On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that North Korea has begun rebuilding essential missile test facilities. The move comes at what was largely seen as a failed diplomatic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam last week.
Writing in the Washington Post, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin is unsparing in her criticism of Trump's global policy, especially in relation to dictators around the globe.
"President Trump has been played for a sucker by many of the world’s most vile autocrats," Rubin writes.
"Give him a glowing orb and he’ll look the other way if you murder and dismember an U.S.-based journalist. Roll out the red carpet and Trump will be silent on China’s human rights abuses. Help Trump get elected and, soon, he’ll be spouting Cold War talking points to justify the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan."
She points to the President's defense of Kim Jong Un in the brutal treatment of Otto Warmbier, an American student who was tortured in a North Korean prison and died upon his return to the US.
Since they should be well aware of Trump's many shortcomings on the global stage, Rubin observes, the GOP should be doing a lot more to contain the President.
But she also allows that there's been positive pushback on North Korea. "Given the weak and dim president, it’s up to Congress to provide adult supervision. Fortunately, that is happening with regard to North Korea," she notes.
She points to the bipartisan legislation “Otto Warmbier Banking Restrictions Involving North Korea (BRINK) Act,” co-sponosored by Republican Senator Pat Toomey and Democrat Chris Van Hollen. The bill would impose sanctions on banks that do business with the North Korean government.
Rubin wonders if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will wrangle Republicans into support the bill, or once again concede to Donald Trump.
"I’m curious to see whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) allows a vote on that measure, or whether he would rather concede Kim a propaganda victory than cross Trump," she writes.
She concludes that Congress must do its job and not allow dictators to run roughshod over US democracy and global interests.
"Whether it is North Korea, China, Russia or other bad actors, it is incumbent on Congress (as many members have done in reassuring NATO allies, most recently at the Munich Security Conference) to remind the world that U.S. interests in supporting democracy, countering the proliferation of nuclear weapons, checking international aggressors and addressing problems of mutual interest (e.g., climate change) will outlive the Trump presidency — at least if the voters don’t sentence us and the world to another term. Congress can only hold the line for so long," she concludes.