That is the question asked by Gordon Chang in an excellent piece in the Daily Beast titled, “War With North Korea Starts to Look Inevitable.”
I am someone who believes a nuclear North Korea, particularly one with missiles that can reach the United States, is an intolerable situation. Meaning, it must be stopped one way or another, whether through military or economic pressure. It is an existential threat that poses too great a threat of ending our existence.
But Chang notes that the United States has not yet done all it can to pressure China into putting an end to a nuclear North Korea, which is remarkable given the stakes. From his piece:
Washington has allowed Chinese banks, large and small, to launder money for the North Koreans for decades. Americans reportedly have permitted Chinese leaders to help Pyongyang transfer missiles to the Iranians. The White House did nothing when enterprises connected to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army sold mobile launchers for the North’s intercontinental ballistic missiles. The U.S. has not asked the Chinese, at least in public, how North Korea’s most advanced missiles appear to be derived from China’s Jl-1. And Washington acted as if it did not matter when Chinese businesses allegedly sold uranium hexafluoride, components, and equipment for the Kim regime’s nuclear-weapons program.
What can the United States do to China? It can declare its largest banks “primary money-laundering concerns” under Section 311 of the Patriot Act, thereby denying them the ability to transact business in the world’s dominant currency. That would be essentially imposing a death sentence on the Chinese banking system and possibly China’s economy, perhaps the Communist Party itself.
Trump can also remind China’s leaders that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in the middle of last month formally initiated, pursuant to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, an investigation into Chinese intellectual-property theft. A finding of such theft—virtually assured—can lead to the imposition of high across-the-board tariffs on Chinese goods.
The Chinese economy, debt-fueled for years, is particularly vulnerable, especially in the run-up to the historic 19th Communist Party Congress, which begins Oct. 18. General Secretary Xi Jinping, who seeks to grab unprecedented power, cannot afford to see a major disruption of relations with the United States at this sensitive time.
Appearing on the John Batchelor Show Monday evening, Chang sounded legitimately incredulous that we do not seem to being exercising all our non-military options. He raised the question of how it could possibly be that the United States seems less willing to pay a financial cost for preventing North Korean nukes – given that an economic attack on the Chinese would harm the U.S. economy as well – than it is to pay for it with American lives. Chang pointed to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as one of the forces opposing harsh measures against China to get it to rein in North Korea.
Well, I think I have an answer. It’s because the well-heeled economic interests influencing the president on this matter do not send their kids into combat. It’s the poor and the middle class who go to war. If the children of Wall Street and corporate America were being drafted into the military, you’d see plenty of push to do everything possible before military force is used.