Well, as you can see, almost no one is actually being sanctioned. I’m not really for or against sanctions–it depends on whether they work and OFAC did say it would significantly hurt NK and I agree–but they really only blocked 10 entities and six individuals, most of whom are Chinese. This is more of a warning shot at China, telling them to stop supporting North Korea’s military aggression toward the United States. In this way, it may help. Kim Jong Un showed a vague sign of backing down on bombing Guam when he announced he would bomb outside of U.S. territorial waters about Guam. However, that could also be an attempt to get us to shoot down their missiles even though they are allowed to test them in international waters. Under international law, we’re not allowed to do that, which means they could say we provoked them. If we do nothing to stop them, it only takes a slight course correction or even a miscalculation to actually hit Guam. Therefore, it’s not clear what KJU is doing, but it’s more likely that he’s trying to trick us into doing nothing in response to missiles getting closer and closer to U.S. territory.
However, there’s another problem with these sanctions. There is an interconnected system of alternative financial networks that span the globe but are heavily concentrated in China, Pakistan, Iran, and other countries allied with China. That’s why we have to block the people that are helping people who are already blocked. In other words, we may have to widen the net further to help those who are helping the helpers. Eventually, they could get smart and get people to help them who are also influential to the United States, meaning we’d have to hurt ourselves to hurt China and North Korea.
To clear, these sanctions are aimed squarely at China, and it is meant to be a strong statement, as we all know Trump hates China. However, it’s a little breathless. I prefer sanctions over the alternative to going to war, but if they don’t work, you have to try something else. If we don’t, then we could making China think we don’t have any other options, and if we really don’t, then they could put us in check or at least in a reactionary position in which we basically keep chasing them while they stay one step ahead of us like they’ve been for a while now.