Posted tagged ‘Trump and China’

John Bolton: Trump ‘in the Right Place’ on North Korea, but State Dept. Continues 25 Years of Failed Policy

June 23, 2017

John Bolton: Trump ‘in the Right Place’ on North Korea, but State Dept. Continues 25 Years of Failed Policy, BreitbartJohn Hayward, June 23, 2017

(Reunification of North and South Korea would be very expensive for South Korea and may not be as appealing to South Korea as it once was. China is very much opposed because it perceives — wrongly in my view — a unified Korea on its border as a threat. How about unification of North Korea and China instead? — DM)

“We’ve tried that for 25 years with respect to the nuclear program. It has had no effect. I don’t think you can change the behavior of the North Korean regime because I don’t think you can change its character,” he said.

“That, to me, is why the only real solution to eliminate the nuclear threat, to stop this treatment of both foreigners and their own citizens, to give the people of North Korea a chance for a decent life, you have to end the regime. My own view is you reunite North and South Korea. The U.S. has to persuade China it’s in their interests to do it. It’s a heavy lift. I acknowledge that. But otherwise, we just keep doing what we’ve done ever since this regime was formed shortly after World War II. It only respects force, and nobody wants to see use of force on the Korean peninsula today, with its potentially tragic consequences,” said Bolton.

“The State Department can keep doing what it’s done unsuccessfully for 25 years. Year 26 is going to be exactly the same. I think we’ve got to try something very, very different. If we don’t, we’re going to get the same result,” he cautioned.

Bolton said he thinks President Trump himself is “in the right place on this.”

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On Friday’s Breitbart News Daily, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton talked about the death of American student Otto Warmbier, recently released from more than a year of captivity in North Korea, most of which he spent in a coma. He also discussed what Warmbier’s death means for America’s North Korea policy moving forward. Bolton then looked at the one-year anniversary of the Brexit vote and U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“It’s obviously a personal tragedy,” Bolton told SiriusXM host Alex Marlow. “Here’s a perfectly healthy young man, goes to North Korea, and comes back and dies a few days later. Obviously, we are all feeling for his family and his friends.”

“But I think for the United States as a whole, the lesson here is about the character of the North Korean regime: that they’re so barbaric, that even if you take everything they say as true, that Otto Warmbier stole a political poster – you know, that’s what college kids do. Slap him on the wrist, put him in jail for a day, kick him out of the country. That’s what civilized countries do, but not North Korea,” he said.

“Not only did they brutalize him; they lied about it consistently for a year-and-a-half,” he noted. “They’re still holding three other Americans. They have a long history of kidnapping South Korean and Japanese citizens over the past several decades. This is the way they treat foreigners. They run a 25-million-person prison camp in their own country, under just horribly primitive conditions for most citizens. And they’re pursuing deliverable nuclear weapons and appear to be pretty close to achieving that.”

“This is not a regime that you can reason with in the same sense Americans think of that term,” Bolton contended. “They may be rational in terms of the regime in North Korea, but it’s not rational in our terms. That’s why I’m somewhat distressed with the Trump administration reaction, or at least the State Department reaction of saying, ‘Well, we’re just going to apply more pressure on North Korea to get them to change their behavior.’”

“We’ve tried that for 25 years with respect to the nuclear program. It has had no effect. I don’t think you can change the behavior of the North Korean regime because I don’t think you can change its character,” he said.

“That, to me, is why the only real solution to eliminate the nuclear threat, to stop this treatment of both foreigners and their own citizens, to give the people of North Korea a chance for a decent life, you have to end the regime. My own view is you reunite North and South Korea. The U.S. has to persuade China it’s in their interests to do it. It’s a heavy lift. I acknowledge that. But otherwise, we just keep doing what we’ve done ever since this regime was formed shortly after World War II. It only respects force, and nobody wants to see use of force on the Korean peninsula today, with its potentially tragic consequences,” said Bolton.

“The State Department can keep doing what it’s done unsuccessfully for 25 years. Year 26 is going to be exactly the same. I think we’ve got to try something very, very different. If we don’t, we’re going to get the same result,” he cautioned.

Bolton said he thinks President Trump himself is “in the right place on this.”

“I think he, as much as anybody – maybe more than anybody in his administration – understands the danger of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program,” Bolton added. I think he understands and said publicly what a terrible treatment Otto Warmbier received. It should never happen to anybody and shouldn’t happen again.”

“He’s just tweeted a few days ago he doesn’t think China has delivered on the commitments Xi Jinping made when he was here in the United States at the Mar-a-Lago summit. What Trump said then, what he’s implied in the tweet, is that China’s jiving us again – as they have been on North Korea for 25 years, and the United States will have to solve this on its own,” he said.

“The question is whether the bureaucracy responds to the president. At this point, I don’t see it, unfortunately. I don’t rule it out. Obviously, things could be happening that are not public yet. But I think the president’s in one place, and the bureaucracy is in another. The bureaucracy’s in the same place on North Korea it has been for 25 years. It just doesn’t change,” he lamented.

Bolton’s policy recommendations for North Korea included restoring “all of the sanctions previously imposed on North Korea.”

“I would correct the Bush administration’s…one of Condi Rice’s worst mistakes is taking North Korea off our list of state sponsors of terrorism. I would put them right back on that list. They’re not only state sponsors, they are terrorists themselves, given this treatment of Otto Warmbier and many others, American and non-American alike,” he declared.

“I’d put the pressure on, no doubt about it, but I think we’ve got to be realistic: it’s not going to work. It’s not going to change their behavior. They’ll find ways to evade it. Sanctions have been evaded by the North Koreans successfully with the help of China and Russia for decades. We’ve got to have a very straight talk with China about reunification, and if that doesn’t work, then our options are limited and unattractive,” Bolton warned.

Marlow turned to Britain’s exit from the European Union, which reached its one-year anniversary on Friday. He noted that very little progress has been made during the past year.

“It’s disappointing, I must say,” Bolton agreed. “It’s due to several factors. It’s due to the fact that, obviously, David Cameron had to be replaced as prime minister. I think the supporters of leaving the European Union in the Conservative Party hoped to get a champion of the Leave position in as prime minister. That didn’t happen, although Theresa May seemed to be prepared to negotiate for a hard Brexit if necessary. But then she called this snap election, and it seemed like a brilliant move at the time, but it’s resulted in the Conservative Party actually losing seats in the House of Commons, so they’re in disarray.”

“I think it’s going to be hard for Theresa May to survive politically, so you’ve had this turmoil in domestic politics that’s gotten in the way of negotiations,” he said. “I think that those who advocated Leave just need to grit their teeth and continue on because the decision to leave was then, and is today, the right decision for Britain.”

“The elites, the high-minded in Europe and in Britain and in America, all think that they should reverse their decision. That’s not going to happen. People need to get used to that,” he said.

“I think President Trump said some time ago he wanted to step up and establish a bilateral trade relationship between the U.S. and a U.K. no longer in the E.U. I think we should be moving ahead on that,” Bolton advised. “There are certain constraints the Brits face, but we can lay out the big principles so that businesses and financial services institutions on both sides of the Atlantic know what’s coming. I think it’s a win-win for the U.S. and the U.K., and I hope we pay more attention to that.”

“As hard and as unproductive as the past year has been, the fundamental decision remains correct. They just need to fight through it,” he said.

Marlow observed that the hard British left has been working out an alliance with Islamists. “It seems like the encroaching Islamist philosophies of Islamism are becoming much more prevalent and more accepted, and it seems like the priorities of the folks in the Jeremy Corbyn wing of British politics seem to be getting a much more powerful voice than I was anticipating,” he said.

“I must say, within the Labor party in Britain, the only religion that seems to be favored is Islam,” Bolton replied. “Christianity, Judaism are old-fashioned. The levels of anti-Semitism in the Labor party are at historically high levels. I think it has to do with their ideology. I think that this self-segregation, this unwillingness to join the broader U.K. culture, is a huge potential problem.”

“You know, none of the European countries have the concept of the melting pot the way we do in the United States, where people come from all over the world and get into the melting pot and emerge as Americans,” he pointed out. “It’s a huge strength of the United States. It’s why we’ve been a draw for people from all over the world forever. They understand that when they come here, they’re going to do something very different in their lives. They’re going to join a nation that is unique in the world, founded on an idea, and they change.”

“When we’ve seen in recent years people coming to this country who don’t want to get into the melting pot, who don’t want to be Americanized – they don’t even like that word; I think it’s a word we should use more often – it’s a problem for us,” he added.

“The Brits are the closest of the European countries to having that ability, but it’s been failing them for a number of years. It doesn’t work at all on the continent of Europe itself. I think this split within society, this view that some can live under sharia law, everybody else will live under the regular English legal system, is the beginning of the end of the democratic society. I don’t want to be apocalyptic about it, but I think that’s the direction it’s moving in,” Bolton said.

“The Europeans are in the midst of a decision whether they understand it or not, given the hundreds of thousands – indeed, millions – of refugees and migrants that are coming from North Africa and the Middle East,” he contended. “This is a process that’s been in play for a long time. Maybe they don’t care so much about their cultural identity. That’s their choice to make, if they want to lose it. But there are demographic trends at play here that could foreshadow a very different Europe by the end of this century. If they don’t insist on integration into the broader society, then it won’t happen.”

“In the United States, people have come here historically because they want to become Americans. They want to shed some of the baggage of the countries they’re leaving from. To the extent we suffer from that same European problem, we will have the same issues here – maybe a little bit later than the Europeans, but inevitably, we will face the same problems,” he predicted.

“I think it’s emblematic of this unwillingness to deal with this issue that you’re seeing almost daily acts of terrorism across Europe. It hasn’t happened here yet, but we’re beginning to see that pattern, and I think it’s only going to get worse,” said Bolton.

Marlow asked for Bolton’s view of the visit by President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner to the Middle East and the persistent issue of Palestinian payments to the families of suicide bombers, blatantly encouraging violence in a way that makes talk of a “peace process” farcical.

Bolton agreed these payments to the families of terrorists are “a very significant issue.”

“Secretary of State Tillerson testified – I think it’s about two weeks ago now – that the Palestinian Authority said it wasn’t going to make such payments anymore,” he recalled. “The next day, the government of Israel said that’s not true; it’s still going on.”

“You’ve got a fundamentally different perspective on many, many things in that region,” he said. “I think Jared Kushner, I think the president himself, are approaching this in good faith with a good heart. They want to see what they can do. I’ve believed for some time, however, that the two-state solution has run into a dead end. It’s not going to work. It’s not doable. The Palestinian Authority doesn’t have the legitimacy or the capability of making commitments and then carrying them out. I think you’ve got to look at something radically different.”

“I just have to say, as my honest diplomatic and political assessment, repeating the Middle East peace process as we’ve known it this past forty or fifty years, the idea of a two-state solution, isn’t going to go anywhere,” Bolton concluded.

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

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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.

Trump Launches First FONOP in South China Sea

May 26, 2017

Trump Launches First FONOP in South China Sea, American Interest, May 25, 2017

This patrol has been a long time coming. Along with others, we have been wondering whether the Trump administration had so far declined to approve FONOPs in a gambit to solicit China’s cooperation on North Korea. If that logic indeed held sway early on, it seems that the administration has now changed its tune, rightfully recognizing that going easy on China in one dispute won’t guarantee its cooperation on another.

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For the first time since President Trump took office, the U.S. Navy has conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation in the South China Sea, provoking a predictable protest from Beijing. Reuters:

A U.S. Navy warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, the first such challenge to Beijing in the strategic waterway since U.S. President Donald Trump took office.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the USS Dewey traveled close to the Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbors.

China said its warships had warned the U.S. ship and it lodged “stern representations” with the United States. China said it remained resolutely opposed to so-called freedom of navigation operations.

This patrol has been a long time coming. Along with others, we have been wondering whether the Trump administration had so far declined to approve FONOPs in a gambit to solicit China’s cooperation on North Korea. If that logic indeed held sway early on, it seems that the administration has now changed its tune, rightfully recognizing that going easy on China in one dispute won’t guarantee its cooperation on another.

The exercise also sends an important signal in its own right that the U.S. refuses to recognize China’s claims, and that it will not remain passive as Beijing seeks to expand its maritime reach. That message comes none too soon, as China has lately been working out bilateral deals with its rival claimants while the U.S. has appeared missing in action. Let’s hope this is not a one-off but the start of a more active and engaged phase of the Trump administration’s South China Sea policy.

More, please.

Haley: China’s Been a ‘Really Great Friend’ to the U.S. Regarding North Korea

April 24, 2017

Haley: China’s Been a ‘Really Great Friend’ to the U.S. Regarding North Korea, Washington Free Beacon, April 24, 2017

(Please see also, Chinese media: ‘China’s intervention not needed when only N.K.’s nuke facilities are hit’ — DM)

 

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called China a “great friend” on Monday regarding its efforts to assist the U.S. with pressuring North Korea over its nuclear program.

Haley appeared on “CBS This Morning,” in addition to the other two network morning shows, to discuss rising tensions with North Korea over its nuclear and missile tests, as well as other foreign policy issues facing the Trump administration.

President Trump spoke on the phone Sunday night with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and CBS host Norah O’Donnell asked Haley what more China needs to do to deter the North Koreans from taking more provocative actions. China is North Korea’s most important ally and main trading partner, giving Beijing strong influence over the rogue state.

“I think China is really in good faith doing quite a bit,” Haley said. “They are trying to put pressure on North Korea. What we’ve said is we want you to put more pressure on North Korea, whether that’s with coal, whether that’s with oil, whether that’s with other sanctions … I think China’s been a really great friend of ours, and the way they came together with us to do the statement last week showed that we are united against wanting North Korea to stay away from doing any sort of nuclear threats.”

Haley added that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is “flailing” and trying to show strength to his people.

“They’re panicking right now,” she said.

Last week, a Chinese spokesman said Beijing was “gravely concerned” about North Korean nuclear activity and praised the U.S. for “constructive” remarks about resolving the issue peacefully.

North Korea has continually made belligerent gestures toward the U.S., displaying a video last week showing the U.S. in flames during a military celebration.

Trump has softened his rhetoric about China, even refusing to call the country a currency manipulator after months of calling it one on the campaign trail, due to its assistance in pressuring North Korea.

“What, am I going to start trade war with China in the middle of him working on a bigger problem with North Korea?” Trump said last week. “I’m dealing with China with great respect. I have great respect for him. We’ll see what he can do.”

Trump has also cited friendly relations with the Chinese president as a reason to not start a trade war with the world’s largest country.

Chinese media: ‘China’s intervention not needed when only N.K.’s nuke facilities are hit’

April 24, 2017

Chinese media: ‘China’s intervention not needed when only N.K.’s nuke facilities are hit’ Dong-a Ilbo, April 24, 2017

A Chinese state-run media outlet said that if North Korea continues nuclear and missile development, China may not provide military support to China even if the U.S. launches preemptive strike on the North. China and North Korea have agreed to provide military assistance if one of them gets under military attack, and hence the latest report is construed as Beijing’s stern warning against Pyongyang.

If the U.S. launches surgical strikes on North Korea’s nuclear facilities, China will seek diplomatic deterrence but military intervention is not needed, China’s state-run Global Times said on Saturday. However, the daily repeated its previous stance that f the U.S. and South Korean militaries cross the 38th parallel to invade the North and seek to topple the North Korean regime, China should immediately start military intervention.”

With the U.S. and China stepping up pressure on North Korea, U.S. President Donald Trump held calls in succession with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping Sunday morning, and discussed ways to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. President Trump reportedly asked the Japanese and Chinese leaders to extend cooperation to manage the situation wherein signs of North Korea’s sixth nuclear test are mounting. Notably, in his call with Chinese President Xi, President Trump reportedly commended Beijing’s recent efforts to deter the North’s nuclear development and called on Beijing to use more specific measures to pressure the North.

In the premiere of “Born in China, a movie jointly produced by the U.S. and China held at the Chinese embassy in Washington on Friday, Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai said that President Trump will visit China in the second half of this year. After President Trump and President Xi held summit at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on April 6 and 7, the two leaders agreed to President Trump’s return visit to China at the earliest date.

CNN: Trump’s North Korea Policy Might Just Be Working

April 19, 2017

CNN: Trump’s North Korea Policy Might Just Be Working, BreitbartJoel B. Pollak, April 19, 2017

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Former British ambassador to North Korea John Everard writes at CNN.com on Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s assertive strategy towards the rogue nuclear power may have actually worked, despite domestic criticism.

Everard writes:

In my opinion, the most plausible explanation for this is that North Korea blinked. Although it is possible the extensive preparations around its nuclear test site were intended only to wind up the international community, it seems more likely that the North Koreans did indeed plan a nuclear test Saturday but desisted, probably because they assessed the risks of serious retaliation were too great.

The US carrier group it thought was near Korea and China’s threat on April 12 to support UN sanctions, including cutting off North Korea’s oil supply — which would have quickly brought its fragile economy to a halt — probably weighed heavily on Pyongyang as well.

Though domestic critics attacked Trump for stating that the USS Carl Vinson and an “armada” were sailing toward the Korean peninsula, when in fact the ships were far away, Everard says that Trump’s statement was a successful bluff.

The North Korean dictator thought the carrier group really was off the Korean coast, Everard writes. “Very few people outside the US administration knew the carrier group was in fact some 3,500 miles away from the Korean Peninsula.”

He concludes:

Perhaps the North Koreans calculated (rightly, it seems) that either a nuclear test or a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile — a long-range missile of the kind they would need to carry a nuclear warhead to the continental United States — was too dangerous. Instead, launching a medium-range missile would allow them to deny they were buckling under foreign pressure while not triggering a vigorous international reaction. The fact it failed doubtless also softened responses.

If this analysis is right, then the United States has, for now at least, succeeded in its long-term goal of halting the development of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles.

One observer who predicted Trump’s success in the confrontation was Dilbert illustrator and author Scott Adams, who had been stating for weeks that Trump’s unpredictable military moves might scare China into reining in its client state.

CNN is rarely positive in its coverage of the 45th president, making Everard’s article particularly noteworthy.

Trump Sends a Message to China Through Syria

April 10, 2017

Trump Sends a Message to China Through Syria, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, April 10, 2017

On Thursday evening, President Trump met with China’s President Xi and bombed Syria. The decision came as Trump traveled on Air Force One to meet with Xi at Mar-a-Lago. An hour into their dinner, 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched and pounded an airbase in Syria. The message wasn’t just for Assad and Putin. It was for Xi and his North Korean client state. The era of a weak America was over.

Xi had come to America expecting an easy photo op visit. President Trump would urge action on North Korea and Xi would smile coldly and shoot him down. Talk of fairer trade would be similarly dismissed.

And then Xi would go home and laugh that the bold new American leader was another paper tiger.

Except that President Trump had a different plan. Instead of Xi showing how tough he could be, Trump gave him a front row seat to a display of American power. The message was both obvious and subtle.

And President Xi, along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei, aren’t laughing.

The obvious part was as blatant as a 1,000 pound explosive warhead slamming into concrete and steel, and as obvious as upstaging Xi’s efforts to stonewall Trump while warning that North Korea could be next if the Chinese leader continues to be obstinate.

Trump had warned throughout the campaign that he would not be laying his military plans on the table. “You’re telling the enemy everything you want to do!” he had mocked Clinton.

His address to the nation came an hour after the missiles had struck. The element of surprise had held.

And Xi came away with a very different message. The Obama era was over. The new guy was bold, dangerous and unpredictable. Like many of Trump’s American opponents, Xi understood now that the jovial man sitting next to him could and would violate the rules of the game without prior warning.

China would have to be careful. There was a cowboy in the White House again.

And that was the subtle part. Trump does not care very much about Assad. What he truly cares about is American power. Left-wing critics quickly pounced on Trump’s past opposition to strikes on Syria and his criticisms of Obama for not enforcing his own “red line”.

There is no contradiction.

Trump didn’t believe that strikes on Syria were a good idea. But once we had committed to a red line, then we had to follow through if we were going to be taken seriously.

And so Trump enforced Obama’s red line. Not because of Obama or Syria. But because of America.

“When he didn’t cross that line after making the threat, I think that set us back a long ways, not only in Syria, but in many other parts of the world because it was a blank threat,” President Trump said.

President Trump intends to get things done. And he knows it won’t happen with “blank” threats.

Asked about whether the strikes represented a message to Xi and North Korea, Secretary of State Tillerson replied, “It does demonstrate that President Trump is willing to act when governments and actors cross the line and cross the line on violating commitments they have made.”

“President Trump has made that statement to the world tonight,” he added.

The message is more subtle than a 1,000 pound warhead. But not by that much.

President Trump’s move bewildered leftist critics who had to shift from accusing him of having a secret relationship with Russia to accusing him of ruining our relationship with Russia. It also enraged some supporters who maintained a dogmatic non-interventionist position. But Trump doesn’t make decisions based on ideology. He measures policies against real world objectives, not abstract philosophies.

What he has always wanted to do is solve real problems.

The problem he was solving on Thursday wasn’t Assad. President Trump recognizes that Syria is an unsolvable problem and that little good can come of extended engagement with it. There are no good guys in Syria. Only Sunni and Shiite Jihadis and their victims. Syria is and will always be a dead end.

The problem is that Obama thoroughly wrecked American prestige and power over eight years. And that makes it painfully difficult to get anything done when no one in the world will take us seriously.

President Trump sees North Korea’s nuclear weapons as a major threat. But he also sees the crisis as a way to leverage our military might to achieve better trade deals with both partners and rivals. He is not wedded to a globalist or anti-globalist ideology. Instead he sees every problem as an opportunity.

He is not committed to any international coalition, globalist or anti-globalist, except where it temporarily serves American purposes. That is what being a true nationalist actually means.

That is what makes him so unpredictable and so dangerous.

President Trump made a point in Syria. He timed that point for maximum effect. The point isn’t that Assad is a bad man. Though he is. It’s not that he isn’t a Russian puppet, though only the lunatic left could have believed that. The point is that he is determined that America will be taken seriously.

Cruise missile diplomacy isn’t new. Bill Clinton fired over 500 cruise missiles into Iraq. Not to mention Sudan. Bush fired cruise missiles into Somalia. Obama signed off on firing cruise missiles into Yemen and Syria at terrorist targets. The difference is that Trump isn’t just saving face with cruise missile diplomacy.

President Trump’s real objective isn’t the Middle East. It’s Asia. He doesn’t see Russia as our leading geopolitical foe, but China. Syria was the opening shot in a staring contest with the People’s Republic. The moves in this chess game will sometimes be obvious and sometimes subtle. And Trump is usually at his most subtle when he’s being obvious. That’s what his enemies usually miss.

President Trump’s first step in Syria was to reestablish physical and moral authority on the international stage while the President of China had to sit there and watch. He humiliated Democrats and their media operation at the peak of their Russia frenzy. And he sent the message that America is back.

It’s not a bad return on a $60 million investment. We’ve spent much more in the field with less to show for it.

The Obama era in international affairs ended with whimper and a hollow Nobel Peace Prize as a trophy. The Trump era in international affairs began with 59 cruise missiles and a big bang.