North Korea has test-fired short-range ballistic missiles more a dozen times in recent months; tests that violate a U.N. resolution against North Korea that prohibits the testing of ballistic missiles.
Although our allies in South Korea and Japan along with some members of Trump's own regime have said the tests violate the resolution, Trump has publicly provided covered for the tests by downplaying their significance and praising North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong-un.
The New York Times now reports that these weren't the ordinary or insignificant tests that Trump said they were. American and foreign intelligence services has concluded that North Korea has been testing new technology with greater range and capability.
Now, American intelligence officials and outside experts have come to a far different conclusion: that the launchings downplayed by Mr. Trump, including two late last month, have allowed Mr. Kim to test missiles with greater range and maneuverability that could overwhelm American defenses in the region.
Japan’s defense minister, Takeshi Iwaya, told reporters in Tokyo last week that the irregular trajectories of the most recent tests were more evidence of a program designed to defeat the defenses Japan has deployed, with American technology, at sea and on shore. [...]
The rapid improvements in the short-range missiles not only put Japan and South Korea in increased danger, but also threaten at least eight American bases in those countries housing more than 30,000 troops, according to an analysis of the missile ranges by The New York Times. Such missiles, experts say, could be designed to carry either conventional or nuclear warheads.
The Times reports that "outside experts" say this has been a part of North Korea's strategy of improving their capabilities while stringing Trump along and smiling for the cameras, but we don't need experts to tell us that. We've all seen it happening in real time. We've seen North Korea's strategy bear fruit ever since Trump's first "summit" with Kim Jong-un in the summer of 2018.
With that said, I feel like I can't say with any certainty that Trump has been played as much as he's been a willing participant in this charade.
If Trump draws up plans to build a resort in North Korea when he's out of office, then I think we'll know the answer to that question.
It can be true that Trump is a mark and a fool and also true that being a mark and a fool is occasionally beneficial to him.