We wholly endorse President Trump's decision to declare North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism.
The president's action escalates U.S. pressure on Kim Jong's Un regime and affirms that support for terrorism carries painful consequences.
North Korea's terrorist culpability is long standing and sustaining. Over the past 30 years, the Kim dynasty has blown civilian airliners out of the sky; it has used chemical weapons against a civilian in a crowded airport; it has engaged in cyber-terrorism against countless individuals, businesses and governments; and it has advanced Iranian missile capabilities.
North Korea has also kidnapped thousands of South Koreans, more than a dozen South Koreans, and a number of Americans, imprisoning them in a parasite-infested gulag. Some, like young American Otto Warmbier, are so terrorized by North Korean agents that their lives end in pain.
These terrorist atrocities earn Kim his new label many times over.
Yet Trump's declaration is also positive in the new sanctions it carries. Tightening the noose around Kim's neck, the newly announced sanctions prove Trump has rightly chosen to ignore Chinese requests for appeasement. Instead, the president is showing a credible penchant for Theodore Roosevelt-style statecraft.
Consider how, on his recent trip to Beijing, Trump adorned his host, President Xi Jinping, with praise and offered conciliatory words towards drawing Kim into negotiations. Unfortunately, Trump's soft words did not return the dividends he hoped for and China has avoided truly tough action to influence Kim's regime.
So in response, Trump is now resorting to the stick and upping the pressure once again. Joining the buildup of U.S. military power in the western Pacific, Trump's declaration and sanctions illuminate his dissatisfaction to China and to Kim.
It's the right approach.
While we sometimes lament the president's uneven temperament on Twitter, we give him credit for the perception of unpredictability he has cultivated with foreign adversaries. We note, for example, Kim's decision to avoid ballistic missile tests since Trump's eye-opening "Rocket Man" speech in September. Trump, Kim has been forced to contemplate, may well be ready to carry out each of his threats.
Peace through strength has been the guiding principle in this administration, and with regard to North Korea, it seems to be working.