Archive for the ‘Japan’ category

Abe cruises to ‘super-majority’ win in Japan vote

October 22, 2017

Abe cruises to ‘super-majority’ win in Japan vote, BreitbartAFP, October 22, 2017


Tokyo (AFP) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe swept to a resounding victory in a snap election Sunday and immediately vowed to “deal firmly” with threats from North Korea that dominated the campaign.

Abe’s ruling conservative coalition was on track to win more than 310 seats in the 465-seat parliament, according to a projection from public broadcaster NHK, handing the premier a two-thirds “super-majority.”

This allows nationalist Abe to propose changes to pacifist Japan’s US-imposed constitution, which forces it to renounce war and effectively limits its military to a self-defence role.

Abe said the comfortable election win had stiffened his resolve to tackle North Korea’s nuclear threat, as the key US regional ally seeks to step up pressure on Pyongyang after it fired two missiles over Japan in the space of a month.

“As I promised in the election, my imminent task is to firmly deal with North Korea,” said Abe, who is now on course to become the country’s longest-serving leader.

“For that, strong diplomacy is required,” stressed the 63 year-old, who has courted both US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Abe said he would “deepen” debate on the divisive constitution issue in parliament but stressed: “I don’t plan to propose (changes) via the ruling bloc alone. We’ll make efforts to gain support from as many people as possible.”

As results came in, television images showed jubilant victorious lawmakers bowing deeply before punching the air with cries of “Banzai”, the Japanese equivalent of three cheers.

– ‘Very severe result’ –

Millions of Japanese braved torrential rain and driving winds to vote as a typhoon lashed the country, with many heeding warnings to cast their ballots early.

“I support Abe’s stance not to give in to North Korea’s pressure,” said Yoshihisa Iemori as he cast his ballot in a rainswept Tokyo.

Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) benefited from a weak and splintered opposition, with the two main parties facing him created only a matter of weeks ago.

Support for the Party of Hope founded by popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike fizzled after an initial blaze of publicity and was on track to win around 50 seats, according to the NHK projection with a handful still to call.

Speaking from Paris where she was attending an event in her capacity as leader of the world’s biggest city, a sullen-faced Koike said it was a “very severe result.”

“As the person who launched the party, I will take responsibility,” pledged Koike.

The new centre-left Constitutional Democratic Party fared slightly better than expected but still trailed far behind Abe with a projected 50 seats.

“The LDP’s victory is simply because the opposition couldn’t form a united front,” political scientist Mikitaka Masuyama from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, told AFP.

– ‘Sink’ Japan –

The short 12-day campaign was dominated by the economy and the global crisis over North Korea, which has threatened to “sink” Japan into the sea and engaged in a war of words with Trump.

Hawkish Abe stuck to a hardline stance throughout, stressing that Japan “would not waver” in the face of an increasingly belligerent regime in Pyongyang.

But many voters said reviving the once-mighty Japanese economy was the top priority, with Abe’s trademark “Abenomics” growth policy failing to trickle down to the general public.

“Neither pensions nor wages are getting better… I don’t feel the economy is recovering at all,” said 67-year-old pensioner Hideki Kawasaki.

Although voters turned out in their millions to back Abe, he enjoys only lukewarm support and surveys showed his decision to call a snap election a year earlier than expected was unpopular.

“I totally oppose the current government. Morals collapsed. I’m afraid this country will be broken,” said 84-year-old voter Etsuko Nakajima.

– ‘I’m quite disappointed’ –

Koike briefly promised to shake up Japan’s sleepy political scene with her new party but she declined to run herself for a seat, sparking confusion over who would be prime minister if she won.

In the end the 65-year-old former TV presenter was not even in Japan on election day.

“I thought that I would vote for the Party of Hope if it’s strong enough to beat the Abe administration. But the party has been in confusion … I’m quite disappointed,” said 80-year-old pensioner Kumiko Fujimori.

The campaign was marked by a near-constant drizzle in large parts of the country and rallies frequently took place under shelter and a sea of umbrellas.

But this did not dampen the enthusiasm of hundreds of doughty, sash-wearing parliamentary hopefuls, who have driven around in minibuses pleading for votes via loudspeaker and bowing deeply to every potential voter.

Haley Says ‘No Value’ in Another UN Resolution Against North Korea: ‘The Time for Talk Is Over’

July 31, 2017

Haley Says ‘No Value’ in Another UN Resolution Against North Korea: ‘The Time for Talk Is Over’ Washington Free Beacon , July 31, 2017

( Sounds like serious shit… – JW )

Nikki Haley / Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday that she is ready to take action and not just hold more talks following North Korea’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch.

Haley released a statement denying that the U.S. was seeking to form an emergency session at the U.N. She said that it would be useless and even counterproductive to further sanction the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un without action.

“There is no point in having an emergency session if it produces nothing of consequence,” she said. “North Korea is already subject to numerous Security Council resolutions that they violate with impunity and that are not complied with by all U.N. Member States.”

“An additional security council resolution that does not significantly increase the international pressure on North Korea is of no value,” Haley said. “In fact, it is worse than nothing, because it sends the message to the North Korean dictator that the international community is unwilling to seriously challenge him.”

She directly addressed China, the regime’s closest ally, and said that Beijing must intervene. China has insisted that it is not responsible for North Korea, even as the U.S. has accused the Chinese leadership of propping up Pyongyang.

“China must decide whether it is finally willing to take this vital step. The time for talk is over,” Haley said. “The danger the North Korean regime poses to international peace is now clear to all.”

President Donald Trump also focused his Twitter fire on China. He said on Saturday that China does nothing on North Korea despite having “easy” options to “solve this problem.”

I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet…

…they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!

China hit back on Monday after Trump’s tweets. The Chinese Foreign Ministry, in a statement sent to Reuters, said the international community needs to work together to address the North Korean nuclear issue and that China is not responsible for Pyongyang’s aggression.

South Korea announced Saturday that it will begin talking with the Trump administration about expanding the country’s nuclear capabilities. The Chinese have opposed any actions that would put Seoul in control of nuclear weapons.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also told reporters that the Trump administration promised to “take all necessary measures to protect” Japan.

North Korea launched its latest test missile into Japanese waters on Friday.

While Nobody’s Looking, China And India Are Carrying Out A Real-Life ‘Game Of Thrones’

July 20, 2017

While Nobody’s Looking, China And India Are Carrying Out A Real-Life ‘Game Of Thrones’, The Federalist, July 20, 2017

(The article, dated July 20th, states, “Starting this week, India is holding naval exercises with the United States and Japan, a move viewed by observers as a show of force against China’s rising naval power.” However, the link provided, dated July 10th, states that “The Malabar exercises involving Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force and the US and Indian navies are taking place in the Bay of Bengal and will last until July 17.” Please see also, Malabar Exercise: India, US and Japan deploy its biggest carriers in show of force against China’s growing naval power at Warsclerotic. — DM)

The Asian version of the conflict between House Lannister and House Stark is playing out over a patch of remote land high in the Himalayas, bordered by China, India, and Bhutan. The Chinese dragon and the Indian tiger, the two most populous nations with nuclear weapons, are engaging in their worst border dispute in 40 years, which has turned this spit of land into the most dangerous place in Asia.

You haven’t heard anything about it until now because the U.S. media is so focused on who talked to whom during the 2016 presidential campaign that they can’t spare any resources to report on truly consequential events taking place around the world.

China and India share a very long border of more than 2,000 miles. The two countries have engaged in various border disputes since the nineteenth century. They even fought a war in 1962 over border issues. China claimed it won the war but India only admitted that the war resulted in a stalemate and left many border issues unresolved.

The most recent border dispute started in June, when Indian soldiers stopped a Chinese army construction crew from building a road in a pocket of land in the Dokalam region. Since this land lies between Bhutan, China, and the Indian state of Sikkim, all three countries claim ownership of it. China calls this region Donglang and treats it as part of Chinese-controlled Tibet. Thus, China firmly believes that it has every right to build the road within its sovereign territory. China let India know that “trespass into Chinese territory is a blatant infringement on China’s sovereignty, which should be immediately and unconditionally rectified.” However, Bhutan and India disagree.

This Land Is My Land

Bhutan is a tiny country wedged between two nuclear-armed superpowers. It doesn’t have an official diplomatic relationship with China. The government of Bhutan issued a demarche to China over the road construction, asking China to stop. Since Bhutan has a close relationship with India and relies on India for security protection, it also asked India for help. China has tried unsuccessfully to break the Bhutan-India alliance by engaging Bhutan directly. Bhutan, however, follows India’s lead on this matter.

From India’s perspective, it intervenes on behalf of both India and Bhutan because both have historical claims to the disputed land. Since Beijing and New Delhi agreed back in 2012 to solve their particular border dispute in this tri-junction area through consultations with all countries involved, New Delhi regards China’s recent road construction as a unilateral violation of the 2012 understanding.

Furthermore, India’s military is concerned that the road China intends to build will give China easier access to a strategically important area in India, which is known as the “chicken’s neck,” “a 20km (12-mile) wide corridor that links the seven north-eastern states to the Indian mainland.” If China’s road project succeeds, India military believes it would diminish their own “terrain and tactical advantage” over the Chinese army in this area.

India is also suspicious of the road project’s timing. The construction began right around the same time that India’s Prime Minister Modi was giving U.S. President Trump bear hugs and President Trump proclaimed that the U.S.-India relationship was “never better.” Did China try to warn India not to get too close to the United States by starting a road construction in the disputed area at this particular time? Many in India seem to think so.

Soldiers Face Off ‘Eyeball to Eyeball’

The border standoff continues with no obvious solution in sight. Both China and India increased their troop levels at the border. Online video shows soldiers from both countries facing off “eyeball to eyeball.” So far no one has fired the first shot yet, but the war of words has been heating up, not just at the border, but through both countries’ government officials and media.

China’s ambassador to India said “the first priority is that the Indian troops unconditionally pull back to the Indian side of the boundary. That is the precondition for any meaningful dialogue between China and India.” Chinese media used the 1962 Sino-India border war as an example to forewarn India that if the two sides get into a military conflict again, India will have the most to lose. Chinese media also warned Tibetan exiles in India not to take advantage of the situation because “sovereignty over Tibet is nonnegotiable.”

Indian Defense and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley fired back at China’s rhetoric by reminding China that the India of 2017 is not the India of 1962. He further pointed out that China’s intended construction site was on “Bhutan’s land, close to the Indian border, and Bhutan and India have an arrangement to provide security…To say we will come there and grab the land of some other country is what China is doing and it is absolutely wrong.”

Any Misstep Can Be Fatal

This dispute is a reflection of a deeper problem: the underlying, deep-rooted mistrust and hostility between China and India. Each feels insecure of the other nation’s growing economic and military power. These two countries, with a combined population of more than 2 billion people, both have nuclear weapons and strong nationalistic leaders, and are elbowing each other for the iron throne—ultimate dominance in the region. No one is willing to back down at this point.

Besides border disputes, both nations have breathed plenty of fires to irritate the other side. China’s pipeline project with Myanmar not only allows China to have easier access to cheap oil, but also enables Chinese ships to be present in India’s eastern backyard. India snubbed China’s “One Belt and One Road”(OBOR) economic summit in May by not sending a high-level delegation. India media even called the OBOR initiative “a new kind of colonization.” Starting this week, India is holding naval exercises with the United States and Japan, a move viewed by observers as a show of force against China’s rising naval power.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from the 1962 war, it’s this: any miscalculation or any missteps by either nation could lead to a war with devastating consequences not just for the region, but for the rest of the world. Therefore, it’s absolutely essential that the two nations find a peaceful resolution to their border dispute as soon as possible.

The United States probably will need support from both China and India to deal with the rising threat from North Korea. Therefore, it’s in the United States’ best interest to serve as a mediator to help both nations reach a diplomatic solution, before the “Game of Thrones” Asian edition moves from a fantasy to a bloody reality.

Helen Raleigh owns Red Meadow Advisors, LLC, and is an immigration policy fellow at the Centennial Institute in Colorado. She is the author of several books, including “Confucius Never Said” and “The Broken Welcome Mat.

Malabar Exercise: India, US and Japan deploy its biggest carriers in show of force against China’s growing naval power

July 10, 2017

Malabar Exercise: India, US and Japan deploy its biggest carriers in show of force against China’s growing naval power, South China Morning Post, July 10, 2017

(Please see also, Commentary: India must understand borderline is bottom line from Chinese official paper Xinhua. “India should rectify its mistakes and show sincerity to avoid an even more serious situation creating more significant consequences.” — DM)

Troops from the two nuclear-armed neighbours have for weeks been engaged in a stand-off on a disputed section of land high near what is known as the trijunction, where Tibet, India and Bhutan meet.

China has alleged that the Indian troops are on its soil, but both Bhutan and India say the area in question is Bhutanese territory.


India began holding naval exercises with the United States and Japan off its south coast on Monday, seeking to forge closer military ties to counter growing Chinese influence in the region.

India has a longstanding territorial dispute with its northern neighbour, which is also expanding its naval presence in the region.

It is the fourth consecutive year Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force (MSDF) has taken part in the Malabar Exercise, conducted annually by the US and India in the Bay of Bengal since 1992.

In a statement, the US said the exercises had “grown in scope and complexity over the years to address the variety of shared threats to maritime security in the Indo-Asia Pacific”.

About 20 vessels including the world’s largest aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz, are participating in drills which will last until July 17.

Helicopter carrier Izumo, the biggest Japanese warship since the second world war, and India’s aircraft carrier Vikramaditya are also participating in the exercises.

China has stepped up its activities in the Indian Ocean in recent years, building ports in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The area also features heavily in Beijing’s new One Belt One Road initiative to revive ancient trade routes from Asia, which has caused concerns in New Delhi.

Troops from the two nuclear-armed neighbours have for weeks been engaged in a stand-off on a disputed section of land high near what is known as the trijunction, where Tibet, India and Bhutan meet.

China has alleged that the Indian troops are on its soil, but both Bhutan and India say the area in question is Bhutanese territory.

The maritime exercises come weeks after US President Donald Trump declared that ties between Washington and New Delhi had “never been stronger” as he held his first talks with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Beijing already claims large swathes of the resource-rich South China Sea and East China Sea, putting it in competition with Japan and other countries in the region.

China Is Ticking All the Boxes on Its Path to War

June 16, 2017

China Is Ticking All the Boxes on Its Path to War, American ThinkerDavid Archibald, June 16, 2017

(China has provided significant but inadequate help with the North Korea problem. If the war upon which China appears to be intent comes, will China consider continued cooperation as to North Korean nukes and missiles in her interest? — DM)

After trending down for two years, the rate of incursions [by China in the South China Sea] is now trending up. The Chinese government pays their fishing fleet to do this. Now, would any civilized country expecting to live in everlasting peace with its neighbors do this? None would, and so the Chinese are telling us that war is coming. Prepare accordingly


There are currently three communiques that have guided U.S.-China relations for the last 45 years. These joint statements by the U.S. and Chinese governments were signed in 1972, 1979, and 1982. Among other things, the second communique states that, “Neither should seek hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region or in any other region of the world”.

China has recently been attempting to have the U.S. sign onto a Fourth Communique under which the U.S. would no longer consider Taiwan as an ally or deal with it in any military or diplomatic terms. In effect, the U.S. would peacefully decline and leave the Western Pacific to China. The White House rejected it prior to the meeting of the U.S. and Chinese presidents on April 6-7 at Mar-a-Lago. It was raised again by Henry Kissinger, now in the pay of the Chinese government, at his meeting with President Trump on May 10.

It has been said that President Xi wants the Fourth Communique to crown his consolidation of power at the national congress of Communist Party of China in autumn this year. But he is likely indifferent. If the U.S. could be talked into abandoning the Western Pacific and all its allies in Asia, that would be a bonus. It is more likely that he is making a casus belli for the war that he wants and thus head off intra-party criticism for military adventurism with its attendant horrors. China expects to win a short, sharp, glorious war.

China, the U.S., Japan and Vietnam are all expecting war. China may have claimed all of the South China Sea but Vietnam still has 17 island bases there. These are a major long-term embarrassment to China. Vietnam will not give them up voluntarily so China will attempt to remove them by force – thus the current buildup of China’s amphibious warfare capability. China would also attack Vietnam along their land border to put maximum pressure on Hanoi.

Satellite imagery suggests preparations are being made to that end. For example at 22° 24’ N, 106° 42’ E, there are 12 large warehouses across the road from an army base that is six miles from the border with Vietnam. We can tell it’s an army base because it has a running track. China’s three major bases in the South China Sea and all have running tracks and 24 hardened shelters for fighter aircraft. The warehouses have red roofs when almost all the industrial buildings in the region have blue roofs, suggesting a central directive for their construction. The purpose of the warehouses would be to hide an armored force buildup prior to the invasion of Vietnam.

Warehouses at 22° 24’ N, 106° 42’ E, image date 8/25/2016

Along parts of the China-Vietnam border, there are areas with an abundance of roads leading up to the border and ending in pads suitable for artillery. These likely preparations give us an indication of what China’s war plans for Vietnam might include, just as the ten-pad, expeditionary helicopter base in the Nanji Islands at 27° 27’ N, 121° 4’ E provides China with an option to attack Japan in the Senkaku Islands.

Just because China hasn’t been involved in many wars in the last 60 years doesn’t mean that it is not belligerent. A case in point is the attacks China mounted on Vietnam from 1980 to 1990 seemingly just for the sake of it, after the 1979 China-Vietnam war. China’s then-leader, Deng Xiaoping, rotated army units through the front to give them combat experience. It didn’t matter that they were killing Vietnamese to do so. During the five-year period from 1984 to 1989, the Chinese fired over two million artillery rounds into Ha Giang Province, mainly into an eight-square-mile area. Chinese antipathy for its neighbors is essentially racist – if everyone else is a barbarian, their deaths will be of little consequence.

The Chinese dream of hegemony in Asia has been a long time coming. The map following is from a Nationalist primary school textbook from 1938:

A bit like Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, it has China extending as far south as Singapore. China’s ambitions now include incorporation of the Philippines.

China is now back to seeking hegemony of the Asia-Pacific region and so that voids the Second Communique. Fortunately President Trump’s advisers, recognizing the reality of the situation, have suggested that all three communiques be scrapped.

The question from here is the timing of China’s war. China’s bases in the Spratly Islands are now essentially complete. All they have to do from here is fly in the fighter aircraft. It is thought that China’s strategic petroleum reserve is near full after its stockpiling rate fell from the peak in March 2017 at 1.6 million barrels per day. Another sign that war is approaching and not receding is that the rate of Chinese incursions into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands:

The big increase in mid-2012 was due to the ascension of President Xi.  After trending down for two years, the rate of incursions is now trending up. The Chinese government pays their fishing fleet to do this. Now, would any civilized country expecting to live in everlasting peace with its neighbors do this? None would, and so the Chinese are telling us that war is coming. Prepare accordingly.

Japan vows ‘specific action’ with US to deter N. Korea

May 29, 2017

Japan vows ‘specific action’ with US to deter N. Korea, The HillKyle Balluck, May 29, 2017

(Please don’t tell us until after it’s done. — DM)

© Getty

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is vowing “specific action” with the U.S. to deter North Korea in the wake of Pyongyang’s latest missile test.

“As we agreed at the recent G7, the issue of North Korea is a top priority for the international community,” Abe told reporters on Monday, according to Reuters. “Working with the United States, we will take specific action to deter North Korea.”

The news service added that Japan protested the test.

U.S. Pacific Command said it detected the launch of a short-range ballistic missile from a site near Wonsan Airfield on Sunday. It tracked the missile for approximately six minutes until it landed in the Sea of Japan.

“We are working with our Interagency partners on a more detailed assessment. We continue to monitor North Korea’s actions closely,” U.S. Pacific Command said in a statement, adding that it “stands behind our ironclad commitment to the security of our allies in the Republic of Korea and Japan.”

A National Security Council spokesman said President Trump was briefed on the latest North Korean test.

Pyongyang said last week that it was ready to deploy a new medium-range missile as part of an “answer” to Trump’s policies. The North also fired a missile hours before Trump delivered a major speech in Saudi Arabia earlier this month.

Waiting for North Korea’s Next Nuclear Test

May 28, 2017

Waiting for North Korea’s Next Nuclear Test, PJMedia, Claudia Rosett, May 27, 2017

(To the extent that history is a good predictor of the future, more sanctions — even if enforced briefly — won’t work. Regime change, maybe. But how can we find a suitable replacement for Kim Chi-un Kim Jong-un? Has the recent high-level defector been asked? It would be stupid to let the Norks know whether he has been and, even worse, what, if anything, he said because anyone he suggested would be killed. No matter how much the leakers and media would like to know, secrecy is absolutely necessary. –DM)

In this undated photo distributed by the North Korean government Monday, May 22, 2017, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the test launch of a solid-fuel “Pukguksong-2” at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

The threats from North Korea keep rising — not only its nuclear program, but such matters as its cyber warfare projects, plus the example Pyongyang continues to set of how a malign and predatory tyranny can survive by arming itself with the world’s most destructive weapons and threatening liberally to use them. We should have no doubt that Iran and others are taking notes.

What’s certain is this: None of this will be resolved by America writing off regime change as the real goal in Pyongyang while waiting to respond with another stack of UN sanctions, however neatly pre-negotiated, to North Korea’s next nuclear test.


Just last month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the United Nations Security Council that the era of letting North Korea call the shots was over. Commenting on a record in which North Korea has carried out five nuclear tests since 2006, two of them just last year, Tillerson said: “For too long the international community has been reactive in addressing North Korea.” He added, “Those days must come to an end. Failing to act now on the most pressing security issue in the world may bring catastrophic consequences.”

Yet here we are, with Reuters reporting, based on a news conference held Friday in Beijing by senior State Department official Susan Thornton, that the U.S. is “looking at discussing with China a new Security Council resolution on pre-negotiated measures to reduce delays in any response to further nuclear tests or other provocations from the North.”

In other words, the U.S. is waiting to react to North Korea’s next nuclear test, which North Korean officials have already threatened to carry out, and for which preparations have been visibly underway.

With the variation that the diplomatic response (providing China agrees) would be “pre-negotiated,” this sounds disturbingly similar to the ritual that President Obama’s administration dolled up under the fatuous label of “strategic patience.” The result, on Obama’s watch, was that North Korea carried out four of its five nuclear tests to date, and accelerated its missile program to include over the past three years — as The Wall Street Journal reported recently — the launches of “more major missiles than in the three previous decades combined.”

The Obama ritual went like this: North Korea would carry out a forbidden nuclear test (in 2009, 2013, and two in 2016). The U.S. would turn to the UN Security Council, which after a period of closed-door wrangling would respond by approving yet another sanctions resolution, which would then be advertised by the U.S. as tough… tougher… toughest. Whatever.

Recall America’s former ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, declaring after the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2270 in March 2016 (in response to North Korea’s fourth nuclear test) that “this resolution is so comprehensive, there are many provisions that leave no gap, no window.” That resolution was followed last September by North Korea’s fifth nuclear test, to which the UN responded by adding to the gapless, windowless sanctions resolution #2270 the even more gapless and windowless resolution #2321.

One might reasonably ask: Why reserve all those ever tougher sanctions for North Korea’s next nuclear test, or the one after that? If gapless, windowless sanctions have yet more holes that need plugging, why not do it all now?

If I might hazard a guess, the obstacle is not solely that veto-wielding permanent Security Council members China and Russia have no serious interest in trying to throttle North Korea’s Kim regime. Even when they vote for those ever tougher UN sanctions, they have been, to put it generously, highly casual about enforcing them. On the evidence, China — despite its public expressions of disapproval and disappointment over each North Korean nuclear test — has nonetheless, for decades now, allowed North Korea to proceed. It is past time to ask quite seriously whether Beijing (never mind its public posturing) reached a quiet decision quite some years ago that China can live comfortably enough with a nuclear-armed North Korea that dedicates itself to bedeviling such leading democracies as South Korea, America and Japan.

Nor is the problem solely that sanctions, to whatever degree they are attempted, have virtually no chance of forcing North Korea into a good-faith deal to give up its long-established, deeply entrenched nuclear program. In previous talks and deals (1994, 2005, 2007, as well as President Obama’s attempted 2012 so-called Leap Day missile-freeze deal), Pyongyang racked up an unbroken record of lying, cheating, pocketing the gains and carrying on with its threats and WMD projects.

In the prime case in which sanctions did seem to get serious traction — when U.S. sanctions persuaded Macau in 2005 to freeze North Korea-linked accounts in Banco Delta Asia — North Korea went ahead in 2006 with its first nuclear test, then came to the bargaining table for a deal in 2007, and took to the cleaners the eager diplomats of President Bush’s “soft power” second term.  The antics of that era included State Department special envoy Chris Hill demanding the help of the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve to transfer back to North Korea, via the banking system (at North Korea’s behest), some $25 million in tainted funds that had been frozen at Banco Delta Asia in Macau; a U.S. handout of millions to pay Pyongyang for the Potemkin spectacle in 2008 of blowing up a dispensable cooling tower at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex; and the removal of North Korea from the U.S. government’s blacklist of terror-sponsoring states (a concession which to this day the State Department has yet to remedy). The 2007 deal fell apart as Bush was leaving office, and in May of 2009 North Korea welcomed Obama’s presidency by conducting its second nuclear test.

Today, with North Korea working at speed toward an ability to target the United States, the U.S. fallback is to try to pressure China, under threat of sanctions that would hurt China itself, to defang North Korea. That approach allows for plenty of employment in Washington, in the debates, design and attempts to apply such sanctions. But somewhere out there lies the question of how to sustain any such approach, on the ground (and the seas) in Asia, and where it might actually lead. Sanctions tend to erode over time, as their targets adapt. If North Korea is richly capable of the duplicities that have repeatedly foiled nuclear negotiators, China has vastly more reach and resources available for its own gambits. Even if the ever-tougher-sanctions approach leads to a deal, who or what then guarantees (the deep flaws of Obama’s Iran nuclear deal  come to mind) that once the strictures are loosened, North Korea, or China, would abide by that deal? (Forget the UN, which has to date failed abysmally to stop North Korea’s nuclear program, and which relies on individual member states to police their own enforcement of sanctions.)

The further fallback is the threat of U.S.-led military force, which is what the Trump administration is now turning to in a number of ways, including the deployment of a third aircraft carrier group as part of the “armada” Trump is sending to the Western Pacific. Part of the idea here is also to put China on notice that the U.S. is serious.

The problem here is that to be effective, military threats need to be credible. After eight years of Obama’s “patience,” following North Korea’s successes with its nuclear extortion racket going back to the early 1990s, the consistent signal from three U.S. presidents — Obama, Bush and Clinton — has been that the U.S. for all its vast firepower would rather be snookered at the bargaining table, or simply do nothing, than actually risk a military strike that could turn into a hot war with North Korea.

It doesn’t help that on May 19 Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Pentagon reporters that any military solution to North Korea would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale,” so “our effort is to work with the U.N., work with China, work with Japan, work with South Korea to try to find a way out of this situation.” Nor does it help that on May 23, 64 Democratic lawmakers sent a public letter to Trump, asking for details of his plans for a negotiated solution of “the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula,” and warning Trump against including in any such plans an “ill-advised military component.” If — after the agonies of the 1950-1953 Korean War, and in view of North Korea’s current military threat to Seoul and increasingly dangerous arsenal — the U.S. is not prepared to go to war again to stop North Korea, then the prudent course would be at least to keep quiet about it. Otherwise, the result is to neuter any U.S. threat of force, further emboldening North Korea.

Which brings us to the core problem, the grand dilemma looming behind all the machinations described above. There is really only one way out of this situation, only one real solution, and that is an end to the Kim regime in North Korea. On humanitarian grounds alone, the fall or overthrow of the Kim regime would be fully justified, and is long, long overdue. In view of North Korea’s rising threats to others, its growing arsenal, its record of peddling munitions to the likes of Syria and Iran, and its unbroken record of abusing any and all deals, there is no other answer. The Kim regime has to go.

But getting rid of the Kim regime is in itself risky. However it might happen, whether Kim’s regime might be destroyed by military force, throttled by sanctions, overthrown from within, or somehow shoved from power through some combination of these factors, no one knows exactly what might follow, or how things might then play out.

And so, with variations that have repeatedly failed to end the threat, one U.S. administration after another has defaulted to a “status quo” in which the effort is not to get rid of the Kim regime, but to manage it — as if it were some sort of highly unpleasant chronic medical condition.

Thus did  Tillerson tell the UN Security Council meeting last month, at its special meeting on North Korea, that “our goal is not regime change, nor do we desire to threaten the North Korean people or destabilize the Asia Pacific region.”

Newsflash: The Asia Pacific region is already being destabilized, by nuclear-arming North Korea itself, as well as China — with its own military buildup, its island-building territorial grabs offshore, and its threats to freedom of navigation. What we are witnessing is not a durable status quo, but a trajectory, in which a U.S. impulse for peace in our time keeps steering us toward cataclysm ahead. What Obama achieved with his “strategic patience” was to postpone the day of reckoning long enough to hand off a threat grown vastly worse to his successor.

How this gets resolved in any way favorable, or even remotely safe, for America and its democratic allies is a hideous conundrum. But the situation right now is very far from safe. The threats from North Korea keep rising — not only its nuclear program, but such matters as its cyber warfare projects, plus the example Pyongyang continues to set of how a malign and predatory tyranny can survive by arming itself with the world’s most destructive weapons and threatening liberally to use them. We should have no doubt that Iran and others are taking notes.

What’s certain is this: None of this will be resolved by America writing off regime change as the real goal in Pyongyang while waiting to respond with another stack of UN sanctions, however neatly pre-negotiated, to North Korea’s next nuclear test.