch. Cyber-attacks, which may account for the failure of some recent missile launches, can slow but not stop him. America can solve the Korean conundrum only with China’s help.”

“China has leverage over Mr Kim. It accounts for 85% of North Korea’s foreign trade and could shut off its oil supply. But its interests are not the same as America’s. North Korea is its ally. China’s leaders do not like the Kim regime, but they do not wish to see it collapse and North Korea reunite, German-style, with the democratic South. That, China fears, would mean the loss of a valuable buffer. There are 28,500 American troops stationed in the South; China does not want them on its border.”

Trump Stays Quiet on French Election

“As a candidate, Donald Trump wasn’t shy about predicting the success of Brexit, the 2016 referendum that triggered Britain’s departure from the European Union and rocked the Continent’s politics,” Politico reports.

“But with Europe on the verge of another possible earthquake, President Trump has held his tongue about France’s upcoming presidential vote, surprising some who worried that he or his senior strategist, Steve Bannon, might somehow work to boost the controversial nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen.”

Update: Trump tweets: “Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!”

North Korea Warns of ‘Super-Mighty Preemptive Strike’

North Korean state media warned the United States of a “super-mighty preemptive strike” after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States was looking at ways to bring pressure to bear on North Korea over its nuclear program, Reuters reports.

Said the statement: “In the case of our super-mighty preemptive strike being launched, it will completely and immediately wipe out not only U.S. imperialists’ invasion forces in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the U.S. mainland and reduce them to ashes.”

Graham Heaps Praise on Trump

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) enthusiastically praised President Trump for his foreign policy, “a continued departure from his sharp criticism of Trump during the 2016 race and even after the election,” Politico reports.

Said Graham: “I am like the happiest dude in America right now. We have got a president and a national security team that I’ve been dreaming of for eight years.”

Trump Still Closely Following Obama Foreign Policy

First Read: “The Trump administration certified that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal… though Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the administration is weighing whether to break the deal. The Trump administration admitting that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal — despite so much GOP rhetoric to the contrary — is another reminder that, besides its rhetoric and firing off some cruise missiles in Syria, the Team Trump is still pretty much following the Obama playbook, at least when it comes to actions.”

North Korea Images Show Volleyball, Not Nuclear Tests

“U.S. experts who have been forecasting an imminent North Korean nuclear test said on Tuesday they were surprised when they viewed their latest satellite images of the country’s nuclear test site and saw volleyball games under way,” Reuters reports.

“With tension mounting between Pyongyang and Washington, analysts had thought they would see activity suggesting preparations for an underground explosion at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and were not expecting what the photos, taken on Sunday by a commercial satellite, revealed.”

Pence Threatens North Korea with Military Action

“Vice President Pence warned North Korea Monday that it could be in for the same treatment as Syria and Afghanistan – both of which the Trump administration has bombed this month – if it continues with its nuclear program,” the Washington Post reports.

“The stark warning, delivered in Seoul after the vice president went to the military demarcation that separates the two Koreas, could revive speculation that the White House is considering military action against the regime in Pyongyang.”

New York Times: “A Cuban Missile Crisis in Slow Motion”

Trump Stays Quiet After Latest North Korea Provocation

“The president was uncharacteristically quiet after North Korea’s latest failed missile launch, leaving it to his team of deputies, as well as Vice President Pence to articulate the administration’s policy toward the totalitarian regime,” the Washington Post reports.

Wall Street Journal: “In the wake of Pyongyang’s failed missile test over the weekend, Trump administration officials stepped up pressure on Beijing, saying the threat has reached an inflection point that demands new urgency.”

North Korean Show of Strength Fizzles

“North Korea launched a ballistic missile Sunday morning from near its submarine base in Sinpo on its east coast, but the launch failed,” the New York Times reports.

“The timing was a deep embarrassment for the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, because the missile appeared to have been launched to show off his daring as a fleet of American warships approached his country to deter provocations.”

“The missile blew up almost immediately, and the type of missile involved was still being assessed.”

Mike Allen: “Inside of 100 days of his presidency, Trump faces a huge provocation, and a massive challenge to diplomatic and military machinery that are new to his teams. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to want war, and China has warned the tensions could spiral out of control. It’s Trump’s biggest test.”

Trump Demands Gold-Plated Welcome from Queen

“Donald Trump waving from the Queen’s royal carriage is not a scenario many would have foreseen a year ago, but it has become a very real prospect, forcing security services to plan an unprecedented lockdown,” the Times of London reports.

“The White House has made clear it regards the carriage procession down the Mall as an essential element of the itinerary for the visit currently planned for the second week of October… Security sources have warned, however, that the procession will require a ‘monster’ security operation, far greater than for any recent state visit.”