Norks put Trump in a pickle

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On the roster: Norks put Trump in a pickle – Power Play: Didn’t we almost have it all? – Ryan pushes back on Trump-Dem deal on dreamers – Trump backs Strange, but Trump’s PAC backs Moore – Hard pass

The most politically helpful part of President Trump’s foreign policy so far has been that he has mostly neglected or failed to execute its most unpopular provisions. 

Dire predictions that were, to be fair, predicated on Trump’s own statements haven’t panned out and, in many cases, have turned into praise rather than condemnation. 

A troop surge in Afghanistan, maintaining the Iranian nuclear deal, a re-escalation of what was formerly known as the “Global War on Terror,” cordial relations with Mexico and Canada, a staunch commitment to NATO, a doughty disposition toward Russia and a good rapport with his European counterparts are not things people would have considered a punch list for the first eight months of the “America First” presidency. 

Most surprising to those who have followed Trump’s long, public life and brief rise to power has been the caliber of the people who he has chosen for his foreign policy and national security teams. Much of this squad could have been picked by either George W. Bush or Barack Obama

This not only pleases the broad, bipartisan establishment, but it puts to ease many in the majority of voters who have consistently held in surveys that Trump is a hothead. As Trump arrives at the U.N. General Assembly next week, he comes as a pleasant surprise not just to other world leaders but to Americans, many of who expected a foreign policy of equal chaos to Trump’s domestic agenda.

It is true that many of Trump’s earliest and most vigorous supporters don’t like these turns toward conventional globalism. The same noisy minority that is currently inconsolable over Trump’s embrace of amnesty for young adults who came to the United States illegally as minors was previously in a lesser uproar about Trump maintaining core policies of his predecessors. 

But these voters have no place to go right now and probably won’t in 2020, either. Their dampened enthusiasm for the ever-changing nature of Trumpism may be consequential in midterms and the quadrennial general election, but the president has, for the time being, decided to trade in his original ride for a more luxurious model. 

Who knew that the easiest path to a popular foreign policy was in failing to live up to your campaign promises? 

But there’s one area where low expectations and a preference for stability in world affairs do not help Trump: North Korea. The totalitarian state is unquestionably out of hand.

This is now unlike the previous, extortionist, flare-ups we’ve seen from Pyongyang in which saber rattling nets some additional food shipments, a case of Courvoisier for the dictator and a visit from Dennis “The Worm” Rodman.

One of the reasons presidents don’t really resort to the kind of rhetoric that Trump fired off about North Korea starting in the opening weeks of his term is because it tends to limit a leader’s options later on. 

History will recall always Obama’s complicity in the genocidal slaughter of Syria because he declared a “red line” in the country’s civil war, and then failed to act. Once the American president promises consequences, the world generally expects the planet’s lone superpower to deliver. 

We have reached a point of crisis with North Korea as that country not only refuses to comply with demands of the entire international community but now flouts direct threats from the United States by firing missiles through the air space of our most important regional ally, Japan. 

While Trump’s national security team has worked hard to undercut the president’s hottest rhetoric about North Korea, Trump has still managed to create an expectation of consequences, both internationally and among his constituents here at home. 

It does not look good for Trump or the United States to have a tin-pot dictator of a starving nation flipping him the bird, via ICBM. 

The trouble is there are no good options in North Korea, save the possibility of brokering a…

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