February 15, 2017

North Korea to Donald Trump: Challenge Accepted

By Patrick M. Cronin

The exclusive, members-only Mar-a-Lago Club is accustomed to keeping out riffraff, but not even Donald Trump’s private retreat fortified by Secret Service agents could prevent Kim Jong-un from intruding upon his golf-diplomacy summit with Shinzo Abe. Test firing a nuclear-capable missile into the Sea of Japan provides a type of admission, albeit a very expensive and unwelcome one.

The test also interrupted forty-eight hours of hugely successful Asia diplomacy for the Trump administration. It abruptly changed the conversation from an invigorated U.S.-Japan alliance and a stabilized U.S.-China relationship. Thus, less than a month into a hugger-mugger transition of power, President Trump’s besieged and revolving national-security team could be forgiven if North Korea’s missile launch—followed by the reported poisoning of Kim Jong-un’s half brother—made some recall Henry Kissinger’s quip that “there cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.”

Kim was counting on creating a crisis for the fledgling Trump administration. By firing a mobile, solid-fuel intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) from an air base near the northwest frontier with China, Kim maximized the element of surprise to ensure intelligence agencies had none of the early-warning signals that would attend a fixed-site, liquid-fuel launch. Kim also chose the moment to provide sharp contrast between his thrusting missile capabilities and the no longer de-stressing leaders of the region’s strongest alliance.

Read the full article at The National Interest.

  • Commentary
    • May 11, 2022
    Sharper: The Authoritarianism Challenge

    Autocratic leadership is on the rise globally. Even in democratic nations, leaders are eroding checks on their power and weakening institutions. The use of illiberal technolog...

    By Anna Pederson

  • Commentary
    • April 27, 2022
    Sharper: Taiwan

    Taiwan plays a pivotal role in East Asian and global affairs. It has long been a central point of contention in the strategic competition between the United States and China. ...

    By Anna Pederson & Jacob Stokes

  • Video
    • April 27, 2022
    If India won't readjust ties with Russia, questions will be asked about Indo-US ties

    ThePrint's Senior Consulting Editor Jyoti Malhotra speaks to Lisa Curtis about the impact of India's relationship with Russia on ties with Russia. Watch the full interview fr...

    By Lisa Curtis

  • Commentary
    • The Observer Research Foundation
    • April 26, 2022
    Creating Waves in the Indo-Pacific: Reverberations from Russia’s War in Ukraine

    Russia’s war in Ukraine is making it increasingly difficult—perhaps impossible— for India to be able to straddle the US-Russia divide for much longer....

    By Lisa Curtis

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia