Should the United States start a war with North Korea, one which would kill millions of South Koreans and Americans on the Korean peninsula? President Donald Trump is not opposed to the idea. Americans seem split on the notion. But Ted Cruz seems to be warming up to it.
In an editorial for The Washington Post, the Texas senator called for a distinctly Trumpian foreign policy toward the Kim Jong-un-led country.
"President Trump’s November decision to designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism — in response to legislation I introduced that passed in Congress last year — was more than just a symbolic move," Cruz wrote. "The administration has not only plugged holes in America’s sanctions regime against Pyongyang, but it has also established a decisive break from the policy failures of past administrations."
After comparing the North Korean policies of previous presidents to the actions of "hesitant parents punishing rebellious children," Cruz argued that America needed to take a tougher approach to the wayward dictatorship.
"What the American people expect, and our allies need, is courageous leadership that forces Kim to respond on our terms and our timing," Cruz wrote. "America should employ all elements of our national power to reverse this dynamic, but none more so than robust economic sanctions."
Cruz also took two opportunities to specifically praise Trump, a president whose North Korean policies have drawn criticism for unnecessarily drawing America toward the brink of nuclear war. And even though there seems to be some thaw between North and South Korea, Cruz wasn't buying it, writing that America should not contemplate reversing its sanctions policy.
"Conceding our sanctions policy with no demands or measured return would lead us back to the failed policies that Trump has rightly begun reversing," Cruz wrote. He later gave Trump credit for "Chinese President Xi Jinping’s limited cooperation" in trying to bring about a solution to the North Korean crisis — despite Trump's vacillating opinion on the subject.
Cruz's praise of Trump's policies toward North Korea echoed that of Jamie Fly, a foreign policy expert with the German Marshall Fund who spoke with Salon in November.
"I'm not a fan of the Twitter diplomacy that Trump often tries to use. I think the reality, though, is that Kim Jong-un — because he is so intent on acquiring this nuclear capability of hitting the United States — he is an erratic, unpredictable figure. So I don't think the risky partner in this equation is Donald Trump. It's Kim Jong-un," Fly told Salon.
Unlike Cruz, Fly did not view Trump's foreign policy toward North Korea as a major break from the approach used by previous presidents.
"If you actually look at the playbook of what they've done and set aside Trump's rhetoric, it's very much, you know, the conventional approach. It's just ramping up the pressure," Fly told Salon.