Is North Korea’s ICBM Really A Hoax?

The Hwasong-14 missile that arched over North Korea on July 4 was hailed by its leader as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), “capable of reaching anywhere in the world.” The announcement sparked headlines across the world, prompting frantic diplomatic activity and launching a flood of comment and analysis.

This should not be surprising: while most of Kim Jong Un’s missile tests in the last couple of years had only regional implications, the debut of an incipient ICBM has global ones. A nuclear-tipped, global range ICBM in North Korea’s arsenal could change the balance of power not only in East Asia, but the entire world.

As a result, the question of what this missile really was, and what it could or couldn’t do, is being fiercely debated between diplomats and analysts. Was it a hoax? Was it a propaganda ploy? Or was it a true ICBM, or at least a precursor to an ICBM? These questions impact directly on the global policies of the major powers – hence the frantic effort to solve the mystery.

Let’s examine the three theories aired to date.

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The Case Against Attacking North Korea

Crispin Rovere and I discuss foreign policy all the time. Usually on Twitter. Virtually always on opposite ends of the argument. Not surprisingly, we again disagree over how the United States should respond to North Korea’s first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last week.

In his latest piece, Crispin describes potential consequences of two fundamentally different futures: one where the Trump administration tolerates Pyongyang’s crossing of the ICBM threshold, bringing it a step closer to possessing a capability to launch nuclear strikes on the U.S. homeland, and one where Washington acts militarily to destroy the North Korean nuclear arsenal. He concludes that the latter is the “least bad alternative,” stressing that, unlike the former, a military campaign would show the whole world that proliferators will suffer consequences, and would end the awful Kim regime, reunify the two Koreas, and maybe even bolster America’s long-term position in Asia, notably vis-à-vis China.

He is wrong. I have already explained here what I regard as the “least bad agenda” after North Korea’s ICBM test, but let me respond to Crispin’s points, which I fear may be gaining currency in some U.S. policy circles.

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6 Ways Trump Administration Putting Strong China Policy In Place

Since President Donald Trump took the oath of office in January, he has taken a series of actions and used diplomatic channels to put in place many of the China policies he spoke about on the campaign trail, including confronting the nation on trade, North Korea, the South China Sea, and human rights.

Here are six ways the Trump administration has taken action against China, including the president’s tweets about trade:

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US Successfully Tests THAAD Missile System Amid North Korean Tensions

The U.S. on Tuesday test-fired its THAAD anti-ballistic missile system from Alaska that successfully intercepted a target missile launched from an Air Force Cargo plane north of Hawaii.

The drill was previously scheduled in June and comes a week after North Korea successfully test-launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of hitting Alaska.

THAAD is used to intercept short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. It does not target intercontinental ballistic missiles. The U.S. has a perfect record on launches, hitting 14 out of 14 targets.

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China’s Spy Network In United States Includes 25,000 Intelligence Officers

Dissident reveals up to 18,000 Americans recruited as Chinese agents

Beijing’s spy networks in the United States include up to 25,000 Chinese intelligence officers and more than 15,000 recruited agents who have stepped up offensive spying activities since 2012, according to a Chinese dissident with close ties to Beijing’s military and intelligence establishment.

Guo Wengui, a billionaire businessman who broke with the regime several months ago, said in an interview that he has close ties to the Ministry of State Security (MSS), the civilian intelligence service, and the military spy service of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

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How Xi And Trump Can Make Real Progress On North Korea

The Presidents Xi and Trump have several things in common: both entered professions in which their fathers gave them natural advantages. (Xi Jinping’s father, the revolutionary hero Xi Zhongxun, helped build China’s Communist Party; Donald Trump inherited a fortune, and a real-estate business, from his father, Fred.) Xi and Trump both perceive the world in zero-sum terms. Both dispute the notion of loyal opposition. And both favor coercion over consensus.

But, in most respects, Trump struck the Chinese leadership as an oddity, and, as soon as he became President, Chinese leaders started reading his books in search of clues to his thinking. From “The Art of the Deal” they concluded, among other things, that Trump’s theatrical demands are only a tool of negotiation. Trump’s approach, according to Cheng Li, of the Brookings Institution, who researches Chinese élite politics, was clear: “You should put some of your demands outrageously high, so you will never be a loser.”

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Five Key Takeaways From Trump’s Second European Excursion

President Donald Trump concluded his second overseas trip as president Saturday — a high-stakes trip the president defined by coupling an “America first” agenda with a deep appreciation for key U.S. allies and shared values.

“I will represent our country well and fight for its interests! Fake News Media will never cover me accurately but who cares! We will #MAGA!” Trump tweeted Friday. He added Saturday, “The #G-20Summit was a wonderful success and carried out beautifully by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Thank you!”

Over the course of his three days spent abroad, there are several key takeaways Americans can glean from Trump’s trip:

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