The formal end of the Korean War is finally on the horizon, maybe this year.  This was long overdue, really.  Perhaps it could be the start of something…hopeful for the Korean peninsula.

Am I the only one who sees this as an echo of the Berlin Wall collapse?  It gives me the same feeling, and I confess leaves me a bit choked up to see.  It’s unquestionably a good thing, but then, as now, we can only wonder what comes next.  It could very easily still go all to hell.  I haven’t been the least bit optimistic in any of my previous posts on the topic of North Korea, nor has anyone I regularly read or listen to anticipated what has just come to pass.

I’ll be honest.  I thought Trump was going to launch strikes.  He’s done it to Syria and Assad wasn’t even threatening us.  Seemed reasonable to assume, didn’t it?  So maybe you can safely ignore my current “cautious pessimism”, since I’ve clearly been proven wrong on this topic.

Instead, Trump took a hard-line.  He applied pressure on China and every corporate entity that in any offered succor to the Kim regime.  He even exchanged insults with Kim.  All of it sent the message: “You aren’t going to get what you want with your old tricks this time.”

It worked, thus far anyhow.  Don’t just take my word for it, with my (unsigned) red MAGA ballcap.  Moon Jae-in says so too.

Sure, you can point to a number of non-Trump factors that might have cowed Kim.  The Chinese sanctions were particularly unbearable, I’m sure.  It also appears that the last nuclear test may have irreparably damaged the North Korean testing site (China also can’t be happy about the potential, literal fallout).  What shouldn’t be in dispute is that we wouldn’t be here now if Trump had just played along and threw some aid at Kim to behave himself for a few years, as his predecessors always have.

One criticism I’ve read for Trump agreeing to meet with Kim is that he’s broken with the tradition of all previous post-war US presidents to ever agree to meet one-on-one with a North Korean leader.  My response to that is, “Why shouldn’t Trump meet with Kim?”  A nuclear and hostile North Korea is a direct threat to us.  I give few shits what input the Japanese and South Koreans might have on our vital interests if unilateral talks are what Trump has to give to get a solution to the problem.

Trump clearly has maximum leverage going into his meeting with Kim, but what exactly can either concede to the other?  What would you want in Kim’s position?  In his place, I’d try the South Diet and cardio requesting the removal of US troops from the DMZ.  Above all else, the Kim family has always depended on two things for maintaining the loyalty of the North Korean people.  Fear of the United States, retaining the belief that only the Kim’s are strong enough to protect the people from the United States, and fear of dying in a nightmarish prison camp.  Three.  Three things.  And a fanatical devotion to the godlike stature of the Kim family–FOUR things.

If the threat of the US is removed, it becomes impossible for Kim to maintain power by propagandizing against us.  On the other hand, giving up the nuclear program while the US is still a threat is weakness and Kim will almost certainly face the probability of getting Ghaddafi’d at some time in the future.  I’d be perfectly happy if US forces left the Korean peninsula altogether in exchange for a firm peace and denuclearization.  I’m just not sure how much it will mean if Kim is subsequently overthrown and replaced by a military junta when he’s perceived as loosening up too much (or Gorbachev’d).

Trump’s challenge is to convince Kim Jong Un that playing along with what we want will bring him security through the prosperity of his people.  That means that Donald Trump has to convince Kim to trust Donald Trump.  Trump was elected because he swore he’d make the best deals.

Well, this is the biggest deal of his term so far.  Trump has every advantage going in and Kim has everything to lose if he doesn’t get something.  All we can do is watch and see if the last Cold War front’s resolution proceeds as well as the first in Berlin.

16 comments

  1. It wasnt a few months ago, that the talking heads, all were screaming about the dangers of Nuclear War, and how Trump was gonna kill us all…….It looks like the bluster and twitter rampages might have paid off. Assuming that this isnt some complex end run that the Norks are planning, we could finally see some real end to the regime of NK..
    Assuming to that Trump dont fuck this up,either.

    I have to wonder thought if something else happened to push the Norks tot he table. A few weeks back i saw a image of the USS Jimmy Carter, a Virginia class SSN, that is optimized for Spec/op warfare, come into port flying the skull and bones, . This is a indicator of a successful covert mission, and it was reported to be in the Korea AO, on its deployment… sooo. i have to wonder if that was somehow involved.

  2. Assuming to that Trump dont fuck this up,either.

    I honestly don’t know how Trump even could fuck it up. If negotiations fall through, Kim is screwed. He can’t survive under pressure from the US and China at the same time. The US will go on either way.

  3. I’m skeptical; we’ve seen situations like this come up before and nothing came of it. But I’m hopeful that this time it will work out. It would be kind of astonishing if Kim went from anti-aircraft gunning people to death to this.

    “My response to that is, “Why shouldn’t Trump meet with Kim?””

    This was my thought as well. I’m not sure I would give Trump a lot of credit here, but maybe his willingness to do The Things That Must Not Be Done was a factor here. The Washington consensus ain’t always right.

  4. If the war ends, the Nobel Peace Prize will go to…Obama. No, wait, I mean Kim Jong Un. No way in hell does it go to Trump, even though his efforts and the result would be more than Obama did for world peace in 8 years, let alone the months he had in office before earning his.

  5. Obama got one for being him. They probably wouldn’t give it to Trump, though-but what if they did? The reaction from the Left alone would be worth it. The other downside for the Left? Dennis Rodman may be out of a job as clown ambassador.

  6. This thread seems like a logical read of the situation .

    Logical, sure, and his credentials are outstanding in this area compared to mine.

    Just a couple of places where I disagree with him in my (as usual) non-expert opinion.

    1. The credit for Trump’s leadership bringing it to this point comes from the SK president, not simply what Trump supporters are saying. It’s killing Kelly to acknowledge it, but any other president would have simply offered Kim some aid and bought him off for a while longer.

    Of course, Trump may still do that.

    2. I don’t care that Kim is a human rights abuser or even the worst one. He’s behaving like a threat and either Trump can meet with him personally to work out an agreement that he’ll stop being a threat or we can start lurching toward a wider war. I firmly believed we were heading for war but I prefer this route.

    3. I don’t think Kim is negotiating from a position of strength at all. If anything, he stands to lose a lot domestically from any deal, as I said above. I honestly think he’s out of options, but doesn’t want to lose it all.

    Kelly seems torn. He doesn’t like either Trump’s “belligerence” or that he’s “making concessions”.

  7. Any deal that’s good for South Korea and the US will be bad for the credibility of the North Korean regime. In the past, any Communist leader that tried real change often got the heave-ho from his own leadership, but so far Kim seems safe, perhaps because he (and before him his daddy) already got rid of anybody who could be a threat.

    So the latest White House Correspondents’ Dinner was this weekend, hosted by somebody I’ve never heard of:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJlWGO5XHPk

    Compare with past hosts, including Stephen Colbert and Bush, which was actually funny:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2X93u3anTco

  8. Will, Obama was roasted by the right when he said he’d meet with such people. Why is this different?

    I would assume there has been significant pressure on Kim from China for him to be doing this, and Trump is partly responsible for that.

    Although as a cynic I’m still assuming this is a con until there is sufficient evidence otherwise.

  9. Will, Obama was roasted by the right when he said he’d meet with such people. Why is this different?

    Coming from the perspective of a recuperating ODS patient, the opinion was that Obama seemed to believe that all of the problems in the Middle East are fundamentally the result of American foreign policy and its arrogant high-handedness. His belief was that if he just showed he meant them no harm, that it would be enough to make a deal because he would woo the Iranians with his humility and personality. It’s why you had him bowing to everybody early in his presidency.

    The Right thought he was being naive about Iran.

    Trump, on the other hand, has moved in two carrier groups to the seas around North Korea, threatened massive nuclear response as a retaliation for nuclear attacks, twisted the Chinese’s arms into complying with sanctions, and enforced a blockade. Then when Kim came forward to make a deal, Trump offered him an opportunity.

    Trump’s method makes more sense to me.

    I would assume there has been significant pressure on Kim from China for him to be doing this, and Trump is partly responsible for that.

    Yeah, I really don’t want this to be a debate about whether Trump gets the lion share of the credit. History will have to judge based on what happens.

    I mean, Americans largely give credit to Reagan for the fall of the Berlin Wall but he wasn’t even in office when it happened. I don’t think the Europeans give him any credit at all.

  10. There are a number of reporters and political activists that North Korea has let in to experience life there. There’s a consensus opinion that Kim was extremely rattled by Libya giving up nukes and getting a knife up his ass (literally) for that good faith effort. So, he made sure he had his nukes and now that he is assured lifetime control over the nation he’s on to phase two: he wants to modernize the country and become an economic power.

    I won’t say trump had nothing to do with this, but I will say it was less to do with trump’s e-thugging and more to do with obama turning his back for eight years of development.

    But, whatever. Now they have nukes and they can do whatever the fuck Un’s chubby little heart desires. Trump cucks are eager for a win in a sea of scandals but this isn’t one of them. Un has the power to tell everyone to fuck off and China knows there’s more money in North Korea as a trade partner buying shitty Chinese cars than they are positioned as slave labor. So they pressured. South Korea shits their kimonos about the prospect of a regime change ala Libya because the refugees have no marketable skills except being able to speak Korean. They’d immediately head south. Japan won’t accept refugees and they want a happy South Korea so dealing with un is better than dealing with a refugee crisis that would make the Syrian civil war seen like a crowded day at Disneyland by comparison.

    We don’t have that much foreign influence anymore, and it’s almost non existent in Asia now that China is flexed. In addition trump campaigned on not wanting to exert influence in world politics, and even said things like “japan needs to pay up” in return for our military presence there.

    If trump is to be rewarded for anything, it’s because for the first time ever, the world looks at the USA as an unpredictable liability, so these nations decided they’d better actually do something themselves because any alternative invoking us as a partner would be more regretful than offering trump a free McDonald’s buffet.

  11. I’ll say this for you: when you’re wrong, you at least put a lot of effort and vitriol into it.

    So, he made sure he had his nukes and now that he is assured lifetime control over the nation he’s on to phase two: he wants to modernize the country and become an economic power.

    Except he’s offering to give up his nuclear program in exchange for a formal end to the Korean War and assurances that the US won’t invade. If he wants to work on becoming an economic power (won’t happen), that’s his own affair but it isn’t happening unless he stops shooting missiles over Japan and developing nuclear weapons.

    I won’t say trump had nothing to do with this, but I will say it was less to do with trump’s e-thugging and more to do with obama turning his back for eight years of development.

    Huh?

    Trump cucks are eager for a win in a sea of scandals but this isn’t one of them.

    Your much-beloved Trump-Russia story is thoroughly unraveling. What scandals should any Trump supporter be concerned about?

    We don’t have that much foreign influence anymore, and it’s almost non existent in Asia now that China is flexed.

    We have plenty of influence, we just have fewer core interests anywhere. China is a complete joke. They can’t replace the US economically or militarily and never will.

    If trump is to be rewarded for anything, it’s because for the first time ever, the world looks at the USA as an unpredictable liability

    I argue that Trump has made the USA more predictable by actually following through on what he says and backing up the rhetoric. Being unpredictable is when you get the UNSC to agree to establish a no-fly zone on the condition that you won’t assist in regime change and then doing it anyway, since you want to bring up Libya.

  12. Trump has reversed himself on TPPA, the one thing I previously gave him credit for. Judge is 100% correct, the world considers the US to be completely (reliably!) unreliable under this Administration, but there are some positives in that we’re all getting on with it anyway while you guys have your little break from the world/sanity.

  13. I won’t say trump had nothing to do with this, but I will say it was less to do with trump’s e-thugging and more to do with obama turning his back for eight years of development.

    The combination TDS bad/ODS good that you’re suffering from might reach the fatal stage soon.

  14. That Trump-Loving Cuck, the President of South Korea has gone on the record to say Trump should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to denuclearize NK and end the war.

    But what does he know, the Nazi loving cuck. Obama’s the real reason.

  15. Judge is 100% correct, the world considers the US to be completely (reliably!) unreliable under this Administration, but there are some positives in that we’re all getting on with it anyway while you guys have your little break from the world/sanity.

    See, your comment is a great representation of why Americans feel like the rest of the world takes us for granted and what made Trump’s presidency so palatable.

    What you don’t understand is that we’re not having “a little break from the world”. We’re done. The days of the US maintaining the old order are over. We’re no longer interested in sacrificing jobs, money, blood and everything else for the sake of a world that gives us little in return. That’s going to be as true of the Democrats in 2020 as it is Trump.

    Where you and JDPS are wrong is that neither of you understand that “China’s rise” wouldn’t be possible without the US guaranteeing the free trade that allows them to meet their energy needs and sell their shit all over the world. They can’t do it themselves in our absence. Nobody can. And it’s all going away.

    They know that and it’s why they know they have more to lose from a trade war or incurring America’s anger for propping up North Korea than we do.

    This is the new normal, CM. The US is acting according to its own interests….and nobody else’s. And we will remain very, very consequential whether you think the world is doing fine without us running it or not.

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