US should be ready for war with North Korea  

From the Washington Examiner:

Sen. Tom Cotton is warning that North Korea isn’t interested in relinquishing its nuclear weapons and can’t be trusted to negotiate in good faith, just as President Trump is preparing to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un without preconditions.

“We should be taking more steps than we are right now to be ready to fight a war, if that’s what’s necessary, with North Korea,” the Arkansas Republican said in an interview with “Behind Closed Doors,” a Washington Examiner podcast. Cotton, 40, is a combat veteran of the Iraq war.

Cotton, a close ally of the White House, discussed the matter one day before Trump surprised the world by announcing plans to hold a summit with Kim, currently planned for May. The administration is trying to force North Korea to dismantle a nuclear weapons program that threatens U.S. allies in Asia and could soon endanger the American mainland.

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North Korea: Trump-Kim meeting proves our president’s strategy worked  

From Fox News:

President Trump’s upcoming meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un — announced Thursday night to a shocked world — is a stunning vindication of the president’s strategy and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster’s artful behind-the-scenes acumen.

North Korea’s invitation for the meeting and President Trump’s acceptance marked a historic step. If a genuine rapprochement occurs on President Trump’s watch, leading to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the impact on global security and President Trump’s legacy will be enormous.

But at this point, it’s important for President Trump and his foreign policy and defense team to proceed with extreme caution. While they deserve credit for cracking the North Korean silence, the historical record suggests this could be a trap, if not an intentional distraction.

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What could go wrong? Pitfalls pose risks in Trump, Kim talks  

From AP News:

So President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are planning a summit. What could possibly go wrong?

The two countries haven’t had significant, high-level talks in years and, as White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders emphasized, a meeting between the two leaders themselves could be the fastest way to turn around what has become an increasingly dangerous impasse.

So a lot could go right. It’s a bold, audacious and potentially groundbreaking gambit by both leaders.

But if Trump doesn’t play his cards wisely, and if his decision to accept Kim’s summit offer was as hasty as the details out in public now suggest, he could risk unnecessarily elevating Kim’s global status, setting up a diplomatic breakdown, and rushing other — possibly military — action to make up for it.

The AP asked three experts what they believe are the major pitfalls ahead. Here are their thoughts:

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North Koreans tease nuclear weapons concessions. Should Trump believe them?  

From USA Today:

After weeks of charm diplomacy during and immediately after the Pyeongchang Olympics, North Korea has now offered up a stunner: an offer to get rid of its nuclear weapons entirely if the Korean standoff can somehow be ended and the nation’s security guaranteed. And in another, even bigger stunner, President Trump himself has agreed to meet with North Korean President Kim Jong Un — by May.

The world is spinning upside down.

What is going on here? If most of this seems to be too good to be true, it probably is. Trump is to be credited for his effective international sanctions campaign against North Korea, but it is very hard to believe that it has brought Pyongyang to its knees so quickly. Nor is it credible that Kim has turned into a nice guy so fast.

Most likely, sensing its growing isolation, North Korea has decided to try new tactics without changing its underlying strategy. Whether North Korea really still aspires to a forceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula, it probably still does intend to remain a nuclear-armed, hypermilitarized and menacing dictatorship. Kim probably hopes that conveying a genuine willingness to talk will be enough to prevent further tightening of international sanctions, at a time when the North Korean strongman might have genuinely started to worry about where his country’s economy is headed.

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Trump will accept Kim Jong Un’s invitation to meet, White House says  

President Trump will accept an invitation by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to meet, the White House confirmed Thursday night, in a dramatic development after months of sabre-rattling between the two world leaders.

Kim extended an invitation to meet with Trump and the president agreed that the two would meet by May, South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong announced at the White House.

“President Trump greatly appreciates the nice words of the South Korean delegation and President Moon,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. “He will accept the invitation to meet with Kim Jong Un at a place and time to be determined. We look forward to the denuclearization of North Korea. In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain.”

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CIA boss gives latest indication Trump may consider a preemptive strike on North Korea

From the Daily Beast:

The Central Intelligence Agency is briefing President Donald Trump on the risks and opportunities of a limited attack on North Korea, its director suggested on Tuesday.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo would not discuss the “wisdom of a preemptive strike” on Pyongyang or its nuclear weapons program, he told an audience at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. But in rare public remarks, Pompeo portrayed North Korea as an urgent priority for the agency, and disclosed aspects of its role in setting back Kim Jong Un’s nuclear program during his first year at Langley.

Kim is a rational man, Pompeo said the CIA had assessed. But it’s less clear that Kim takes seriously the prospect of a U.S. attack, something that could blunder the world into a devastating nuclear conflict.

Pompeo would not answer if options exist for Trump to attack North Korea short of a nuclear war. Analysts warn a limited strike would lead to such a war should North Korea retaliate and prompt escalation. He indicated instead the administration was developing a range of options spanning from diplomacy to war, so Trump will not face a binary choice between inaction and potential nuclear devastation.

North Korean officials ransack farmers’ homes in search of food for Kim’s hungry army

From Fox News:

North Korean officials desperate to feed Kim Jong Un’s hungry army are ransacking the homes of drought-stricken farmers to collect every last grain of food inside, according to a report that highlights rising tensions between the regime and the public.

The raids come weeks after news surfaced that soldiers in Kim’s army are being given months off at a time to scrounge around fields to find food.