One of President Trump’s more strategic messages within the State of the Union speech last night surrounds his statement toward China, Chairman Xi, and the proxy province of North Korea, Chairman Kim. Emphasis mine:
[…] “As part of a bold new diplomacy, we continue our historic push for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in 15 months.”
“If I had not been elected President of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea. Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one. And Chairman Kim and I will meet again on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam.”
Beyond announcing the dates and location for the next summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un; many domestic political opponents, and even some allies, might criticize the highlighted part of the statement from the position of self importance.
However, the key to understanding the geopolitical value is to stand back from U.S. and allied perspectives and look at the Trumpian statement from the position of Chairman Xi Jinping and Chairman Kim Jong-un:
President Trump says: “If I had not been elected President of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea.”
Both Chairman Xi and Chairman Kim would be reviewing that message for the implied statement it contains; thinking to their collective and political-selves: “Rut-roh, this American President was factually willing to go to war?”…
Yes, the implied message is rather stark.
Heck, from the position of Chairman Kim and/or Chairman Xi that implied message is actually stunning. It forces both China and North Korea to recognize how close to the precipice things actually were.
If Beijing and Pyongyang thought their previous negotiations were cunning geopolitical contests, with the outlook of war as a long distant possibility adverse to the political interests of the United States, their internal disposition would be strengthened and more confrontational. However, POTUS Trump just informed them: the military option wasn’t just on the table, it was ON THE TABLE and within reach.
Considering that USTR Ambassador Lighthizer and Secretary Mnuchin are heading to China to put the finer points on expected trade deliverables… well, that statement last night just reminds both Beijing and Pyongyang these negotiations have some very real implications if a deal is not reached…
Very smart message by President Trump.