The UK government has been ‘reassured’ by how Donald Trump has handled Assad’s use of chemical weapons, I write in The Sun this morning.
The government is right to be reassured. Trump does appear to have done what he said he would do, and listened to his generals.
Given that his National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and his Defence Secretary Jim Mattis are two of the finest military men that the US has produced post-World War Two, Trump is–in this case–listening to the right people. Whether their qualities can make up for Trump’s deficiencies in the long-run is very much open to question, but their growing influence is encouraging.
I understand that what persuaded Trump to strike was that there had to be consequences for Assad in using chemical weapons as their deployment was ‘becoming a pattern of behaviour’. If Trump has restored the red line against chemical weapons’ use that Barack Obama allowed to lapse, then that will be progress.
The speed with which Trump decided to strike Syria and his willingness to do so unilaterally should also concentrate President Xi’s mind. It indicates that when Trump says, ‘if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will’ he means it.
China—which supplies 90 percent of North Korea’s food and energy—could force Kim Jong-un to the negotiating table. But it has been reluctant to put too much pressure on the North Korean regime. Why, because it fears its collapse. It doesn’t want its own migrant crisis as North Koreans flee north or a united, democratic Korea on its border.
However, no US president could accept a rogue state being able to hit the American mainland with nuclear weapons. This would be opening up the US to nuclear blackmail: give us billions or LA gets it. But without action, North Korea could have the capacity to threaten this within a decade.
As I say in the magazine this week, if China wants to prevent a war in its backyard, it should take Trump’s warnings on North Korea seriously and bring Kim Jong-un to heel