Trump’s ‘Love’ Affair With Kim Looms Over U.S.-Japan Summit

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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to Washington this week coincides with the re-emergence of a familiar threat: North Korea. On March 28, Russia vetoed what should have been a routine U.N. Security Council reauthorization of a panel monitoring sanctions on Pyongyang. Moscow’s veto reflected both unhappiness with the panel’s recent findings and a general fraying of relations between Russia and the U.S.

While the committee’s demise is unfortunate, the veto signaled something far more important: that the strengthening China-Russia axis is firmly resolved to protect its interests and those of its outriders, North Korea and Iran. China and Russia never fully shared the U.S. desire to keep the North from acquiring nuclear weapons. Getting them to agree to incremental sanctions required endless palavering, “full and frank exchanges,” and several near-shouting matches. But even that marriage of convenience is now gone.

Mr. Kishida’s visit highlights the stakes in a presidential election year. Unfortunately, neither Joe Biden nor Donald Trump is fit to deal with Kim Jong Un’s rogue regime. Mr. Biden has followed Barack Obama’s “strategic patience” policy, increasing neither economic nor political pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear aspirations, nor otherwise seriously challenging the regime, nor even engaging in negotiations. As a result, North Korea has simply continued advancing its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs. After more than a decade of “strategic patience,” we now know what such diplomatic jargon really means: doing nothing. While Washington has played the idle bystander, Mr. Kim has profited from the growing Russia-China collaboration, strengthening his relations with Moscow and better positioning himself to secure tangible benefits from both poles of the new axis.

On North Korea, a second Trump term would be as bad as the first. Three summits between the two leaders produced nothing concrete apart from Mr. Trump’s claims that he and Mr. Kim “fell in love.” As with all nuclear proliferators, time is on the side of the rogue state. With Mr. Trump in office, Pyongyang got four years closer to being able to deliver a nuclear weapon.

Continue reading on the Wall Street Journal. 

America’s Arms-Control Restraints No Longer Make Sense

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Our enemies are proliferating, so we must adapt

On June 18, 1935, the United Kingdom and Germany entered “a permanent and definite agreement” that limited Germany’s total warship tonnage to 35 percent of the British Commonwealth’s. This was a major concession from Great Britain, since agreements at the Washington (1921–22) and London (1930) naval conferences had already significantly reduced its own fleet. Hitler defined “permanent and definite” to mean lasting less than four years: He abrogated the treaty on April 28, 1939, four convenient months before the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact carved up Poland and started World War II. Arms control at work.

After 1945, America concluded a series of treaties that were, when signed or shortly thereafter, almost uniformly disadvantageous to us. Considerable efforts to eliminate these restraints have been made, but significant risk remains of reverting to the old ways or not extracting ourselves from the remaining harmful treaties. Whoever next wins the presidency should seek the effective end of the usual arms-control theology before the tide turns again.

To have any chance of bolstering U.S. national security, arms control must fit into larger strategic frameworks, which it has not done well in the last century. Even if they made sense in their day, many arms-control treaties have not withstood changing circumstances. Preserving them is even less viable as we enter a new phase of international affairs: the era after the post–Cold War era. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iran’s ongoing “ring of fire” strategy against Israel, China’s aspirations for regional and then global hegemony, and the Beijing–Moscow axis augur trying times. We need a post–post–Cold War strategy avowedly skeptical of both the theoretical and the operational aspects of the usual approaches to arms control.

Rethinking arms-control doctrine down to its foundations began with Ronald Reagan’s 1983 Strategic Defense Initiative and resumed with George W. Bush. The partisan and philosophical debates they launched have continued ever since, but the next president will confront foreign- and defense-policy decisions that cannot be postponed or ignored. Best to do some advance thinking now.

Bush’s aspirations were more limited than what liberals derided as Reagan’s “Star Wars.” Bush worried about American vulnerability to the prospect of “handfuls, not hundreds,” of ballistic missiles launched against us by rogue states. Providing even limited national missile defense, however, required withdrawing from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, as Bush did in December 2001. Arms control’s high priests and priestesses, and key senators such as Joe Biden and John Kerry, were apoplectic. Missile defense was provocative, they said. Leaving the ABM Treaty meant abandoning “the cornerstone of international strategic stability” (a phrase commonly used by politicians, diplomats, and arms controllers) and upsetting the premise of mutual assured destruction, they said.

But Bush persisted and withdrew. As the saying goes, the dogs barked and the caravan moved on. In 2002, Bush turned to a new kind of strategic-arms agreement with Vladimir Putin, the Treaty of Moscow, which set asymmetric limits on deployed strategic nuclear warheads and was structured in ways very different from earlier or later nuclear-weapons treaties. We abandoned the complex, highly dubious counting and attribution metrics of prior strategic-weapons deals, as well as verification procedures that Russia had perfected means to evade. The Treaty of Moscow was sufficiently reviled by the arms-control theocracy that Barack Obama replaced it in 2010 with the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), reverting to failed earlier approaches, more on which below.

During Bush’s first term, we also blocked efforts in the United Nations at international gun control. We established the G-8 Global Partnership — to increase funding for the destruction of Russia’s “excess” nuclear and chemical weapons and delivery systems — and launched the Proliferation Security Initiative to combat international trafficking in weapons and materials of mass destruction. Neither effort required treaties or international bureaucracies. We unsigned the Rome Statute, the treaty that had created the International Criminal Court, to protect U.S. service members from the threat of criminal action by unaccountable global prosecutors.

Finally, the Bush administration scotched a proposed “verification” protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) that risked intellectual-property piracy against U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers but did not enhance the verification of breaches. The BWC and the Chemical Weapons Convention express aspirations not to use these weapons of mass destruction, but it is almost impossible to verify compliance with them. Moreover, arms controllers forget that the BWC sprang from Richard Nixon’s unilateral decision to eliminate American biological munitions, which proved that we could abjure undesirable weapons systems on our own.

The Bush administration went a long way toward ending arms control, but the true believers returned to power under Obama. Eager to ditch the heretical Treaty of Moscow, his negotiators produced New START — the lineal descendant of two earlier SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) and three START agreements — which entered into force in February 2011 for ten years, extendable once for five more. The Senate should never have ratified this execrable deal, as I explained in these pages (“A Treaty for Utopia,” May 2010). Nonetheless, with a Democratic majority it did so in a late-2010 lame-duck session, by 71 votes (all 56 Democrats, two independents, and 13 Republicans) to 26. While the vote seems lopsided, there were three nonvoters — retiring anti-treaty Republicans who opposed ratification — and the Senate secured the constitutionally required two-thirds ratification majority by only five votes. Today, given a possible Republican majority ahead and the unlikelihood that so many Republicans would defect again, ratifying a successor treaty is a dubious prospect at best.

The Trump administration resumed untying Gulliver, exiting the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 2019. While the INF Treaty may have made sense in the 1980s, by the time of withdrawal only the United States was abiding by its provisions. The likes of China and Iran, not treaty parties, were accumulating substantial numbers of intermediate-range ballistic missiles, and Russia was systematically violating INF Treaty limits. That left America as the only country abiding by the treaty, an obviously self-inflicted handicap that withdrawal corrected. Then, in 2020, the U.S. withdrew from the Open Skies Treaty because Russia had abused its overflight privileges and because our national technical assets made overflight to obtain information obsolete. Russia subsequently withdrew from Open Skies.

But the arms-control theology still has powerful adherents. On January 26, 2021, newly inaugurated Joe Biden sent his first signal of weakness to Putin by unconditionally extending New START for five years without seeking modifications to it. This critical capitulation was utterly unwarranted by New START’s merits or by developments since its ratification. The treaty was fatally defective in that it did not address tactical nuclear weapons, in which Russia had clear superiority. It remains true that no new deal would be sensible for the United States unless it included tactical as well as strategic warheads.

In addition, technological threats that postdate New START (which deals with the Cold War triad of land-based ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers) need to be confronted, especially cruise missiles, which can now reach hypersonic speeds.

Most important, China has made substantial progress since 2010 toward becoming a peer nuclear power. Beijing may not yet have the deliverable-weapons capacity of Washington or Moscow, but the trajectory is clear.

A tripolar U.S.–Russian–Chinese nuclear world (no other power has or will have rates of warhead production comparable to China’s) would be almost inexpressibly more dangerous than a bipolar U.S.–USSR world. The most critical threat that China’s growing strategic-weapons arsenal poses is to the United States. How will it manifest? Will we face periodic, independent risks of nuclear conflict with either China or Russia? Or a combined threat simultaneously? Or serial threats? Or all of the above? Answers to these questions will dictate the nuclear-force levels necessary to deter first-strike launches by either Beijing or Moscow or by both, and to defeat them no matter how nuclear-conflict scenarios may unfold.

None of this is pleasant to contemplate, but, as Herman Kahn advised, thinking about the unthinkable is necessary in a nuclear world. These existential issues must be addressed before we can safely enter trilateral nuclear-arms-control negotiations. Beijing is refusing to negotiate until it achieves rough numerical parity with Washington and Moscow. There is little room for diplomacy anyway, since in February 2023 Russia suspended its participation in New START. Further strategic-weapons agreements with Russia alone would be suicidal: Bilateral nuclear treaties may be sensible in a bipolar nuclear world, but they make no sense in a tripolar world. Russia and China surely grasp this. We can only hope Joe Biden does as well. Next January, our president will have just one year to decide how to handle New START’s impending expiration. We should assess now which candidates understand the stakes and are likely to avoid being encumbered by agreements not just outmoded but dangerous for America.

A closely related challenge is the issue of U.S. nuclear testing. Unarguably, if we do not soon resume underground testing, the safety and reliability of our aging nuclear arsenal will be increasingly at risk, as America’s Strategic Posture, a recent congressionally mandated report, shows. Since 1992, Washington has faced a self-imposed ban on underground nuclear testing even though no international treaty in force prohibits it. The Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963 bars only atmospheric, space, and underwater testing, a gap that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which would have banned all testing, was intended to close. Because, however, not all five legitimate nuclear powers under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ratified the CTBT, it never entered into force and likely never will. Though the U.S. signed the CTBT in 1996, the Senate rejected its ratification by a vote of 51 to 48 in 1999. Russia recently announced its withdrawal, thereby predictably dismaying Biden’s advisers. The next U.S. president should extinguish the CTBT by unsigning it. As was recently revealed, Beijing seems to be reactivating and upgrading its Lop Nor nuclear-testing facility. We can predict confidently that neither China nor Russia will hesitate to do what it thinks necessary to advance its nuclear-weapons capabilities. We should not be caught short.

Additional unfinished business involves the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, another arms-control “cornerstone,” this one of European security. Effective since 1990, as the Cold War ended, CFE became obsolete almost immediately. The Warsaw Pact disbanded (its members largely joining NATO) and the USSR fragmented. Russia suspended CFE Treaty compliance several times before withdrawing formally in November 2023, having already invaded Ukraine, another CFE Treaty party. In response, the United States and our NATO allies suspended CFE Treaty performance. Like the CTBT, the CFE Treaty is a zombie that the next president should promptly destroy.

The list of arms-control-diplomacy failures goes on. The NPT, for example, has never hindered truly determined proliferators such as North Korea (which now has a second illicit nuclear reactor online) or Iran, much as arms-control agreements have consistently failed to prevent grave violations by determined aggressors.

This long, sad history has given us adequate warning, and the next president should learn from it. The array of threats the United States faces makes it imperative that we initiate substantial, full-spectrum increases in our defense capabilities, from traditional combat arms and cyberspace assets to nuclear weapons. Instead of limiting our capabilities, we must ensure that we know what we need and have it on hand. We are nowhere near that point.

This article was first published in The National Review on January 25, 2024. Click here to read the original article.

Kim Jong Un Drops the Mask

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North Korea officially repudiates ‘peaceful reunification’ in favor of total domination.

North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un last week eviscerated any remaining pretense that his regime seeks peaceful reunification with South Korea. Now that Pyongyang has nearly developed the ability to deliver a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile, Mr. Kim has decided to scrap almost 80 years of intra-Korean policy.

In a Castro-length speech filled with rhetoric about America’s “policy of confrontation,” Mr. Kim announced his decision to strip the North’s “constitution” of all vestiges of peaceful reunification and to eliminate the government offices handling the issue. By effectively recognizing that there are two states on the Korean Peninsula, Mr. Kim has ensured there is no turning back. If war breaks out, he said, the North plans on “completely occupying, subjugating and reclaiming” South Korea and annexing it “as a part of the territory of our Republic.”

Mr. Kim’s belligerence and constitutional changes are bell ringers, the strongest possible signals of his intentions. The audience is both domestic and global. His rhetoric exposes how the South Korean left’s “sunshine policy” of détente and appeasement is not only wrong but dangerous. Mr. Kim refers to Seoul as Pyongyang’s “primary foe and invariable principal enemy.”

Over the years, many credulous South Korean and American leaders have accepted the North’s claims that it pursued nuclear weapons only because it was afraid of being attacked. These observers decided that persuading the Kim dynasty to abandon its nuclear objectives was a matter of proving that the U.S. had no “hostile intent” toward the North. This argument failed to grasp that the regime wanted nuclear weapons to pursue reunification its own way—the North absorbing the South, not the other way around. Using nuclear weapons to threaten Seoul’s allies and neighbors, Pyongyang sought U.S. withdrawal from South Korea. Mr. Kim wanted to convince the Americans to abandon the South Koreans in the event of an invasion.

Counting on weak U.S. leaders who didn’t see South Korea as a strategic asset, and whom they could subject to nuclear blackmail, the Kims followed a version of Deng Xiaoping’s “hide and bide” approach: concealing their growing nuclear and ballistic-missile programs and awaiting a docile regime in Washington. Today, the North sees its moment at hand in a weak Joe Biden—or a feckless Donald Trump, who unilaterally canceled joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises in 2018 without receiving anything in return.

Moreover, despite the “no-limits partnership” between Moscow and Beijing, Mr. Kim has regained sufficient leverage to be able to play Russia against China. His grandfather Kim Il Sung did the same during the Cold War. In 1950, neither Joseph Stalin nor Mao Zedong was enthusiastic about North Korea attacking across the 38th parallel, which they both feared would provoke war with the U.S. Kim Il Sung nonetheless persuaded both leaders that the other supported invasion. On June 25, 1950, Pyongyang caught Seoul and Washington by surprise and nearly drove U.S. forces into the sea.

After the Soviet Union collapsed, Moscow’s influence in Pyongyang waned considerably, increasing the North’s reliance on Beijing for its survival. Now equipped with nuclear capabilities and increasingly potent delivery systems, Mr. Kim remembers his grandfather’s game plan. Russia’s failures in Ukraine opened an opportunity for realignment that Mr. Kim swiftly seized, arming Russia at a critical time. Vladimir Putin will soon have a chance to say thanks in person. The Russian leader has announced plans to visit North Korea at “an early date.”

The U.S. failure to repulse Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Iran’s “ring of fire” strategy against Israel is undoubtedly prompting considerable deliberation in China. While Ukraine wasn’t overrun, it is far from being victorious, thereby proving to the world that the West will tolerate unprovoked aggression. In the Middle East, Americans and Israelis disagree on how to prosecute the war on Hamas, likely to the detriment of both countries. Mr. Trump’s only contribution to date has been to say that he’ll resolve both conflicts quickly, details to follow.

With the Biden administration overwhelmed and a presidential election looming, Pyongyang and Beijing may well believe their window of opportunity has arrived. By rallying the North’s people, rewriting its constitution, and abolishing the machinery of reunification diplomacy, Mr. Kim could be preparing to jump through it.

This article was first published in Wall Street Journal on January 25, 2024. Click here to read the original article.

Face reality, ‘democracy advocate’ Biden: Taiwan is already independent

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Taking advantage of a split opposition, Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party won an unprecedented third straight presidential victory in Saturday’s elections.

President-elect William Lai and his vice-presidential running mate, Bi-khim Hsiao, are savvy and experienced, capable of leading Taiwan through potentially perilous times ahead.

On domestic issues, the DPP is generally to the left of its largest opponent, the Kuomintang, once led by Chiang Kai-shek, who brought the Republic of China government to Taiwan in 1949 after repeated defeats by Mao Zedong’s Communists.

nternationally, however, the DPP view of Taipei’s place in the world is comfortable with Reagan-style Republicanism.

Given the threats Lai’s incoming administration will face, it needs full support from its American friends and across the global West.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is undoubtedly outraged that Beijing’s latest effort to subvert free elections failed once more, likely again backfiring and increasing DPP support.

Through political and military threats and intimidation, media influence operations and outright efforts at subversion and corruption, China worked hard to prevent another DPP presidential victory.

Thwarted by the voters, Xi will undoubtedly turn to far more dangerous methods to gain control over Taiwan.

He has already stressed to President Biden that’s his objective.

He is serious.

And since the opposition holds a small majority in Taiwan’s incoming Legislative Yuan, the Lai administration will face political constraints that outgoing DPP President Tsai Ing-wen did not.

Beijing and its Western sympathizers endlessly argue — they continue after the campaign — that Lai and the DPP are reckless, risking war across the Taiwan Strait, and, in any case, America long ago agreed that Taiwan is part of China.

This is entirely wrong, but even many Americans, including the Biden administration, accept this disingenuous rendering of the “One-China” policy.

In the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué, President Richard Nixon agreed that America “acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China.”

Translated from diplo-speak, this means we recognized the reality that, in 1972, Chiang and Mao each still believed in ultimately prevailing over the other in China’s civil war.

Those days are gone. Also gone are any ideas of what “all Chinese” in Taiwan believe.

Its citizens have come to see themselves as a different people, not unlike Americans transitioning from seeing themselves as English, pointedly so in 1776.

After 30-plus years of Taiwan opinion surveys, the latest results are that only 2.5% consider themselves Chinese; 62.8% Taiwanese; and 30.5% Taiwanese-Chinese.

Taiwan meets the key tests of international “state” status: defined territory and population and a fully functioning government.

This reality constitutes de facto Taiwanese independence, whether China likes it or not.

President-elect Lai doesn’t have to declare independence since Taiwan already has it. Only if China succeeds in conquest will that change.

Standing firm for Taiwan’s freedoms is provocative only to Beijing’s Communist authoritarians, who fear the spread of ideas totally antithetical to the autocracy they desperately hope to preserve.

The right policy for America here is to recognize reality: Taiwan is independent.

I recommended as far back as 2000 that Washington extend full diplomatic relations to Taipei, unsuccessfully so far.

Unfortunately, we already have Biden’s knee-jerk reaction to Saturday’s elections: “We do not support independence.”

Making Xi’s day, that Biden, a real democracy advocate!

Whatever Taiwan’s abstract political status, it is critical to American national security for many reasons, from geopolitics (the “unsinkable aircraft carrier” in Douglas MacArthur’s words) to economics, as a key American trading partner, particularly in vital semiconductor chips.

These US national interests have been consistently reaffirmed ever since the guarantees embodied in the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act.

Today, Taiwan is more threatened by China than ever.

Following Russia’s unprovoked assault on Ukraine in February 2022, many rightly saw Taiwan’s increased precariousness.

With the Iranian-backed aggression in the Middle East now consuming Washington decision-makers, Beijing may be irresistibly tempted to take advantage of Taipei’s incoming government.

What Biden should do, with allies like Japan, South Korea and Australia, is make clear that we expect China to keep hands off, period.

America’s November elections are also problematic because Taiwan may be at greater risk in a second Trump term.

Donald Trump never said he fell in love with Xi, as he did with Kim Jong Un, but it’s close.

Trump’s view of national security focuses invariably on what brings the greatest attention to himself, not US national interests.

This will not be an easy year for Taiwan’s new government.

This article was first published in New York Post on January 16, 2024. Click here to read the original article.

US should support India’s emerging global role

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Two recent, seemingly unconnected events involving India highlight its growing global role. Both were largely unreported in the United States media. One involves a combined U.S.-Indian effort to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, and the other is a murky Qatari prosecution of former Indian naval officers allegedly spying for Israel. Together, they demonstrate New Delhi’s steadily growing importance to Washington and underline why we should pay more attention to the world’s most populous country. Prospects for closer bilateral cooperation are plentiful and important, notwithstanding continuing different perspectives on key topics such as trade and relations with Russia.

Beyond doubt, India will be a pivotal player in containing China’s hegemonic aspirations along its vast Indo-Pacific perimeter. Moreover, India’s already considerable Middle Eastern role will inevitably grow. The ramifications for India from Israel’s current war to eliminate Hamas’s terrorism and constrain its Iranian puppet masters are significant, opening opportunities for both countries. But the situation also presents risks in a complex and difficult region.


Major economic news with obvious geopolitical implications came in early November when the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation announced it would loan $553 million for a deep-water container terminal project in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital and largest port. The Adani Group, one of India’s biggest industrial conglomerates, with deep expertise in port construction and management, is the project’s majority owner in this the first significant cooperative effort between India’s private sector and America’s government, one directly competitive with China.

Colombo’s port was an early target of China’s BRI, a program aimed at ensnaring developing countries in complex financial arrangements for major infrastructure projects. China ultimately took full control of its port facility, which many fear will ultimately serve military purposes.

Contesting China’s economic and influence operations across the global south, especially the BRI, must be a U.S. strategic priority. Teaming with a pathbreaking private Indian firm in the Colombo venture is a dramatic example of leveraging U.S.-Indian resources to mutual advantage. The Development Finance Corporation advances American interests by financing a major project potentially benefiting U.S. firms, and thereby vividly contrasts with China’s corrupt and ultimately subversive BRI approach. Sri Lanka also gains significantly. Since the Adani project is almost entirely private sector-owned (as opposed to BRI’s government-to-government matrix), Sri Lanka’s sovereign debt will not grow. There is no guarantee that additional projects or joint ventures with the Adani Group or other Indian firms will be easy, but the template is at least now in place.

In a separate development, Qatar arrested and charged eight former Indian naval officers (doing consulting work with Qatar’s military) as Israeli spies in August 2022. The specifics are unclear, and little was heard about the men until after Hamas’s brutal Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Declaring a dramatic shift in position, India announced support for Israel’s right to self-defense, whereupon Doha revealed on Oct. 26 that the prisoners had received death sentences. India greeted this news, tied in the public mind to its support for Israel, with outrage and dismay. Ironically, New Delhi had been trying to increase defense cooperation with Doha, and approximately 600,000 of its citizens work in Qatar (out of Qatar’s total population of about 2.5 million). India has insisted that Qatar release the men or at least commute their sentences; Qatari legal proceedings to that end are now underway.

Qatar has a lot riding on finding the right answer on the Indian prisoners, especially given the current war against Israel. Moreover, Qatar will not want to disrupt the promising initiative, announced at this year’s G20 meeting to link South Asia, the Middle East, and Europe more closely together through an “Economic Corridor.” In some ways, more is at stake here for Doha than for New Delhi. With China’s population declining, its internal socioeconomic problems growing, and its place in the world declining steadily relative to India’s, this is no time for Qatar to stay on board a sinking ship. India’s already voluminous demand for oil will only grow, while China’s will shrink as its economy slowly declines.

The Qatar-India imbroglio could figure significantly in U.S. efforts to counter the China-Russia axis (including its outliers such as North Korea, Iran, and Syria) in the Middle East and South Asia. Washington cannot by itself end tensions among the Gulf’s oil-producing Arab states, nor can it resolve all disagreements between the Gulf monarchies and the wider world. But America is hardly indifferent to regional dynamics, especially those weakening the common front against Iran’s support for international terrorism and its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Just as the Adani Group’s Colombo port project, bolstered by U.S. financial connections, is geostrategically important to counter China’s hegemonic aspirations, so is increasing greater unity among America’s Arab partners. A wider Indian role and cooperation with the U.S. globally will serve both countries’ national interests.

This article was first published in The Washington Examiner on December 1, 2023. Click here to read the original article.

Biden’s trilateral summit with Japan and South Korea is critical to American security

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This article was first published in The Washington Examiner on August 17, 2023.  Click Here to read the original article.

This Friday, President Joe Biden will host a trilateral summit critical to American security for decades to come.Joined by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, Biden hopes to “advance a shared trilateral vision” in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. Aspirations for the summit are high, but whether the leaders are truly prepared for effective trilateral teamwork, or whether Friday is just another meeting on their busy schedules, is unclear.The White House hails the “ironclad” U.S.-Japan and U.S.-ROK alliances, but that very formulation highlights probably the most difficult immediate obstacle they face: Can America’s long-standing “hub-and-spoke” Pacific alliances be transformed, even partially, into collective self-defense structures? This is not the work of one summit, or of only these three partners. No one expects to see an Asian NATO imminently. Nonetheless, China’s existential menace requires evolving beyond the hub-and-spoke paradigm. While Biden’s summit announcement mentions North Korea’s threat, the word “China” does not appear, perhaps for legitimate optical reasons. But if China is not absolutely central to the discussions, Friday’s summit will be a waste of time.A strong Pacific alliance will take work on multiple fronts. For their part, Japanese-Korean relations post-World War II are colored by history, and progress overcoming that history has often been reversed by new waves of hostility, generated by their respective domestic politics. Leaders such as Yoon and Kishida have heavy lifting to do, and despite opposition, both men seem determined to try.In their efforts, trilateral rather than bilateral security strategies and programs can be helpful. This is also how Washington can help pragmatically, moving beyond just voicing strong support for closer Tokyo-Seoul cooperation. A trilateral paradigm can give Seoul and Tokyo new room to enhance their relations, which can then permeate their bilateral dealings.In politico-military planning, trilateral cooperation can build patterns and habits of joint effort that transcend the constraints of bilateral relations, which the respective sides often see as zero-sum exercises. In a trilateral context, allocation of roles and responsibilities, defining and planning for contingencies, and the inevitably more complex consultations, can take the edge off purely bilateral issues. For example, discussing military budgets and defense-production programs — the meat and potatoes of any successful collective-defense partnership — while often contentious, can help justify decisions by each partner in ways that would otherwise be far more difficult to achieve individually or bilaterally. Closer trilateral cooperation is central to effective collective self-defense. For example, Donald Trump once asked South Korean President Moon Jae-in how South Koreans would feel about having Japanese troops fighting alongside them to repel a North Korean invasion. Moon was visibly uncomfortable with the question, given his domestic politics, and largely successful in avoiding a clear answer. Ineluctably, however, the logic for Japanese combat arms assisting South Korea’s defense is unassailable. It could prove far easier to realize in a trilateral structure than bilaterally. The leaders should also discuss how Japan and South Korea can enhance other emerging Indo-Pacific alignments. The Asian security “Quad” (India, Australia, Japan, and America), for example, does not include Seoul or other key players. Adding South Korea to form a “Quint” makes sense but may not yet be ripe. Accordingly, how the ROK and others can participate in the Quad’s emerging agenda is a vital topic. Similarly, neither Japan nor South Korea are now members of the AUKUS project for Great Britain and America to build nuclear-powered submarines with Australia, but they could easily have similar arrangements. Until Congress and the Biden administration take seriously the need for extensive increases in U.S. naval warships and submarines, not to mention more domestic shipbuilding capacity, working with Indo-Pacific allies to enlarge their respective arsenals is essential. Finally, Biden, Yoon, and Kishida should discuss how to cooperate in fending off Chinese designs on Taiwan and the East China Sea. While South Korea has understandably concentrated for decades on North Korea’s threat, Seoul’s leadership increasingly grasps that the more serious threat, economically as well as militarily, is China. It is already a commonplace understanding for the Japanese that an attack on Taiwan is an attack on them, and Koreans increasingly see threats to Taiwan in the same light. South Korea’s interests are essentially those of Japan, and indeed of America.Holding the line against Beijing and Pyongyang in all the waters around Korea and Japan is fundamental, and Taiwan is an essential ally for doing so. Positioned between the East and South China Seas, Taiwan is the key hinge point against China’s threat throughout East Asia. The summit leaders should be clear they will not be inhibited by Beijing’s insistence that countries either recognize China or Taiwan. There are numerous ways to engage in collective security with Taiwan as an effectively independent country, which it is, without saying so expressly.The sheer breadth of Beijing’s challenge is more than one summit can resolve, but the need for Indo-Pacific grand-strategy thinking is urgent. Regularizing these trilateral summits would be an important practical outcome this Friday.

The G-7 Shows It Still Doesn’t Understand The China Threat

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The global West’s disarray only encourages Xi Jinping’s belligerent tendencies.

This article was first published in 1945 on May 25, 2023. Click Here to read the original article.

By John Bolton

Last Saturday, leaders of the G-7 nations meeting in Hiroshima issued a 40-page communique addressing, most importantly, their relations with China.

The communique was touted as demonstrating G-7 unity and strength against Beijing’s economic warfare, but the China language instead reflects disarray and incoherence.

Embarrassingly weak, for example, is the Taiwan passage.

It is essentially unchanged from recent G-7 statements, ignoring China’s rapidly rising menace during the same period. Similarly, the G-7 urged China to speak directly to Ukraine, but referred only to a peace “based on territorial integrity,” not on the full restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty as well as its territorial integrity — a restoration all NATO members profess to support.

By resorting to bromides regarding both Taiwan and Ukraine, the leaders of the global West do precisely the opposite of what they intend: They reveal weakness rather than unity and strength. 

An Empty Slogan

The communique is weakest and least coherent on the G-7’s economic relationship with China, the very front where current Chinese efforts at regional and global hegemony are playing out. Instead of forthrightly confronting Beijing’s economic aggression, the Hiroshima document relies on a slogan, a sure signal of inadequate strategic substance. The communique adopts the mantra first unfurled by the European Union and quickly adopted by the Biden White House.

The slogan holds that the G-7 nations favor “derisking, not decoupling” their economies from China. This is a bumper sticker in search of a meaning, masking both the European Union’s flat unwillingness to acknowledge the Chinese threat, and significant policy disagreements and inadequacies within the G-7. It reflects not so much a failure of leadership in bringing along the lagging Europeans, but a collapse of U.S. resolve at the very outset.

The G-7 communique is quick to say, “we are not decoupling or turning inwards.” In fact, the concept of “decoupling” was always a straw man, an exaggeration implying near-cessation of business between China and the West. Deployed in America by those who overprize economic relations with Beijing — placing their importance above American national security — the term aimed to panic businesses and policymakers who were beginning to awaken to the re-emergence of significant international political risk. This “project fear” meaning of decoupling was never accurate.

Nor was “decoupling” ever seriously suggested in the sense of a government-mandated, latter-day industrial policy. Such an approach was no more likely to succeed than other industrial policies, which all rest on the assumption that politicians and government bureaucrats are better at making economic choices than markets. Existing levels of trade and investment between the global West and China are, for well or ill, too complex to believe that top-down government decision-making would lead to anything other than confusion and disorder.

Where government-directed decoupling is necessary, and should be expedited, is where it can eliminate dependency on goods and services that significantly impact U.S. national security. Both the Trump and Biden administrations have imposed significant sanctions on China in the high-tech field.

Europe trails far behind. France and Germany still see China almost exclusively through an economic prism, as repeatedly confirmed by statements from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Even the United Kingdom is torn, with significant debate between the hawkish Conservative parliamentary party and a China-friendly Ten Downing Street.

China Decouples

The hollowness of the “derisking, not decoupling” mantra is most evident at the level of individual firms, which have no practical way to derisk without decoupling. They must either reduce capital investment, or at least not increase it; withhold intellectual property (at risk from decades of Chinese piracy); reduce supply-chain reliance; find other markets; or take other defensive measures, depending on the circumstances of the particular firm. Many companies are already deeply engaged in reducing or hedging their risks, but others are not. These latter may ultimately pay the greatest economic price for their lack of diligence.

In due time, the sum of national security prudence and businesses’ political-risk decisions will determine the extent of decoupling, not the G-7’s false dichotomy. 

Tellingly, China is already far along in decoupling from the West, preparing for future military conflict by reducing its dependence. In what should have been required reading for G-7 leaders at Hiroshima, Ross Babbage’s The Next Major War demonstrates what Beijing was doing while we slept. Babbage explains four decades of China’s policy of so-called dual circulation, or “two markets, two resources.” Beijing’s “domestic market [was] a resource to protect and insulate, while foreign markets were to be penetrated and exploited.” He quotes McKinsey’s conclusion that “‘China has been reducing its exposure to the world, while the world’s exposure to China has risen.’”

Poor Signals From the G-7

However, China was far from successful in insulating itself. Its dependence on massive energy imports and other raw materials remains a critical weakness — one very difficult for China to correct in the foreseeable future, given its lack of domestic mineral and hydrocarbon resources.

The global West is only belatedly grasping the extent of China’s theft of intellectual property, massive protectionism, and governmental subsidies. As the gauzy era of globalization dissipates, political risk has re-emerged as a central factor in international business, especially with China. Political risk is not and never was confined to the world’s economic fringes. Under Deng Xiaoping’s policy of “hide your capabilities and bide your time,” Beijing convinced too many Western politicians and businesses of the fantasy that China was little more than a pure economic play. This holiday from history is over, and China’s misdeeds and threats, politically, economically, and militarily, are increasingly evident.

G-7 meetings come and go, and their leaders’ statements fade quickly. The impression that will not fade after the Hiroshima summit, certainly not from the minds of policymakers in Beijing, is that the great industrial democracies are still divided and unsure about how to oppose China’s economic warfare against them. The global West’s disarray only encourages Xi Jinping’s belligerent tendencies.

Biden’s half-hearted nuclear deterrence plan

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This article was first published in The Hill on May 5, 2023. Click Here to read the original article.

Last week’s summit between President Biden and President Yoon Suk-yeol of the Republic of Korea (“ROK”) had a full agenda, but there is little doubt that Yoon’s top priority was the omnipresent, growing North Korean nuclear threat.

Unfortunately, the celebration of the ROK-U.S. alliance’s 70th anniversary produced a joint statement, the Washington Declaration, that fell far short of what was necessary.

The Declaration’s modest measures will not slow Pyongyang’s efforts to reunite the Peninsula under its control, so tensions in Northeast Asia will almost certainly continue rising.

Reflecting a growing fear that America’s nuclear “extended deterrence” is no longer reliable, either against the North or, importantly, China, South Korean public opinion has increasingly supported an independent nuclear program.

Biden’s response to Beijing’s and Pyongyang’s growing nuclear and ballistic-missile threats, embodied in the Declaration, will do little to alleviate these ROK concerns.

The most palpable new U.S. commitment to opposing North Korean belligerence is that our nuclear ballistic-missile submarines will, for the first time in 40 years, resume docking, occasionally, in South Korea. Anonymous U.S. officials also predicted there would be a “regular cadence” of visits by aircraft carriers, bombers and more.

Did the White House really believe Pyongyang’s leadership thought America’s nuclear arsenal was imaginary? Perhaps. It’s a strange leadership, with strange ideas, so parading the cold steel from time to time might have an effect, if not on China’s Xi Jinping, perhaps on North Korea’s Kim Jung Un.

Far more likely, however, is that neither Kim nor Xi doubt Washington has massive nuclear assets. Instead, ironically but tellingly, they, like South Korea’s citizens, think very little of today’s U.S. leadership, Republican or Democratic.

China and both Koreas perceive a lack of American resolve and willpower to act decisively when ROK and U.S. national interests are threatened. If so, the Washington Declaration’s rhetoric about the U.S. commitment to extended deterrence and strengthening bilateral military ties will be seen as words, and words alone. We are kidding ourselves to believe that having “boomers” pitch up in South Korean waters sporadically will have any deterrent effect.

By contrast, redeploying U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea, effectively indefinitely, is several orders of magnitude more serious. First, these weapons would remain under sole American control, and immediately available to assist in defending deployed U.S. forces, and their Republic of Korea cohorts. “We go together” (or “katchi kapshida” in Korean) becomes much more than the combined forces’ long-standing slogan when backed by battlefield nuclear capabilities. That is far more palpable than submarine port calls.

Second, tactical nuclear deployments would give heft to the Washington Declaration’s creation of the Nuclear Coordination Group (“NCG”), charged with strengthening extended deterrence, discussing nuclear planning and managing North Korea’s proliferation threat. The new NCG would be far more than just another bureaucratic prop if it had real-world questions like optimizing the deterrent and defensive value of tangible nuclear assets. Lacking concrete responsibilities, how will the new NCG differ from the existing Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group, and others, which the Declaration says will be “strengthened”?

Third, while the issue of an independent ROK nuclear capability is politically and militarily separate from returning American tactical nuclear weapons to the Peninsula, renewed deployment would nonetheless buy valuable time for Seoul and Washington to evaluate fully the implications of South Korea becoming a nuclear-weapons state. The presence of American nuclear assets on the Peninsula neither precludes nor renders inevitable a separate ROK program, which has the further advantage of keeping Beijing and Pyongyang guessing.

Moreover, the implicit message weakening the Washington Declaration is that America’s antiproliferation efforts to stop Pyongyang from becoming a nuclear power have failed. Consider the proliferation aspect of the NCG’s mandate: it is to “manage” the North Korean threat. Not “defeat” that threat, not “eliminate” or “end” that threat, but merely “manage” it.

This is the language of bureaucrats, not statesmen, and it sounds suspiciously like giving up on working to prevent North Korea from becoming able to deliver nuclear payloads.

It is therefore appropriate to emphasize that those who opposed taking decisive steps against nuclear proliferators like North Korea and Iran long argued that we had ample time for negotiations. Accordingly, they said, efforts at regime change or pre-emptive military action were over-wrought, premature and unnecessary. Now that Pyongyang has detonated six nuclear devices, and Iran continues to progress toward its first, these same people say the rogue states are already nuclear powers, and we must hereafter rely on arms control and deterrence.

In other words, first it was too soon to take decisive action, and now it is too late. One might almost conclude that for all the posturing over the years that North Korean (or Iranian) nuclear weapons were “unacceptable,” that’s not really what many U.S. politicians and policymakers actually believed. They were prepared to accept American failure, but they knew it was impolitic to say it out loud in public. We are all now at greater risk because of this hypocrisy.

In the Indo-Pacific and the Middle East, where the menace of nuclear proliferation is all too real, others have refused to give up. In his first year in office, for example, Yoon has made improving ROK-Japan relations, badly damaged by his predecessor, a top priority. Better Tokyo-Seoul cooperation is critical to enhanced three-way efforts with Washington, and Yoon’s diplomacy with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is paying dividends. Kishida will visit South Korea, the first such visit in five years, just before the Hiroshima G-7 meeting, to which Yoon is invited.

It’s obviously easier for Kishida to sell U.S. deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the South than an independent ROK nuclear force, which would instantly raise in Tokyo the complex question of a comparable Japanese capability.

Biden’s half-hearted efforts to enhance U.S. national security should be a significant political vulnerability in the 2024 presidential campaign. It remains to be seen whether Republicans have the wit to make it an issue.

To Help Ukraine, Japan Must Stand against Iran

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This article was first published in the National Review on April 21, 2023. Click Here to read the original article.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has forced hard choices on the U.S. and its allies in determining how to respond to such unprovoked and unwarranted aggression. The U.S. is doing its part, but Japan, a member of the G-7 and the third-largest economy in the world, has dragged its feet and stopped at mere rhetoric. A more robust Japanese response is necessary to support Ukraine, beginning with cutting off trade with Russia’s staunch ally, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran is one of the few countries helping the Russian military kill innocent Ukrainian civilians and continue its invasion. For months now, the Russian military has used Iranian drones, and it is also seeking to acquire Iranian missiles, according to the Biden administration. And Japan appears to recognize the importance of Iranian weaponry to Russian forces: Earlier this month, Deputy Foreign Minister Shigeo Yamada reportedly asked Tehran “to stop supplying weapons to Russia.”

This was a ridiculous request. Iran has no intention of voluntarily slowing its cooperation with Moscow; it must be compelled to do so. Unfortunately, Japan has shown no appetite for concrete steps to punish Iran. It is the only member of the G-7 that has failed to apply any sanctions whatsoever on Iranian officials or entities since September, and both money and commercial products are flowing from Tokyo to Tehran — helping to prolong the war and encourage Iran’s malign behavior.

In 2022, Japanese general trading company Sojitz was fined more than $5 million by the U.S. Treasury Department for purchasing 64,000 tons of Iranian high-density polyethylene resin, which the Biden administration said “conferred significant economic benefits to Iran and undermined broad U.S. sanctions specifically targeting Iran’s petrochemical sector, a major source of revenue generation for the Government of Iran.” Later in the year, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) published evidence that Iran-backed Hezbollah is using communications equipment manufactured by Japan’s Icom Inc., which has another firm acting as its “official representative in Iran.”

More recently, UANI uncovered evidence that Japanese defense firm Fujikura — which has contracts to support the Japanese Self-Defense Forces — is simultaneously engaged in the Iranian market as an approved vendor of several sanction-designated and state-owned entities, including some linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Japanese businesses also appear to be selling commercial products to companies in China that source components and software found in Iranian drones.

These commercial ties should be as unacceptable to the U.S. as the purchase of Iranian oil, which Japan has done without since May 2019. Japan should suspend its trade relationship with Tehran and, like the United States, force businesses worldwide to choose between doing business in Iran or Japan. After all, trade between Japan and Iran, directly and indirectly, supports Vladimir Putin’s war machine.

Suspending trade with Iran, as Japan’s allies and partners have already done, is the least that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida can do to support Ukraine given his country’s continued reliance on Russian energy.

If Japan does so, Prime Minister Kishida will demonstrate that he is taking Japan into a new era of global leadership. He has already signaled a willingness to take political risks in ways that his predecessors did not by becoming the first prime minister to attend a NATO summit, doubling Japan’s military budget, and agreeing to “take on new roles” in the Indo-Pacific, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Prime Minister Kishida will also demonstrate that Japan is unafraid of using its substantial economic leverage to further international peace and security, drawing it closer to the U.S. and Europe and creating a stark contrast with malign states like China and Russia. Japan should adopt a version of the Magnitsky Act to more easily impose economic sanctions on individuals and entities suspected of human-rights violations.

Japan must recognize that it can have a tremendous impact on the war by targeting Iran for its role in supplying weaponry to Russia, and it need not wait until it hosts the next G-7 meeting in May to do so. If Japan addresses its ties with Tehran in the right way, it will create opportunities for a more confident and assertive nation to lead on the world stage. But if it addresses them in the wrong way, it will show that for all its economic strength, it is not yet confident enough to help direct world affairs.

It Is Not Too Late To Stop North Korea’s Rogue Nuclear March

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North Korea’s recent launch of a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is another dangerous step toward Pyongyang acquiring the capability to target nuclear warheads worldwide.

This article was first published on on April 18, 2023. Click Here to read the original article.

North Korea’s recent launch of a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is another dangerous step toward Pyongyang acquiring the capability to target nuclear warheads worldwide. More disturbing, however, is the tacit assumption that underlies most reactions to news of the launch: that it represents another inevitable step for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to achieve an objective that American presidents said for decades was unacceptable.

It now seems that we are prepared to accept this outcome, but we’re just not very happy about it. The Biden administration, more concerned with their leader’s valedictory Ireland visit, managed a response only from a National Security Council deputy press officer. Likely setting a record for most cliches in a one-paragraph statement, the text condemned the launch as “a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions” and asked North Korea “to come to the table for serious negotiations.” Just so Pyongyang didn’t miss the point, the statement added “[t]he door has not closed on diplomacy,” and the North should “choose diplomatic engagement.”

No wonder the Kim family’s hereditary Communist dictatorship dismisses Washington’s formulaic criticisms. These contain little more than bluster in answer to the DPRK’s continued march toward becoming a nuclear-weapons state. Is this what “unacceptable” means? History will record that repeated, unsuccessful American calls for negotiations have empowered nearly three decades of North Korean advances in nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile technology. No one in Pyongyang fears that any dispositive action will be taken to thwart their efforts.

Indeed, the very people who most vociferously advocated a diplomatic resolution of rogue-state nuclear proliferation programs now argue just as vociferously that it is too late to take serious action, and that we must accept the DPRK — and soon enough, Iran — as nuclear powers. First, it was too soon to consider the use of military force or regime change, and now it’s too late. Pyongyang and other nuclear aspirants benefit from this muddled thinking, knowing what they want even if we don’t, and single-mindedly pursuing their objectives while we worry about those poor, brazenly violated Security Council resolutions.

Fortunately, it is not yet too late. It remains highly likely that the North still cannot mate a nuclear device to one of its ICBMs, nor is there physical proof that a missile and weapons payload can reach this country. We do not know if Pyongyang has successfully developed re-entry vehicles that can sustain warhead integrity and reliability when their trajectories bring them back into Earth’s atmosphere, nor do we know whether the DPRK has sufficient targeting capabilities to actually hit what it is aiming for.

As Donald Rumsfeld frequently warned, “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” and our level of uncertainty is high. But knowing, as we do, the complexity of the science and technology needed to fabricate deliverable nuclear weapons, we can have some confidence that North Korea’s threat is not yet fully realized. Of course, we cannot exclude that Pyongyang would simply place a nuclear device into one of its tramp steamers, sail to a U.S. port, and detonate it to considerable effect. Time is, as always, definitely not on our side.

But neither should we overestimate the strength of Kim Jong Un’s regime, economically or politically. Just weeks before last week’s Hwasong-18 launch, we saw new indications of the North’s efforts to assist Russia in its war against Ukraine. Incredibly, according to declassified intelligence, Moscow is offering to barter food with Pyongyang in exchange for artillery shells, showing how weakened both regimes are. Indeed, the DPRK’s food shortages are worsening, with unconfirmed reports of starvation and perhaps the worst levels of deprivation during Kim’s entire tenure.

Accordingly, when South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol meets with Biden next week, the top agenda item should be to develop new and improved means of facilitating regime change in Pyongyang. That is one sure way to eliminate its nuclear program, not to mention liberating its oppressed citizens. Reinvigorating and stiffening the enforcement of existing sanctions and expanding the range of economic and political pressure directed toward toppling the regime will be key. There is no denying the difficulties involved in pursuing regime change, but they pale before the potentially devastating consequences of the DPRK using its nuclear weapons, or threatening and intimidating weak American presidents away from our historic commitment to defend the South. Given the current White House occupant, Yoon’s leadership will be key to developing any effective new policy. Clearly, if Seoul is not actively concerned about the human rights and long-term prospects of its fellow Koreans above the DMZ, it will be difficult to inspire others.

South Korea is demonstrating an increased awareness that Beijing’s growing threat to Taiwan, and more broadly in the Indo-Pacific, directly affects the peninsula. This will contribute to rising Asian support for a vigorous counter-DPRK policy, which Japan will certainly welcome. Therefore, increasing trilateral Tokyo-Seoul-Washington cooperation against the menace of China and North Korea must also be a top agenda item for the Biden-Yoon summit. The historical obstacles to closer South Korean-Japanese cooperation are well-known, but Yoon’s recent efforts with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida are promising, and they deserve full U.S. support.

One particularly important area is ongoing trilateral cooperation on missile defense, which recently resumed after a three-year break due to unrelated Tokyo-Seoul disagreements. America itself urgently needs to increase emphasis on national missile defense, further development of which would reduce, even if not completely eliminate, rogue-state threats of nuclear attack. Enhanced theater missile defense in East Asia, which amounts to national defense for South Korea and Japan, could pressure Pyongyang’s fragile economy just as Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative did to the collapsing Soviet economy, leading to its demise.

No one, least of all Kim’s regime, should harbor the misapprehension that America and its allies have grown indifferent to whether North Korea achieves deliverable nuclear weapons. Notwithstanding our manifest policy failures over the last 15 years, it is and always will be unacceptable for the DPRK to reach that goal.