Harry J. Kazianis
The Olympics Détente is soon to be dead and buried—and with it the chances of a war not seen in decades will only rise.
While it might have arrived at the very end of a bellicose speech to his conservative base, President Trump at CPAC today revealed the obvious: Enjoy the Olympic truce while you have it. The North Korea crisis is back—and we could very well be on the brink of war in less than two months’ time.
In calling for new and sweeping sanctions, Trump made the right call. A country that imprisons and tortures many of its citizens in a vast Gulag system and threatens to inflict a nuclear inferno on America cannot be ignored or wished away. It must be confronted. And confrontation is exactly the course Trump is adopting. Despite the North’s mendacious propaganda campaign to remake its image through countless photo ops, cheerleader squads and failed attempts at Olympic glory that the western media feasted upon, the Trump administration is showing that it will not be fooled or back down to Pyongyang and its quest for a nuclear weapon that can hit the American homeland.
But the question facing the administration is simple: can sanctions avert the prospect of war and lead to diplomatic negotiations? Or will they result in a conflict that could quickly become a military disaster, even drawing in outside powers and leading to a new world war?
Today’s actions are simply part of a series of sanctions that are designed to weaken the regimes ability to conduct commerce on the high seas and apply what many have called a “python strategy” to squeeze the regime so hard that they must eventually come to the negotiating table.
While such an act is not the largest package of sanctions ever as some in the administration are touting, their cumulative effect will hurt North Korea where it stings the most—an economy that is one-third the size of Ethiopia and less than one-percent the size of its southern brethren.