Peter Feaver, a Duke University political scientist who served as a senior adviser on the national security council for strategic planning under Bush, says these international doubts won't make it impossible for foreign leaders to back Trump if they support his strategy -- as demonstrated by the unanimous recent United Nations vote tightening economic sanctions on North Korea. But these widespread reservations, he adds, will make other leaders more cautious about supporting his initiatives. "It means you are carrying a few more rocks in your rucksack as you walk up that hill," Feaver says.
Against these headwinds, Feaver and other experts say, Trump has two major assets in building support for his North Korean brinksmanship. One is that the American public does see North Korea as a genuine danger: In a Chicago Council on Global Affairs survey released earlier this month, three-fourths of Americans described North Korea as a critical threat to the US.
Trump's other asset is that Americans recognize the diplomacy-centered approaches to North Korea employed by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have failed to materially slow the advance of its nuclear weapons program. Americans understand "this is not a problem of Trump's making," Feaver says. "Everyone knew this was coming due."
But Trump, Feaver adds, has created new problems by so relentlessly questioning the competence and loyalty of the intelligence community -- whose assessments inevitably would provide the foundation for any possible preemptive attack on North Korean nuclear facilities. "If what you are talking about is a preemptive or preventive strike on North Korea, that looks a heckuva lot like Iraq in strategic construction," Feaver says. Given that, he continues, Trump's own denunciations of the intelligence community, including for its failures in Iraq, has made it "harder to make a compelling case to the American public than it otherwise would have been."