Since taking office 102 days ago, Donald Trump has taken heat from the left about his rhetoric concerning his foes on the Hill, on Twitter, and those who stand in the way of his domestic policy agenda. Critics have claimed that his remarks have not been presidential and far too brash, causing the nation great embarrassment while achieving little.
Last week, Trump has once again proven these critics wrong and his strength has led to yet another foreign policy victory.
Candidate Trump criticized NATO member states for failing to contribute their required share of money based on a percentage of their respective GDP. He called the organization obsolete. Within months, under threat of the U.S. pulling support for NATO, member states began to significantly increase their contributions and developed plans for how to meet their required targets.
In office, the president warned North Korea that he would not tolerate the development of a nuclear- capable missile. This was the typical policy line taken since the Clinton administration, but unlike past presidents, Trump went a step further by threatening force. He also did so after ordering a cruise missile strike against Syrian military targets after it used chemical weapons against civilians, crossing the red line that President Obama had set and then failed to enforce (his most embarrassing moment, in retrospect.)
With that, the U.S. regained its credibility and restored our faith in deterrence. Trump's decision to back up red line positions with force left many stunned and put the world on notice that after eight years of a feckless foreign policy, the U.S. now means what it says.
This was not lost on the most important international actor when it comes to North Korea: China. China is North Korea’s largest trading partner and the only nation that really has the ability to bring North Korea to its knees. After years of inaction, China immediately responded to Trump's actions and words by cutting off North Korean coal imports and canceling airline travel between Beijing and Pyongyang.
Since that time, Trump has publicly ordered the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and its accompanying strike group to cancel its port visit to Australia and instead head toward the waters off of the Korean peninsula. It is now within striking distance of North Korea, providing the president with military options should North Korea fail to heed his warning not to conduct long range missile tests - or a sixth nuclear test.
China, once again, responded to Trump’s bold behavior. It declared that it would enact unilateral sanctions on the dictatorship if Kim Jong-un failed to listen to Trump’s warning about missile and nuclear tests. So far, it appears that the isolationist leader is backing down and a conflict will be avoided.
Only time will tell if the North Korean nuclear crisis is resolved peacefully. But for the first time in a long time, the United States has a president that the world is taking seriously.
And we are all reaping the rewards.