North Korea has now demonstrated its ability to reach parts of the United States with an intercontinental ballistic missile, and the most powerful response President Donald Trump could muster was a tweet.
North Korea's mercurial 33-year-old leader, Kim Jong Un, has escalated the nuclear threat to alarming proportions. The stakes are too high for Trump to trivialize it with a Twitter takedown.
An already nervous world has even more reason to be worried when America's president responds with: "North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!"
Trump demonstrated repeatedly on the campaign trail that he had little interest or depth of knowledge about international affairs. As president, Trump seems reluctant to deliver a bold, authoritative response to his most urgent national security threat.
The world is looking for U.S. leadership regarding North Korea, not a buck-passing tweet.
Resolving such issues requires the American president to exercise deft personal diplomacy. Trump must rally friends and foes alike toward a common goal of blocking or delaying North Korea's nuclear program.
China has its own geostrategic agenda, which doesn't necessarily coincide with America's.
Russia might well seek to exploit the situation to further embarrass Washington and drive a wedge between the United States and its regional allies.
There are growing indications that China might be exploiting North Korea's nuclear advances to pressure Washington into withdrawing its nuclear forces from the region.
China also seeks recognition of its sovereignty over a group of man-made islands in the South China Sea, where Beijing is constructing military bases. Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam, among other regional powers, have reason to be worried about any U.S.-China grand bargain negotiated at their expense.
These are just a few of the major considerations that make Korea such a complex issue -- far more so than the domestic health care debate that left Trump flummoxed when he declared in February, "Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated." North Korean nukes make health care look like a cakewalk by comparison.
Precious little room exists for misunderstanding. Yet, given the list of other items on Trump's recent Twitter agenda, Pyongyang and Beijing could easily get the impression that he ranks North Korea's missile test up there with his tweets about an MSNBC critic's plastic surgery or his posting of a doctored video designed to make it appear as if Trump had delivered a professional-wrestling takedown of CNN.
Trump must give this situation the gravity and seriousness it deserves. Twitter is not a nuclear deterrent.
-- St. Louis Post-Dispatch