Is Kim Jong Un out-wheeling and out-dealing Master of the Deal Donald Trump? From Kent Harrington and John Walcott at marketwatch.com:
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is eager to hold a second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump. Since their first meeting in Singapore in June, Kim has consistently outmaneuvered his counterpart. Trump may still fancy himself a world-class deal maker, but the truth is that Kim — like Russian President Vladimir Putin — has got Trump’s number.
Kim’s bonhomie (real or feigned) and promises of denuclearization have muted Trump’s threats, brought the South Korean government closer to his side, and eroded international sanctions against his regime. Kim has accomplished all of this without diminishing his regime’s nuclear capacity, and he appears to have continued ballistic-missile development at 16 hidden sites. Having gone from nuclear-armed pariah to presidential negotiating partner, it is little wonder that Kim would want a second summit to consolidate his newfound international legitimacy and position in the global limelight.
Who is doing more to advance reform, diplomacy, and peace—Muhammad bin Salman or Kim Jong Un? From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:
While the whole civilized world is reeling in shock at the barbaric murder of Washington Post writer and Saudi “moderate” Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the spotlight moves away from another despot on the other side of the world whose temperament was once thought to be more volcanic: Kim Jong-un, communist dictator of North Korea.
Remember when President Trump first announced the Korean peace initiative? Boy oh boy, the Washington wonks went wild! Why, Kim is a monster! He’s killed millions! It’s a trick! Is Trump crazy? – because, they claimed, Kim certainly is! When the Singapore Summit finally occurred, and Trump actually met Kim, the event was declared a “failure” by the Western media before it had begun. The joint statement that came out of the meeting was deemed to be so vague as to be meaningless, and the whole thing was written off by the mandarins of the Beltway as one of the President’s whimsies.
Posted in Crime, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, Investigations, Media, Politics
Tagged Kim Jong Un, Muhammad bin Salman, North Korea, President Trump, Saudi Arabia
North and South Korea are making more diplomatic progress than they have since the Korean War, but their efforts are being denigrated or ignored. From Mel Gurtov at antiwar.com:
On September 18 leaders of North and South Korea signed a September Declaration to advance inter-Korean cooperation and the possibility of the North’s denuclearization. Critics immediately dismissed the agreement for having accomplished nothing on the latter objective while largely ignoring what was accomplished on the former. From my perspective, the critics have it wrong: They have bought into the Trump administration’s narrative about denuclearization and failed to pay attention to the importance of North-South Korean cooperation as a tool for reducing tensions on the peninsula and, potentially, for neutralizing if not eliminating North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
Few people outside Washington are likely to read the text of the September Declaration or the accompanying military agreements signed by the two countries’ defense ministers. These documents, far from being mere window dressing, contain substantive tension-reducing steps. And the symbolism is important too: These are agreements by and for Koreans. As the declaration states: “The two leaders reaffirmed the principle of independence and self-determination of the Korean nation, and agreed to consistently and continuously develop inter-Korean relations for national reconciliation and cooperation. . . . ”
For their own nefarious reasons, many neocons and other purveyors of US war do not want to see peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula. From Eric Margolis at lewrockwell.com:
Springtime in Korea. Peace and love have erupted all over the mountainous peninsula as the leaders of the two rival nations seek to end the nearly seven decades of hostility between them.
One can’t underestimate the passionate longing felt by most Koreans on both sides of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) for some form of reunification – or at least reattachment – of the two nations. Amazingly, the 1950-53 Korean War has never been ended by a peace treaty so a simmering state of war exists between North and South Korea in spite of past attempts to end it. During the war, 33,686 Americans died and 128,600 were wounded, and the two Koreas suffered over 2 million dead. Chinese casualties were heavy. Continue reading
Justin Raimondo has a different take on the North Korean situation. From Raimondo at antiwar.com:
The media continues to get the President’s North Korean peace initiative all wrong: in some cases this is due to laziness, Washington-centric group-think, and just plain ignorance. In other cases, it is quite deliberate. Take, for example, the recent “news” that Trump canceled Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s scheduled trip to Pyongyang due to a “belligerent” letter sent by the North Koreans to the White House. What is the source of this alleged development? A single report in the Washington Post put out there by one Josh Rogin, not a reporter but an opinion columnist with strong neoconservative inclinations. Rogin attributes this information to “two senior administration officials” while admitting that “[t]he exact contents of the message are unclear.”
It’s annoying now, this establishment onslaught against negotiations with anybody or peace anywhere, but it’s hard to see how in the long run that’s anything more than a strategy that will backfire. You can’t come out and actually say you’re against negotiations and peace, so have to resort to lies and subterfuge, which the establishment and its media arm are employing with reckless abandon. From Gareth Porter at theamericanconservative.com:
Press irresponsibly relies on single-source report to accuse Kim of breaking an agreement he never made
President Trump and North Korean President Kim Jong Un shake hands in summit room, June 12, 2018. (Office of the President of the United States/Public Domain)
In late June and early July, NBC News, CNN, and The Wall Street Journal published stories that appeared at first glance to shed a lurid light on Donald Trump’s flirtation with Kim Jong-un. They contained satellite imagery showing that North Korea was making rapid upgrades to its nuclear weapons complex at Yongbyon and expanding its missile production program just as Trump and Kim were getting chummy at their Singapore summit.
In fact, those media outlets were selling journalistic snake oil. By misrepresenting the diplomatic context of the images they were hyping, the press launched a false narrative around the Trump-Kim summit and the negotiations therein.
The headline of the June 27 NBC News story revealed the network’s political agenda on the Trump-Kim negotiations. “If North Korea is denuclearizing,” it asked, “why is it expanding a nuclear research center?” The piece warned that North Korea “continues to make improvements to a major nuclear facility, raising questions about President Donald Trump’s claim that Kim Jong Un has agreed to disarm, independent experts tell NBC News.”
CNN’s coverage of the same story was even more sensationalist, declaring that there were “troubling signs” that North Korea was making “improvements” to its nuclear facilities, some of which it said had been carried out after the Trump-Kim summit. It pointed to a facility that had produced plutonium in the past and recently undergone an upgrade, despite Kim’s alleged promise to Trump to draw down his nuclear arsenal. CNN commentator Max Boot cleverly spelled out the supposed implication: “If you were about to demolish your house, would you be remodeling the kitchen?”
To continue reading: The Media’s Brazen Dishonesty About North Korean Nuclear Violations
The same usual suspects have lined up against Trump and Kim Jong Un’s negotiations and the Helsinki summit. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:
North Korea’s opacity is a boon to the War Party: they can seize on any glitch in the ongoing negotiations with the Trump administration as “proof” that Kim Jong-un “will never give up his nuclear weapons,” as former anti-interventionist Daniel Larison tweets 24 hours a day. The contention is that Pyongyang has a different definition of “denuclearization” than the rest of the world: it means US withdrawal from South Korea, we are told. Yet Kim has reportedly agreed to not dispute the presence of US troops in the south, and this is clearly a distortion of what’s really going on.
So what’s the real story?
We don’t know: all the “news” stories about this matter pretend to be omniscient, as if reporters were flies on the wall listening in to the negotiators. This is obviously not the case, and it is especially true in this case: North Korea is a closed society, and access is granted only rarely. This has led to the improbable impression that it is a monolith, that there are no factions or political struggles. This is a) impossible, and b) disproved by history. Indeed, the history of the ruling Korean Workers Party is one of continuous power struggles followed by ruthless purges: there are even reports of actual fighting between rival units of the military.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s most recent trip to Pyongyang is being depicted in the media as a rebuke and a major setback for the peace talks, the major point being that he did not meet with Kim and was treated rather shabbily. Yet we don’t know the reason for this, although the “experts” and the media pretend to know. Of course, I don’t know, either, and yet my own theory is a lot more credible, given the historical context, than the “we got suckered” dogma that the phony “experts” – Trump-haters all – are circulating.
Kim is not just looking for a peace treaty and the elimination of hostilities: as I’ve written previously, he has launched a radical new turn toward the West. Today he rules over a ramshackle country that cannot feed its own people: the “Juche” system of absolute autarchy isn’t working because it cannot work. This failure undermines Kim’s legitimacy, and he is determined to correct it not with piddling little reforms but by transforming his country in much the same way as Mikhail Gorbachev transformed the Soviet Union and put the country on a path to complete de-Sovietization. In short, Kim wants Pyongyang to resemble Singapore rather than Senegal.
To continue reading: From Singapore to Helsinki: The Case for Peace