Tuesday, November 14, 2017

NATIONAL SECURITY: President Trump’s Diplomacy Toward North Korea

Bart Marcois, opslens.com
Image (not from article) from
Diplomacy itself is a combination of persuasion, threats, warnings, deals, and exchanges of views. The popular view of diplomatic communication is that it is sophisticated, nuanced, and above all polite. However, the most important element of diplomatic communication is clarity. President Trump made his position very clear when he promised “fire and fury” if Kim doesn’t stop his nuclear missile project. That was diplomacy, making sure that Kim understands clearly the consequences of his continued actions.

An example of a more subtle public diplomacy comes in a report about new weapons developed by the Air Force and the Sandia national energy lab. The USAF Counter-Electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP), developed by Boeing’s Phantom Works, uses high power microwaves (HPM) to destroy electronic hardware. It can be deployed with pinpoint accuracy to render all hardware inoperable in a given area such as a radar array, command post, or a launch facility. It can destroy the electronic guidance system of an ICBM, or the detonation system of its warhead, and even destroy every bit of electronic hardware in a command bunker buried deep within a mountain.

Meanwhile, Sandia National Laboratories has developed nanobots resembling insects, which can be deployed to deliver a fatal dose of toxin to Kim Jong-un. Although current U.S. policy forbids the assassination of foreign leaders, that policy was established by an executive order from President Gerald Ford, and could be undone by an executive order from President Trump. Not all executive orders are made public, of course, so it is possible that Trump already has changed our policy, but this is a topic best reserved for a separate article.

Both of these weapons systems were developed under the utmost secrecy, but their existence was made known earlier this year. The decision to release that information was a quiet stroke of public diplomacy. It is a warning to Kim that he is not safe inside his bunkers, and that if he issues a command for a nuclear strike, his missiles will fail. It is yet another instance of the attempt to prevent war by making clear our capability to win it.

In a similar vein, the U.S. Navy has sent three carrier groups to the East Sea (the Sea of Japan), and over the weekend released aerial footage of them. The capacity of a single carrier group to wage war is well known, and having three carrier groups all focused on a single country is a clear sign that our military is prepared for war. That too is public diplomacy, a show of force and demonstration of capability to back up the messages President Trump delivers to our allies and North Korea’s. ...

[D]on’t be misled by public posturing between Trump and Kim: diplomacy will not fail until every avenue has been exhausted with Kim’s patrons.

Bart Marcois

Bart Marcois (@bmarcois) is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and was the principal deputy assistant secretary of energy for international affairs during the Bush administration. Additionally, Marcois served as a career foreign service officer with the State Department. He is a director at the Richard Richards Foundation.

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