Washington, D.C. (GPA) – In the days prior to North Korea’s first test of a hydrogen bomb, the Trump regime spent their time destroying relations with every nation that could potentially help return stability to Southeast Asia.
This weekend, several agencies from the countries surrounding the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea), recorded unusual seismic activity emanating from the region where Pyongyang is known to test nuclear weapons. The cause of the 6.3 magnitude quake was immediately suspected of being the result of one of these tests by agencies such as the US Geological Survey (USGS).
This suspicion was quickly confirmed via official announcements by Pyongyang and the DPRK’s state media outlet, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). According to KCNA, this test marks a new milestone in the DPRK’s nuclear program: their first successful test of a hydrogen bomb. With their traditional blunt style, the DPRK confirmed that the new weapon is indeed “to be placed as the payload of the ICBM.” The US and their allies have no reason to doubt this claim and are apparently taking the threat seriously, especially after the recent launch of a North Korean missile over northern Japan.
Obviously, the US is already condemning the test. In an impromptu press conference outside the White House on Sunday, the matter was addressed by US President Donald Trump and his Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who warned Pyongyang that “Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam or our allies, will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming.” There was, however, one problem with this statement in Mattis’ reference to US allies; who are currently growing more hostile to Washington by the day.
The Alienation of South Korea
We should start the discussion of Trump’s diplomatic failures with the country that is arguably most affected by events in the DPRK, South Korea. Seoul is easily going to be in the most danger if the Trump regime botches whatever approach they may end up taking in resolving the DPRK standoff.
Seoul stands to lose the most if the US and Pyongyang somehow end up in the hot war over the DPRK’s nuclear program. With the potential destruction of up to half of the capital city of a US ally, it only makes sense that Seoul should be the country Trump is working hardest with to ease tensions and avoid a conflict.
Unfortunately for Seoul, their alliance with the US is not as strong as it used to be. This relationship has seen a chain of disagreements since Trump took office culminating in another major dip just one day before the nuclear test in the North. This latest snub of South Korea came in the form of a proposed policy change by the White House that could end a crucial trade deal between the US and South Korea.
This trade agreement currently voids previous tariffs on around 95% of South Korean consumer goods imported to the US. It’s this privileged relationship that helps South Korea maintain its position as the 6th largest source of US imports; and 7th largest destination for US exports.
Add this latest shake up to the series of recent events – such as Trump’s claim that he would make South Korea pay $1B for a missile defense system manned by US soldiers, and the election of a more level headed South Korean president – and anyone can see why this relationship is in jeopardy. This problem isn’t one caused by (or the concern of) the DPRK, and most importantly ensured a state of affairs between the US and South Korea that counteracted the other power looming in the region: China.
Trump’s Losses, China’s Victories
Much like the TPP, the US trade agreement with South Korea played a crucial role in the western plan to keep China locked out of key economies around the Pacific Rim. Also similar to the way Trump’s withdrawal from TPP enabled China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road proposal; withdrawal from the trade agreement with South Korea will enable China to move in where the US is retreating.
Beyond just handing economic victories to the Chinese, Trump is also alienating Beijing at a time where they are the best option out of all the potential partners for making peace with the DPRK. Trump has drifted from his originally correct position of offering China their deserved respect and has turned to publicly chastise their best hope for a Korean solution.
While Trump’s most critical language after Sunday’s nuclear test was reserved for South Korean “appeasement,” he also took aim at “any country doing business with North Korea”. Trump promised to cut off access to US markets to any nation that fell into that second category. This is obviously an attack on China, which continues Trump’s line of attack on the DPRK’s largest trading partner but – most likely unknown to Trump – this also puts other US partners that work with Pyongyang at risk of being punished, such as India. This doesn’t even begin to cover the fact that Trump’s ideas for punishing China aren’t even possible, but that’s for another day.
So, in just a matter of days, with the proposed trade deal changes and just one Tweet, Trump has managed to push away two key partners in negotiating a settlement for North Korea, but even before that, Trump spent Friday smashing relations with the only other nation poised to help.
The Perpetually Tanking Russian Relations
If China and South Korea weren’t enough, Trump also sunk US relations with Russia to a new low in the wake of another round of closures of Russian diplomatic facilities. To add insult to injury, Trump also decided to violate several international laws by having the FBI go inside these facilities (still owned by Russia and identified as diplomatic properties) and search the premises.
This illegal search was in response to the reports that the Russians were burning internal documents that belong to the government of the Russian Federation. This is neither a crime or anything the CIA doesn’t do when facing a rapid closure of an embassy. Unlike the CIA however, Russia’s consulate closures were completely peaceful, where as US embassies and consuls usually only close when they’re facing down the barrel of anti-imperialist uprisings or blowback from their bloodthirsty proxies.
The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the head of the US mission in Moscow and delivered “note of protest over the intention of the American authorities to conduct a search.” This, of course, roused up more nonsense from US Democrats, who believe the smoke and ensuing searches are proof of some vast fever-dream Russian conspiracy but it also saw Trump sink further in the tradition of the ridiculous hostility aimed at anything involving Vladimir Putin.
So, let’s congratulate Trump. He’s done a bigger service to every force working to counter US hegemony than he ever could have as some sort of puppet autocrat. If anyone reading this was still holding out hope that Trump would somehow be a geopolitical mastermind, maybe it’s time you admit he’s incompetent, and it might not be such a horrible thing (especially for nations like Syria and the DPRK).