The cartoonist gets it (sort of):
North Korea keeps testing missiles that can reach the United States. China could turn off trade with North Korea, and effectively force them to stop, but that isn’t happening. Why the hell not?
A story in Newsweek says the bulk of Chinese trade with North Korea involves just ten Chinese companies. The working assumption is that those ten companies are so “connected” and powerful that even the Chinese government can’t influence them, or might not want to try.
Fair enough. That makes the government of China common observers in this drama. Embarrassing for them.
This is where he’s wrong. The Chinese government is perfectly capable of bringing major corporations to heel when it wants to. The problem in this case is that the government doesn’t really want to. From the Newsweek article:
Other analysts simply believe that a nuclear North means a permanently divided peninsula, rather than one under Seoul’s rule, and that Beijing will forever be happy with that arrangement because it wants no part of a united Korea allied with the U.S. on its border.
By the way, South Korea is fine with a divided peninsula too.
But those ten companies are certainly our enemies. I’d say those ten companies are fair game for a cyberattack, a financial attack, competitive attack, and any other kind of non-military attack we can mount.
That’s clever, and the account in the Newsweek article suggests that US policy is moving in that direction. Diplomatic and verbal measures have spectacularly failed. But the full range of non-kinetic options hasn’t been exhausted yet. Hopefully, something like this will work and the US won’t have to resort to war, because that would be an utter disaster for everyone.