Tag Archives: North Korea

Korean Summit: It’s Not About Us, by Justin Raimondo

The real diplomatic story on the Korean Peninsula is this week’s summit between the North and South Korean leaders, not the summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

Yesterday they told us that President Trump was intent on war – he was about to invade Korea¸ unleash “fire and fury,” and millions would die.

Today many of these very same people are telling us that President Trump has been “snookered” by the wily Kim Jong-un, who doesn’t really mean all the pre-summit concessions he’s already made quite publicly. Trump, they say, is about to give away the farm to the North Koreans without getting anything in return.

The only constant note emitted by the Trump-hating chattering classes is their obsessive focus on That Man in the White House. Yet this development actually has little to do with Trump, at least in its origins: indeed, it’s not about us. The Korean summit came out of the election victory of President Moon Jai-in, whose signature campaign issue was reintroduction of the late lamented “Sunshine” policy of rapprochement with the North.

Moon and Kim will meet this week in a preliminary summit leading up to the supposedly bigger event, the Trump-Kim super-summit. Or so the conventional wisdom would have it: after all, isn’t everything in the world really about us?

Well, no, but you’ll have a hard time telling the pundits and policy wonks that. They don’t realize that the real summit is taking place this week in Korea, as the two leaders form a united front against Washington’s War Party – hoping to enlist Trump on their side.

As for the President, he’s optimistic but rightly says “we’ll see if it works out,” even as he lists the concessions already made by the North, which include:

  • A commitment to complete denuclearization
  • A pledge to end nuclear testing
  • A pledge to end ICBM tests.
  • A statement dropping their longtime demand for the withdrawal of US troops from South Korea.

Significantly, the office of President Moon and the North Koreans have jointly declared their intention to formally end the Korean war, presumably by signing a peace treaty, replacing the current armistice.

Prediction: Trump will make a big show of accepting it, and implicitly taking credit for it. But, hey, the Koreans don’t care who gets the credit, nor do they care about the vagaries of American politics except as they affect the ability of the Korean nation to reunite and recover from their national trauma.

To continue reading: Korean Summit: It’s Not About Us

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“Big Progress” – North Korea To Halt Nuclear, ICBM Tests; Dismantle Test Site; Pursue Peace, by Tyler Durden

This looks like good news. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Update 3: President Trump has tweeted the “good news,” adding that this move was “big progress.”

“North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World – big progress! Look forward to our Summit.”

Update 2: North Korean Leader Kim’s full statement (via KCNA):

The decision “to include the great victory of the economic construction and nuclear armed forces construction transfer line” includes the following decisions.

  • First, in the course of struggle to carry out the party’s translation, we carried out the nuclear test and the underground nuclear test, the miniaturization and the lightening of the nuclear weapon, and the project for the development of the ultra-large nuclear weapon and the transportation means sequentially and faithfully realized the nuclear weaponization. I declare it solemnly.
  • Second, from April 21st, Juche 107 (2018), the nuclear test and the intercontinental ballistic rocket test will be discontinued. North Korea’s nuclear test center will be discarded in order to ensure the transparency of the suspension of the nuclear test.
  • Third, the suspension of nuclear testing is an important process for global nuclear disarmament, and the DPRK will join international efforts and efforts to halt the nuclear test altogether.
  • Fourth, we will never use nuclear weapons unless there is nuclear threat or nuclear provocation to our country, and in any case we will not transfer nuclear weapons and nuclear technology.
  • Fifth, we will concentrate all the efforts to build up a strong socialist economy and mobilize the human and material resources of the country to dramatically raise people’s lives.
  • Sixth, we will establish a favorable international environment for the construction of a socialist economy, and will intensify close dialogue and dialogue with neighboring countries and the international community in order to protect the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the world.

To continue reading: “Big Progress” – North Korea To Halt Nuclear, ICBM Tests; Dismantle Test Site; Pursue Peace

Every Kingdom Divided Against Itself, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

America is a house divided, and the rest of the world knows it. From  Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:

In Matthew 12:22-28, Jesus tells the Pharisees:

Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.

In 1858, US Senate candidate Abraham Lincoln borrows the line:

On June 16, 1858 more than 1,000 delegates met in the Springfield, Illinois, statehouse for the Republican State Convention. At 5:00 p.m. they chose Abraham Lincoln as their candidate for the U.S. Senate, running against Democrat Stephen A. Douglas. At 8:00 p.m. Lincoln delivered this address to his Republican colleagues in the Hall of Representatives. The title reflects part of the speech’s introduction, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” a concept familiar to Lincoln’s audience as a statement by Jesus recorded in all three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke).

 

Even Lincoln’s friends regarded the speech as too radical for the occasion. His law partner, William H. Herndon, considered Lincoln as morally courageous but politically incorrect. Lincoln read the speech to him before delivering it, referring to the “house divided” language this way: “The proposition is indisputably true … and I will deliver it as written. I want to use some universally known figure, expressed in simple language as universally known, that it may strike home to the minds of men in order to rouse them to the peril of the times.”

On April 12, 2018, the Washington Post runs this headline:

We need to go big in Syria. North Korea is watching.

The WaPo is undoubtedly disappointed that James Mattis prevailed over more hawkish voices in Washington and the least ‘expansive’ attack was chosen.

Then after the attack, Russian President Putin warns of global ‘chaos’ if the West strikes Syria again. And I’m thinking: Chaos? You ‘Predict’ Chaos? You mean what we have now does not qualify as chaos?

Yes, Washington Post, North Korea is watching. And you know what it sees? It sees a house divided. It sees an America that is perhaps as divided against itself as it was prior to the civil war. An America that elects a president and then initiates multiple investigations against him that are kept going seemingly indefinitely. An America where hatred of one’s fellow countrymen and -women has become the norm.

An America that has adopted a Shakespearian theater as its political system, where all norms of civil conversation have long been thrown out the window, where venomous gossip and backstabbing have become accepted social instruments. An America where anything goes as long as it sells.

In an intriguing development, while Trump pleased the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN and MSNBC, his declared arch-enemies until the rockets flew, his own base turned on him. While the ‘liberals’ (what’s in a word) cheered and smelled the blood, the right wing reminded the Donald that this is not what he was elected on – or for.

To continue reading: Every Kingdom Divided Against Itself

South Korean Report on Summit Discredits US Elites’ Assumption, by Gareth Porter

Dig enough and you soon discover the news outside the US is radically different from what’s reported within the US. Certainly the US media is either downplaying or ignoring South Korean reports that Kim Jong Un may be ready to give up North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. From Gareth Porter at antiwar.com:

Media coverage of and political reactions to Donald Trump’s announcement of a summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have been based on the assumption that it cannot succeed, because Kim will reject the idea of denuclearization. But the full report by South Korean president Moon Jae-in’s national security adviser on the meeting with Kim last week—covered by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency but not covered in U.S. news media—makes it clear that Kim will present Trump with a plan for complete denuclearization linked to the normalization of relations between the US and North Korea, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The report by Chung Eui-yong on a dinner hosted by Kim Jong UN for the 10-member South Korean delegation on March 5, said the North Korea leader had affirmed his “commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” and said he “would have no reason to possess nuclear weapons should the safety of its regime be guaranteed and military threats against North Korea removed.” Chung reported that Kim expressed his willingness to discuss “ways to realize the denuclearization of the peninsula and normalize [U.S.-DPRK] bilateral ties.”

But in what may be the most important finding in the report, Chung added, “What we must especially pay attention to is the fact that [Kim Jong UN] has clearly stated that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was an instruction of his predecessor and that there has been no change to such an instruction.”

The South Korean national security adviser’s report directly contradicts the firmly held belief among US national security and political elites that Kim Jong UN would never give up the DPRK’s nuclear weapons. As Colin Kahl, former Pentagon official and adviser to Barack Obama, commented in response to the summit announcement, “It Is simply inconceivable that he will accept full denuclearization at this point.”

But Kahl’s dismissal of the possibility of any agreement at the summit assumes, without saying so, a continuation of the steadfast refusal of the Bush and Obama administrations for the United States to offer any incentive to North Korean in the form of a new peace treaty with North Korea and full normalization of diplomatic and economic relations.

To continue reading: South Korean Report on Summit Discredits US Elites’ Assumption

 

Trump’s Spur of the Moment ‘Yes’ Unmasked 68 Years of Washington Duplicity, by David Stockman

David Stockman explores US-North Korean relations since the Korean War. From Stockman at antiwar.com:

They say that even a blind squirrel occasionally finds an acorn, and by our lights the Donald just proved that in spades with his spur of the moment acceptance of Kim Jong Un’s proposal for a summit meeting. It is no exaggeration to say that the shock of it nearly sent Imperial Washington into cardiac arrest – as was surely attested to by the storm of censorious harrumphing that poured out of the mainstream media over the weekend.

The gravamen of all this high-toned blather is that Trump made the decision all on his own without asking his advisors – mainly a bevy of failed generals and recycled Washington war hawks – for their opinion. And that’s to say nothing of not grinding it through the NSC’s interagency paper mill for months on end or a prolonged ordeal of pre-summit diplomatic ping-pong about the shape of the table.

That prospective absence of bureaucratic foreplay was all that the Trump-o-phobic New York Times needed to belittle the most hopeful breakthrough for peace in years, if not decades, as just another case of Trump’s impetuosity and unfitness for office.

After noting that Mr. Chung, the South Korean envoy, had taken pains to “open with flattery, which diplomats have discovered is a key to approaching the volatile American leader”, the Times wasted no ink before slamming the Donald’s purportedly rash decision:

Mr. Trump accepted on the spot, stunning not only Mr. Chung and the other high-level South Koreans who were with him, but also the phalanx of American officials who were gathered in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump brushed them off (generals Mattis and McMaster). I get it, I get it, he said.

Where others see flashing yellow lights and slow down, Mr. Trump speeds up. And just like that, in the course of 45 minutes in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump threw aside caution and dispensed with decades of convention to embark on a daring, high-wire diplomatic gambit aimed at resolving one of the world’s most intractable standoffs.

The two bolded words capture the essence of the matter because there is nothing at all intractable about the Korean problem. It was born, bred and perpetuated in Washington all along, and could be unmade with alacrity in the same corridors of Imperial power.

To continue reading: Trump’s Spur of the Moment ‘Yes’ Unmasked 68 Years of Washington Duplicity

Could the Trump-Kim Summit Succeed? by Ramesh Thakur

Both the US and North Korea have ample reasons to reach some sort of agreement. Whether they will or not is another question. From Rahesh Thakur at project-syndicate.org:

The Kim-Trump summit is an opportunity that will be difficult to seize and easy to squander. For example, if Trump decertifies the Iran nuclear deal on May 12, ahead of the summit, the move would almost certainly call into question America’s good faith and ability to honor negotiated international agreements.

CANBERRA – Last year, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump were hurling kindergarten insults at each other – “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission,” said Trump of Kim; “mentally deranged US dotard,” Kim retorted – while threatening to reduce East Asia to a post-atomic wasteland. Now, in a stunning and dramatic development, the two are to meet by May. Kim reportedly is willing to denuclearize and eager to talk directly to Trump, who has agreed.

But optimism about this turn of events must be tempered with cautious realism. North Korea is the nuclear problem from hell. Neither South Korea nor the United States can control the narrative; definitions of success or failure are highly relative; and Trump must enter the talks with no exit strategy. The six decades since the Korean War ended in 1953 – with a ceasefire but no peace agreement – have hardened an increasingly dangerous stalemate. Although neither side is likely to launch a premeditated nuclear attack, the risk of warfrom miscommunication, misperception, or miscalculation is real.

All key announcements so far have come from Seoul, not Pyongyang or Washington. President Moon Jae-in, a son of refugees from North Korea, was elected on the promise of a two-track approach to the North: sanctions and diplomacy. This led to the Olympic initiative whereby Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, attended the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, and the two countries competed as one team. Afterwards, Moon’s national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, and intelligence chief Suh Hoon traveled to Pyongyang and Washington, where, standing on the White House lawn with Cho Yoon-je, South Korea’s ambassador to the US – but with no US officials present – they announced the summit.

Trump Is Making Diplomacy Great Again, by Justin Raimondo

Trump’s threatened war with North Korea was going to be the end of the world. Now his peaceful overture is the end of the world. Trump’s critics need to make up their frigging minds. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

The Trump-Kim summit: A great idea whose time has come

No sooner had I published a column entitled “And Now For The Good News,” predicting that the war on the Korean peninsula the Never Trumpers had been envisioning (and secretly hoping for) would not happen, and hailing the North-South negotiations as the first step toward a final settlement of the Korean question, then President Trump advanced the process a thousand-fold by accepting Kim Jong-un’s invitation for a one-on-one meeting.

The Washington policy wonks, the Never Trumpers, the right and the left – all erupted in a chorus of “He can’t do that!

Ah, but he can, he has, and he will.

Reports in the media have it that the three South Korean emissaries sent to Washington to report on the progress of talks with the North were interrupted in their internal discussions by the President, who walked into the room, heard them talking about the North Korean leader’s invitation to meet, and told them: “I’ll do it.”

Just like that.

This is supposed to be irresponsible, not at all the way Things Are Done, and indicative that the President is adrift at sea without a paddle. Yet it is the President’s adversaries who are adrift, and have been aimlessly floating in a stagnant sea of routinism since the non-end of the Korean war – while the threat of another war has slowly gathered on the horizon.

There are all sorts of objections from the self-appointed “experts” as to why direct US-North Korean negotiations – and particularly a personal meeting between Trump and Kim – is a Very Bad Idea. I’ll ignore the ad hominemattacks on Trump’s character, since these are subjective value judgments and cannot be either contested or proved. So that takes care of half of them. The other half have to do with the alleged lack of preparation and the supposed paucity of our diplomatic personnel conversant with matters Korean. Peter van Buren, a former State Department official, makes short work of this line of thinking here, and I’ll briefly quote a piece that should be read in its entirety:

“The State Department is gutted, say some. The United States has no ambassador to South Korea. The Special Representative for North Korea Policy just retired. But it is disingenuous to claim there is no one left to negotiate with Pyongyang simply because their names are unfamiliar to journalists.”

He goes on to name four, and adds:

“There are similar decades of Korean expertise at the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, in the military, as well as among South Korean diplomats, to support Trump’s efforts. Preparation? These men and women have spent their whole careers preparing.”

To continue reading: Trump Is Making Diplomacy Great Again