Tag Archives: Moon Jae-in

Price of the Alliance: The F-35 Undermines Korean Peace, South Korea’s National Security, by Stu Smallwood

If you’re going to be a US ally, you sure as hell are going to buy US weapons. From Stu Smallwood at antiwar.com:

South Korean President Moon Jae-in did something very unusual in early October for a leader who once deemed the Korean peace process among the highest priorities of his administration: He promoted the very fighter jets that North Korea says undermine diplomacy.

President Moon was on hand to celebrate the first delivery of the Lockheed Martin F-35A “next generation” fighter jets that, with 40 in total set to arrive by 2021, represent the most expensive weapons purchase in South Korean history according to Reuters.

“The war of the future will be a fight of science and intelligence against all elements that threaten our people’s safety and property,” Moon said in a speech to promote the jets, noting that he felt “secure about the might of [South Korea’s] military armed with new … F-35As.”

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President Moon Loses the Trust of North Korea as Prospects for Peace Look Grim, by Stu Smallwood

The prospects for peace and reunification on the Korean peninsula have taken a turn for the worse. From Stu Smallwood at antiwar.com:

“His shameless talk of dialogue between the North and South [at a time like this] raises questions about his mental faculties… We have nothing to say to South Korean authorities and have no intention of sitting down with them again.”*

These are just some of the highlights of a North Korean spokesperson’s ruthless response to Moon Jae-in’s August 15 Liberation Day speech in which the South Korean president called for unification of Korea by 2045 and the establishment of a North-South peace economy.

The “time like this” mentioned by the spokesperson for the North Korean Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country is a reference to the insulting training drills ongoing between South Korean and US forces – specifically a simulated counterinsurgency campaign in North Korea after successfully conquering Pyongyang in 90 days.

Laughable as this simulated scenario is (China and Russia would never sit back and let North Korea be conquered so swiftly), the comments embody the all-too-predictable outcome of these offensive drills: the North Korean government is upset and has lost complete trust in the South Korean president who once led the peace process.

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Trump & the Bolton-Pompeo Axis, by Patrick Lawrence

Can Trump maneuver around Bolton and Pompeo, or can South Korean president Moon Jae-in maneuver around the US government to move towards peace and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula? From Patrick Lawrence at consortiumnews.com:

Patrick Lawrence eyes the U.S. president’s difficulties with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton as he tries to resume peace talks with Pyongyang.

Moon Jae-in’s Oval Office meeting with President Donald Trump last Thursday marked an important step forward for both leaders. The South Korean president appears to have drawn Trump away from the all-or-nothing “big deal” he proposed when he last met Kim Jong-un — an offer we now know was intended to precipitate the North Korean leader’s rejection. Trump won, too: The encounter with Moon has effectively put the Dealmaker back on his feet after the calamitous collapse of the second Trump–Kim summit in Hanoi two months ago. A top-down agreement on the North’s denuclearization is once again within reach.

Moon faces Trump; working lunching in Washington, April 11, 2019. (White House/ Shealah Craighead via Flickr)

The importance of the Moon–Trump summit, while eclipsed by news of Julian Assange’s arrest in London the same day, is not be underestimated. Even before receiving Moon, Trump announced for the first time that he is willing to summit with Kim for a third time. While still stressing the North’s complete denuclearization as the U.S. objective, Trump also said he is open to the incremental diplomacy he precluded with his everything-at-once offer in Hanoi.

“There are various smaller deals that maybe could happen,” Trump said before he and Moon withdrew to the Oval Office. “Things could happen. You can work out step-by-step pieces, but at this moment we are still talking about the big deal.”

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Opinion: North Korea’s Kim Jong Un continues to outmaneuver Donald Trump, by Kent Harrington and John Walcott

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.

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A Victory for Diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula, by Mel Gurtov

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. . . . ”

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South Koreans Reject Pro-War Old Guard as Moon’s Peace Party Wins Big in Local Elections, by Stu Smallwood

The South Koreans are solidly behind their president’s peace effort. From Stu Smallwood at antiwar.com:

When South Koreans went to the polls yesterday they registered their unambiguous backing for President Moon’s Democratic Party and the peace process that is a signature policy of his administration. In doing so, they also dealt a devastating blow to the country’s main faction hostile to North Korean diplomacy.

Here’s how one South Korean outlet summed up the results: “In what was considered an opportunity to measure the public support of the Moon Jae-in administration one year into its term, the Democratic Party achieved an enormous victory in the local elections of June 13th, providing even more political flexibility for Moon’s government…. At the same time, the Liberty Korea Party suffered a historically crushing rout that has seen its power wither, leaving it solely with its [traditional strongholds]…as the party appears on the verge of being swept away in a maelstrom of internal discord with members looking for someone to blame for this defeat.” (Translation of original Korean by author.)

The Democrats took 14 of the 17 metropolitan districts voted on today, including the city of Busan and Southeast Gyeongsang Province – both former mainstays of the Liberty Party. They also captured 11 of the 12 seats in the National Assembly bi-elections held the same day. The assembly now houses 130 Democratic representatives to 113 from Liberty with the full election coming in 2020.

While these results were largely expected, they represent a stunning fall from grace for the once-dominant political force in South Korea. Harsh as the outcome was for the Liberty Party as a whole, it may be the final death knell for its leader Hong Jun-pyo, who had declared his intention to retire from politics if Liberty failed to take at least six of the major jurisdictions voted on today.

If this truly is the end for the beleaguered conservative leader, it’s to his credit that he went down swinging during a final election rally in Seoul on the eve of the vote, deriding the Singapore summit for failing to deliver any concrete results. It was the kind of rhetoric that – coming from an ostensibly influential South Korean politician – should be music to the ears of the anti-peace American media establishment. But his time is up, and South Koreans have shown that politicians who oppose North Korean diplomacy don’t hold sway in the country any longer.

To continue reading: South Koreans Reject Pro-War Old Guard as Moon’s Peace Party Wins Big in Local Elections

Career State Department Officer Rages: 5 Media Myths Of Trump-Kim Summit, by Tyler Durden

Not that it’s difficult, but President Trump and Kim Jong Un just made the mainstream media look like the idiots they are. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

In the midst of Tuesday’s historic Trump-Kim summit and accompanying myriad pundits giving their hot takes on mainstream news networks, 24-year State Department veteran and geopolitics expert Peter Van Buren began an epic rant on twitter with the following: “If you’re keeping score at home, every pundit and MSM head who claimed the summit would never happen, or Trump would blow up, is now 100% and forever wrong. Still watching CNN????”

Van Buren is best known as a whistleblower who was ousted from a successful career as a foreign service officer after he chronicled the astronomical amount of US government waste, fraud, criminality and abuse in post-Saddam Iraq based on his experience leading two reconstruction teams for the State Department.

His 2011 book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, which precipitated a lengthy legal battle with the US government as he stood accused of leaking allegedly sensitive and classified information in the book, initially earned him the ire of beltway bureaucrats, mainstream pundits, fanatical neocons, and liberal interventionists alike. But he was proven right.

Career State Department officer and U.S. Envoy to Iraq Peter Van Buren. Image source: We Meant Well

During and after the Trump-Kim meeting Van Buren live tweeted in reaction to the cable news shows repeatedly slamming the whole event as a charade merely meant to score domestic propaganda victories for both leaders.

Here are 5 media myths which persisted throughout the day’s wall-to-wall mainstream coverage based on career State Department expert Peter Van Buren’s analysis…

* * *

Myth #1: Trump “betrayed” US ally South Korea

No, the South Korean’s were not “betrayed” or “abandoned” as Vox , MSNBC, and many others claim — the reality is opposite: the peace efforts are being led by the South Koreans, as President Moon Jae-in’s own unambiguous words indicate, saying he was very happy with the meeting.

“I offer my heartfelt congratulations and welcome the success of the historic North Korea-United States summit,” Moon’s statement begins.

The fact remains that 81% of South Koreans supported the summit, and 88% supported the prior Kim-Moon summit. Moon also has an 86% approval rating. 70% of Americans support the meeting.

The pundits now claiming “betrayal” of South Korea have no clue what they’re talking about.

To continue reading: Career State Department Officer Rages: 5 Media Myths Of Trump-Kim Summit

Democrats Use Bipartisan Anti-Diplomacy Playbook, but Moon Has Changed the Game, by Stu Smallwood

To his credit, South Korean leader Moon Jae-in is bound and determined to reach terms with Kim Jong Un regardless of what the US does. From Stu Smallwood at antiwar.com:

With the Singapore summit fast approaching, leading Democratic Senators headed by Chuck Schumer went to battle against diplomacy, issuing a letterto President Trump on June 4th demanding an impossible set of preconditions for North Korean sanctions relief. In doing so, they took a page out of an old bipartisan playbook for derailing diplomatic initiatives with pariah states.

Making an Offer They Must Refuse

In the letter, the Democrats announced their resolve to oppose any sanctions relief unless (to paraphrase) North Korea agrees to 1) dismantle and eliminate all chemical and biological weapons (in addition to nukes); 2) completely cease production and enrichment of uranium and plutonium for weapons purposes and dismantle all related infrastructure; 3) eliminate all existing ballistic missiles and never test another (giving up the sovereign right to possess conventional weapons for national defense); 4) permit to surprise inspections “anywhere, anytime” to verify the absence of the above (presumably yielding access to every corner of the state, including Kim Jong-un’s bedroom); and 5) consent to these outrageous conditions unto eternity.

Every single one of these demands is hugely problematic as a precondition for sanctions relief, but taken as a whole they represent a package for completely robbing North Korea of its sovereignty. No independent nation would agree to these demands, particularly one that is legitimately paranoid about being subject to US regime change. The preconditions in the letter are, therefore, none other than a blatant attempt to kill this peace process before substantial progress is made.

And even if a potential agreement with North Korea doesn’t come in the form of a treaty to be ratified by the Senate, Schumer has indicated what will most likely be the approach taken by the Democrats in Congress, who have the ability to block any deal and obstruct sanctions removal.

To continue reading: Democrats Use Bipartisan Anti-Diplomacy Playbook, but Moon Has Changed the Game

For Lasting Peace, President Moon Must Lead South Korea Out of America’s Orbit, by Stu Smallwood

It seems like the only chance for lasting peace anywhere on the planet is to be out of America’s orbit. From Stu Smallwood at antiwar.com:

It didn’t take much for the leaders of the two Koreas to put an end to the decades-long culture of crisis pervading the Korean Peninsula. With a phone call, a quick drive to the North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone, and a public embrace, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un emphasized the absurdity of the barrier wedged between a people with a common history, culture and language.

It was the United States’ aversion to diplomacy that encouraged Moon and Kim into one another’s arms on May 26th, and it may ultimately have been the impetus needed for South Korea to take the lead in ensuring this peace process — a top priority of the current administration — is a success.

Moon’s agreement to meet with Kim so soon after Trump unilaterally called off the Singapore summit was nothing short of an act of defiance against the US administration, something no South Korean president before him would have had the domestic backing to do.

With images of their embrace broadcast around the world, North Korea’s genuine interest in diplomacy became undeniable and the onus was immediately put on the United States to reopen the summit. Failure to do so would throw into stark relief what few politicians, media members or regular South Korean people have been willing to acknowledge — that the United States has been the most to blame for antipathy between the two Koreas since the Korean War.

Forced to follow suit, Trump eventually declared the summit will go ahead after all. Though his decision should be applauded, the process remains a lengthy one with no clear end in sight — at least not a positive ending — if America alone is permitted to determine its outcome. After all, it is extremely risky to trust the United States, and the North Koreans know it.

America: An Unreliable Diplomatic Partner with a History of Duplicity

The stated aim of this whole process is, of course, peace through North Korean denuclearization — something the US establishment remains skeptical Kim will ever do. Yet while the North’s commitment to nukes is often stated as the reason why this initiative won’t end successfully, in truth it is America’s long-standing policy of North Korean regime change as well as its overall record of duplicity, betrayal and general lawlessness around the world that makes it impossible for Kim to completely believe any security guarantees the Trump administration may offer as the process moves forward.

To continue reading: For Lasting Peace, President Moon Must Lead South Korea Out of America’s Orbit

Never Underestimate the Power of a Question, by Robert Gore

What if? Why not?

Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip, has a phrase—mental prisons—for looking and thinking at problems in the same old way. He’s hailed President Trump and Kanye West as escapees. That’s fine as far as it goes, but key to any kind of general escape is recognizing that governments are the wardens.

Hospital administrators and doctors within Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) were little Alfie Evans’ wardens. They determined the 17-month old’s brain condition was terminal and he was in an irreversible vegetative state, and ordered his life support withdrawn. Alfie’s parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, contested the prognosis and the order. That they had to go to a court for permission to seek alternative medical arrangements tells you all you need to know about state-provided medical care. That permission was denied offers a sneak peek into Britain’s impending totalitarianism. Alfie died April 28.

Never underestimate the power of questions, they are the most powerful positive force in the universe. Questions embody curiosity, courage, and a quest for the truth. They initiate investigation, hypotheses, experimentation, new knowledge, and progress. The first questions humanity’s forebears asked began the long, arduous journey to civilization.

MAGA was the Trump acronym; his symbol should have been the question mark. The two are related. The acronym implies America is no longer great, which prompts the obvious question: Why? The source of most of the vitriol directed toward Trump is not so much his answers, which have often been contradicted by his actions. Trump’s transgression is that he dared to question in the first place: immigration policy, foreign military intervention, trade agreements, costs of alliances, corruption, and so on.

Government creates a comfortable status quo for government, string pullers, and beneficiaries. Its prime imperative is to preserve itself. Any change perceived as a threat will be resisted, stifled, and squelched. Questions are inherently threatening, so Trump must be stopped at all costs. Tom Evans and Kate James must not be allowed to challenge their son’s death sentence. Kanye West must be shamed and ostracized.

A deadly deception sells government with terms like “progressive” and “liberal.” Governments are coercion, which is always regressive and illiberal. They are captured by a society’s wealthiest and most powerful and used to cement that group’s status. Crumbs are tossed to the lower rungs, not to improve their station but to make them dependent on the government and ensure their support. Criticism of this arrangement is tolerated only to the extent it can’t be suppressed, but suppression always looms, sometimes blatantly, sometimes in barely perceptible ways.

Scott Adams and other commentators see Kanye West as the start of something dramatically new among blacks. Doing electoral math, some foresee an appreciable downshift in blacks’ usual 90 percent plus support for Democrats, which will, they claim, doom the donkeys. Such triumphalism is misplaced.

It’s not like Kanye West is the first black to question black fealty to Democrats. Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams have been skewering shibboleths on race for decades.

Indian-American Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary Hillary’s America examined the Democrats’ long history of overt racism. It’s support of slavery, the Klu Klux Klan, Jim Crow, poll taxes, and segregation, and its opposition to anti-lynching and civil and voting rights legislation made the racist south a solidly Democratic bastion for almost a century. Blacks voted overwhelmingly Republican for seventy years after the Civil War.

Franklin D. Roosevelt switched them to the Democratic column. The impetus was primarily economic and political, not civil rights. The New Deal helped those most devastated by the Depression, many of whom were black. Politically, Roosevelt offered them a place in the Democratic coalition, although it put them in uneasy alliance with the southern racists. The switch offers insight into blacks unwavering support for Democrats since Roosevelt.

Years ago, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board started referring to the Democratic “plantation” for blacks, and the phrase is still in use, usually by conservative commentators who regard it as a bold badge of political incorrectness. Blacks ignore it and the implicit question: when will they “wake up,” realize their slavery, and flee the plantation? If they’re receiving economic and political benefits from Democrats and governments, paid for in part by taxes coerced from The Wall Street Journal’s editors and conservative commentators, who’s the slaves?

While racism may never be excised entirely, blacks’ legal status and their position vis-a-vis America’s governments have never been better. Many receive substantial economic largesse from the government, including cash, in-kind benefits, and preferences in hiring and contracting. Blacks, almost always Democrats, have been elected to just about every political office in the land, including the presidency. Multi-millionaire West doesn’t need government, but millions of blacks do, and they vote for the party that identifies itself as the party of government.

One can argue that black dependence on the Democrats and government is bad for them; dependence of any kind usually is. Everyone knows overeating can kill you, but we still have an obesity epidemic. Black dependence is a shackle, but it’s durable and won’t be unlocked just because a rich rap star questions it.

Presidents have found shackles easier to break when they don’t involve domestic constituencies. Nixon went to China and Trump is going to the Korean peninsula to negotiate with Kim Jong-Un. While the outcome is uncertain, if Trump eventually gets an agreement by which North Korea denuclearizes, perhaps in exchange for the US withdrawing troops from South Korea—or at least stopping war exercises—and security guarantees from the US and China, it will be a triumph. Moon Jae-in, Kim Jong-Un, and Trump will deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.

Trump asked what if the stalemated status quo that had held sway on the Korean peninsula since the cessation of hostilities in 1953 could be broken. The usual establishment and media suspects said their nays (see “Media Pundits Horrified by Prospect Between North and South Korea”) but had only the usual palaver when Trump asked why not. It’s a measure of how bizarrely ossified their thinking has become that a peace and nuclear disarmament initiative is mocked, lambasted, and rejected out of hand before negotiations have even begun.

Trump is also questioning the status quo on Iran, pulling the US out of the Iranian Nuclear Agreement. Evidently he wants to negotiate a better deal. The move is thoroughly questionable: his strategy has a lot of moving parts and he’s taking significant risks. Time will tell if things work out, but once again Trump is indisputably disrupting the consensus.

The welfare and warfare state consensus should be questioned and disrupted at every turn. The empire and its bread and circuses have corrupted and bankrupted the nation. Government is an intellectual tar pit that slows, traps, and submerges curiosity and inquiry. Questions are the hallmark of free minds. The state is the natural enemy of free thought. A fight for the latter is a fight against the former. Questions will spark the coming battle. They are weapons of independence and revolution which governments can never wholly suppress. Were they ever to do so, we’d all share Alfie Evans’ fate: hitched to their life support until they decided to kill us.

You Should Be Laughing At Them!

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