North Korea is running out of options, Charlottesville's need for an independent authority to investigate last weekend's tragedy... and MORE!
American Opportunity
A/O Global Intelligence Weekly: North Korea Runs Out Of Options; Independent Inquiry Needed in Charlottesville
The Trump adminstration is about to face the first international test of its presidency, and if the chessboard as set today is any indicator, North Korea is running out of room to maneuver and quickly.  This pressure from the United States is exactly the right call, and by leveraging economic, diplomatic, and military pressure in exactly the right amounts, the hermit kingdom of Kim Jong-Un is about to discover that the long-running policy of brinkmanship has found a dead end in the Trump presidency.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has been very clear both in public statements and private assurances that a military option is very much alive.  Any strike on Guam -- a U.S. territory -- has the near certainty of a massive, overwhelming and decisive response from our miltary assets in the Pacific.  North Korea has effectively run out of credible threats to issue: neither a MRBM launch nor an ICBM launch will escape the eye of the United States, and any threat on U.S. dependencies, allies, or the mainland will be met with devastating, unilateral force that will wipe out all doubt as to who holds the upper hand.

Critical for the moment is that the embargo against the North Korean regime remain in place.  China maintains they have stopped imports from North Korea -- welcome news once confirmed.  To induce further pressure, President Trump is actively reviewing China's trade practices, particularly on theft of U.S. intellectual property -- a longstanding complaint of American manufacturing and technology firms.  The Chinese have threatened to suspend the North Korea embargo in retaliation, but this would be a risky and reckless gambit in a Pacific Rim dotted with nations skeptical of China's rise and patronage of North Korea. 

In fact, on Fox Business News this afternoon, I discuss precisely the role China has to play in co-operating with the United States in de-escalating tensions on the Korean penninsula:

The United States of America will neither be bullied nor blackmailed by a Chinese government with no good options of their own.  India is demonstrating their willingness to stand up to China in border disputes.  Chinese acquiescence to American requests to maintain the embargo only lengthens the shelf life of the North Korean regime, a conditon that forestalls U.S. military action which might lead to Korea re-unification or regime collapse -- something the Chinese are desperate to avoid.

The political implications of a North Korea armed with nuclear weapons need to be discussed in an era where nuclear non-proliferation -- the longstanding policy of the United States -- appears to be fraying as Iran and other regimes see value in pursuing such arms.  Certainly a North Korea armed with nuclear weapons is an unacceptable threat to South Korea and Japan, two nations with historical grievances that find themselves united on this question.  

If the Hwasong-10 IRBM does have the range and capacity to threaten Guam, and the Taepodong and Nodong variants have the ability to strike the Straits of Malaysia, U.S. naval and air assets at places such as Pearl Harbor, or the American mainland, the orbit of nations placed under threat grows remarkably long: Australia, Taiwan, Malaysia, India, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and so forth.  

China has the ability to resolve the North Korean crisis.  Whether it chooses to end the drama or turn a blind eye towards it remains to be seen, but if it has not been made abundantly clear before?  North Korea's policy of brinkmanship and China's benefit from such recklessness is coming to an abrupt -- but hopefully not violent -- end. 

More after the jump...
Joim American Opportunity

I must touch on events in Charlottesville this weekend, a city that seems to have become the focal point for so much bad coverage in recent years.  

Let me make this abundantly clear.  White supremacist groups and extremists of every stripe are antithetical to everything we believe as Americans, and should be proudly and fearlessly rejected by every freedom-loving soul.  The debate on Confederate memorials is a national conversation, and those who operate beyond the pale do not deserve a seat at that table.  

As the initial shock and horror of the tragedy that unfolded in Charlottesville begins to fade, the predictable few are already starting to leverage violence for political gain.  Already, the mainstream media has been swift to bash President Trump while refusing to assess the blame of those physically at the riots.  Two camps came ready to fight, and one camp claimed the life of another and wounded 19 others in an event that can only be described as political violence -- the very definition of a terrorist act.

Our focus ought to be on the lawlessness of the weekend's events.  Who prevented Virginia State Police and Charlottesville City Police from maintaining and restoring order when things got out of hand? 

We should insist on this point -- Virginia's first responders and law enforcement are some of the finest in the nation, if not the world.  Virginia's law enforcement officers and first responders lost two in the line of duty that weekend, and we all suffer with them in their loss.  

Yet did they have the tools and latitude to do their job? Did those giving instructions fall down on their duties to Virginia State Police in any way? Discussions were certainly held about how to react to events that weekend. What was said? Who gave the order not to separate these two groups? What was the role of the Mayor of the City? Did he confer with state officials as instructions were given to the police? Did the Governor participate in instructions to the Virginia State Police? Secretary of Public Safety? Were the police restrained by their political leadership?

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has called for an after action report.  This is entirely insufficient.

Public statements so far from Richmond have blamed the ACLU, the courts, and participants -- everyone but those who prepared for the event.  Enough with the blame, and enough with the politics.  Our law enforcement personnel deserve answers and clear directives; a firm resolve from decision makers that their lives and profession will be treated with the utmost respect their service deserves.

As a former governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, we have the moral obligation to review what happened and come up with concrete lessons on how such tragedies can never happen again through our own fault -- whether by omission or commission.  What is required is an independent authority to review what happened, when it happened, and who gave the instructions as to how events would happen that weekend.  

What is clear is this: Governor McAuilffe and his Secretary of  Public Safety cannot ethically evaluate their own participation in this tragedy, and answers are owed.  It enough to heave and sigh as if what happened in Charlottesville is the new normal.  Such a response is absolutely unacceptable, and as leaders in government, we have a responsibility to the laws of the land to ensure our laws are upheld equally and fairly at all times and in every instance.  Tragedies happen; preventable tragedies are never acceptable on my watch.

Please keep those who are hurting in your thoughts and prayers, especially the families who have lost loved ones.    

Some news and articles we recommend for information and discussion purposes, none of which necessarily represent the position of A/O:

As always, American Opportunity is always looking for new resources and topics we can address in detail.  Please feel free to stay in contact! 


Jim Gilmore
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