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From Syria to North Korea: Trump’s Doctrine of Ineptness

Beijing.

Let’s call it the “inept’ doctrine. You see, the US can now bomb a state on the basis that that state’s main ally has been, in the words of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson describing Russia, complicit or simply incompetent. Speaking to the national security Adviser H.R. McMaster, he was referring to what he claimed was Russia’s inability to control Bashar al-Assad.

This is chilling and came as President Donald Trump was hosting Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Will China now be classified as inept or complicit for failing to control North Korea’s missile testing?  Presumably the US would have failed to meet the Tillerson criteria when it failed to stop Saddam, then the US-backed Gulf policeman, from using chemical weapons that killed thousands of people in Halabja in 1988.

No one knows how Xi reacted to the attack on Syria.

But some Chinese officials must have noted the complicit comment. For in Washington, what applies to Russia’s actions in Syria holds sway for Chinese, wait for it, complicity, in North Korea.

It’s a no-win situation for Beijing. If North Korea continues to test missiles that land in the Sea of Japan, then China is not doing its job. If North Korea desists, then China is doing what is expected of them and shouldn’t gain any plaudits. Let us not forget that North Korea is considered, by defence planners, to be of strategic interest to the US. Syria was and is not.

And the Trump administration have declared that regarding North Korea, all options are on the table. Clearly, this is not the case. Candidate Trump suggested that he was open to dialogue with North Korea. This approach, judging by the rhetoric over the last week or so, seems to have been discarded. But dialogue does have some merit. Sanctions clearly are not working.  And Pyongyang will no doubt take the attack on Syria as justification for more missile testing, to bolster its defences. The Chinese consider the current state of affairs between the US and North Korea as a train crash about to happen unless someone slams on the brakes. Their warning will probably be dismissed as inept.

Steak and sole were on the menu, so too was chocolate cake and sorbet as Trump played host to Xi. The Chinese delegation had left less than two hours after dinner had started, around the same time that the 59 Tomohawk missiles, at $1 million a piece, were slamming into their targets.

“No child of God should ever suffer such horror,” Trump said as he announced the strike. The children of the Middle East have been enduring horrors for decades. There are clearly children of a lesser god. If he is seeking retribution for the suffering of children then Tomahawk shares should surge. Especially if it was a trial run for a strike on the Korean peninsula.

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Tom Clifford is a freelance journalist and can be reached at: cliffordtomsan@hotmail.com.

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