North Korea
Up The Escalation Ladder We Go

North Korea’s testing of its first ICBM on the Fourth of July has put the world in a starkly different place, strategically speaking, than it was earlier this week. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wasted no time in taking the next step:

The US has called for a global effort to ratchet up economic pressure on North Korea as it condemned Pyongyang’s launch of its first intercontinental ballistic missile as a provocative “escalation”.

“Global action is required to stop a global threat,” said Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, as the US and South Korea fired missiles into the sea in direct response to the North Korean action. Mr Tillerson said: “Any country that hosts North Korean guest workers, provides any economic or military benefits, or fails to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime.”

It’s hard to see any alternative to ratcheting up the pressure. But each step up the ladder of diplomatic escalation makes it harder to capitulate in the end if, as seems likely, Pyongyang won’t budge. U.S. Presidents from Bill Clinton on have kicked this can down the road. Trump may be the President who runs out of road…

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