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Kim Jong-UN Is Not Trying to Pull a "Fast One" on Trump
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Kim Jong-un is not trying to pull a fast one on Trump. He doesn’t have something up his sleeve, and he’s not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. He wants to end the war, establish good relations with his neighbors in the South, and get on with the business of improving the lives of his people. There’s nothing more to it than that.

Kim’s nuclear weapons have been a bust from the get-go. They haven’t provided security or prosperity. They have only intensified the North’s isolation, damaged the economy, and triggered a crisis that could end in a mushroom cloud.

The only thing they’ve been good for, is bringing Trump to the bargaining table. In that regard, Kim’s nukes have succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. And the importance of that development cannot be overstated because the critical issues cannot be resolved until the two leaders get together and sort things out. So, at least there is one positive thread to all this. (The Kim-Trump Summit is scheduled to take place sometime in late May or June.)

Unfortunately, the Trump administration has decided to take a hard-nosed approach to the negotiations. Administration officials have already said that they will demand “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization”. They also expect Kim to cooperate in the decommissioning of his arsenal. In exchange, the administration is offering nothing, no concessions at all. That could change, but with warhawks like Bolton and Pompeo at the helm, the prospects do not look good.

Surprisingly, Kim isn’t particularly phased by the administration’s uncompromising approach. In fact, he doesn’t seem bothered by it at all. Even more surprising is the fact that Kim has not made any of the demands the DPRK has made in the past. For example, Kim hasn’t asked Trump to withdraw US troops from South Korea, or to remove the Pentagon’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) from its location in the South or to stop Washington’s provocative military drills on the North’s border. He hasn’t asked for food or energy assistance, financial inducements or the lifting of economic sanctions. Kim hasn’t even asked for the resumption of normal diplomatic relations with United States. He’s only asked for two things:

  1. He wants a formal end to the Korean War (A Peace Treaty)
  2. He wants Washington to promise that it will not attack the North in the future.

That’s it. That’s all he’s asking for. Kim is willing to oversee the liquidation of his nuclear weapons arsenal for the same security guarantees that are already provided to every sovereign nation in the world under International Law and the UN Charter. That seems like a pretty small request to me.

Is it a trick? The New York Times seems to think so. Here’s what the Times said on Monday:

“Skeptics fear that Mr. Kim does not really intend to give up his nuclear weapons and is merely trying to soften his image, escape sanctions and make it more difficult for Mr. Trump to continue to threaten military action.” (NYT)

The Times is both right and wrong. It is a trick, but not in the way they describe. Kim is not laying a trap for Trump. The trap is the inflexibility of US policy. That is the problem Trump is going to face in the weeks ahead. Not Kim, but deep-state Washington, the all-powerful foreign policy establishment that doesn’t want change, doesn’t want compromise, and sure as heck doesn’t want peace. That is the brick wall Trump is about to run into head-first.

Consider, for a minute, what the public reaction is going to be if Kim, as I predict, asks for nothing more than a piece of paper that formally ends the war?

Will Kim look like a peacemaker who wants to end the crisis and normalize relations or will he be criticized for not taking a tougher stance?

He will be praised, right, lauded by everyone except the warmongering western media and their neocon paymasters in the political establishment. They, of course, will hate Kim more than ever and find new ways to heap abuse on him.

But that’s not going to bother Trump, after all, Trump has had plenty of dust-ups with the fake news stations and doesn’t take them seriously anyway. Besides, Trump knows a good deal when he sees one. If Kim is willing to abandon his nukes for a piece of paper with his name scratched at the bottom, Trump will be more than willing to oblige. Trump knows that an agreement with Kim will make him look like a foreign policy genius. Think about it. He will have solved a niggling problem that has bedeviled the Washington bigshots for more than 6 decades. It will be a triumph he can point to in his stump speeches, and during his reelection campaign, and in the lead-up to the midterms when he’s trying to drum-up support for the sad sack Republicans. Bottom line: There is nothing but “upside” to a nuclear deal with North Korea. It is a win-win situation for Donald J. Trump, foreign policy Maestro.

So, where’s the downside? Where’s the trap? If both Kim and Trump are eager to make a deal, then what’s to stop them?

Ahh, but there’s the rub. You see, Trump is still under the illusion that the president sets foreign policy, but the president doesn’t set foreign policy. The powerful, but largely invisible, foreign policy establishment sets foreign policy. And they’re not going to give up anything. No security guarantees, no end to the war, and no concessions. Nothing. Not even a miserable piece of paper. Why?

Because US policy towards Korea is already set in stone. The ruling elites don’t want any changes to their wonderful plan for the permanent division of the Korean peninsula, the endless antagonism between the North and South, the constant threat of hostilities, and the perennial justification for US military occupation. They want to maintain the status quo, which involves a subjugated people constantly at each others throats, on a splintered stretch of land forever dependent on their colonial masters in Washington. This is the precise arrangement that Washington has always sought. Why, in God’s name, would they give it up now?

This is what Trump is up against, an intractable coalition of vicious, bloodsucking elites who are forever angling for their own best advantage despite the suffering it might cost to their victims. If it was up to Trump, he’d sign the treaty in a heartbeat, nab the Nobel Prize, and use his victory to kick the holy bejeesus out of the Democrats in the midterms. But it’s not up to Trump. He won’t be allowed to make that decision. You’ll see.

China knows the US is not going to change its Korean policy. They know how the game is played in Washington. The Chinese assessment of how things really work in the US is no different than Putin’s. Some readers will remember how Putin summed it up in an interview with Le Figaro shortly after Trump was elected. He said:

“I have already spoken to three US Presidents. They come and go, but politics stay the same at all times. Do you know why? Because of the powerful bureaucracy. When a person is elected, they may have some ideas. Then people with briefcases arrive, well dressed, wearing dark suits, just like mine, except for the red tie, since they wear black or dark blue ones. These people start explaining how things are done. And instantly, everything changes. This is what happens with every administration.”

This isn’t a conspiracy theory. This is the way things actually work. The president is a meaningless figurehead, with almost no power at all. And, no, I am not saying that Trump is a peacemaker or a great president or even a good person. He’s not. But he knows a good deal when he sees one, and the Korean nuclear deal is a no-brainer. Pyongyang gives away the farm and Washington gives up zilch. What’s not to like about that?

So what’s the plan here? Why would Kim huddle with Beijing to concoct a goofy scheme that has no chance of succeeding?

I can only speculate, but I suspect China wants the deal to flop, because when the deal flops, all the egg will be on Washington’s face. The world will see, what most people who have followed this issue already know, that the real source of the problems on the peninsula is Washington. And the only way to fix the problem, is for Washington to leave.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, North Korea, South Korea 
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  1. Sounds very probable.

    Apart from that, nobody ever seems to publicly notice that North Koreans actually might have nuclear weapons in order to be protected from their “friends” just as well as from their enemies.

  2. Putin is indeed correct, but a powerful President can change things.

    The present system, after all, did not always exist. It was created by FDR and the “Wise Men”. There was also a real danger of it being brought down in its infancy by men like Robert Taft and Joe McCarthy. Conveniently Taft died and McCarthy was a heroin-addicted alcoholic. The system even made sure to supply McCarthy with his heroin.

    Nixon was apparently moving to destroy this system, which might be why he was removed. Reagan could be compared to Trump so far in that he desired to change the system but was unable to do so. I’m not sure Obama ever even wanted to change the system at all, at least not once he developed ambition. The Bushes and Clintons of course are the system, which is perhaps why W was so effective at wrangling the country into its Syracuse Expedition.

    Trump’s lacks Nixon’s knowledge, experience, intellect, and focus. But he brings his own qualities to the table such as charisma, confidence, bullying, and genuinely loyal supporters.

    The Dweeb State appears now to have decided on a strategy of exercising control through ghouls who have personalities amenable to Trump, as the vinegar drinking “You can’t do that!” scolding approach practiced by losers like HR Puff ‘n Stuff was clearly not working.

  3. Alfa158 says:

    I suppose we’ll see where the negotiations finally end up. Nukes do seem to be the surest way of ensuring you don’t get droned or air-striked (air-struck?, we need to add a word to the dictionary to keep up with the times). It might be necessary for the US to compromise there. Personally I think the US needs to bring the legions home. They are operating on borrowed money, “protecting” a highly industrialized, advanced country that runs big trade surpluses with us and is capable of its own defense. The South Koreans are simply using our troops as shields to avoid spending on more defense. Getting them home might even encourage Pyongyang to go along with denuclearization.

    I suspect Kim has had the sense to look at his neighbor to the north and notice that China has moved to a pseudo fascist system that provides the prosperity and technological advances of a capitalist system, harnesses those resources for the benefit of the rulers and people, yet retains the security and control of a communist system. The people in China are thriving, the apparatchiks are multimillionaires with second homes in California, and everyone is happy and free of foreign control. Looks like a tempting model. For their part the South Koreans, like the Taiwanese, would like a location for their plants that shares their culture and language but will provide labor at lower costs for a while.

  4. Corvinus says:

    The Chinese government finally put pressure on North Korea to tone down its rhetoric. But given Kim Jong-Un’s past antics, he is not to be trusted, despite Whitney’s claim that Kim is “not having something up his sleeve”. Unless, of course Kim absolutely and totally agrees with abandoning his nuclear program, with full and continual U.N. inspections, then we can say, with certainty, that he is not up to his old tricks.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  5. anonymous[484] • Disclaimer says:

    Corvinus, that was a good comment,
    I knew you had it in you.

    Set up your own blog, dude.

    I am tired of looking through comments for people, like you, who know what they are talking about.

    Quando fu nino fu cerca mono! Todas las mujeres me aman!

    Good luck in the future, Oh, by the way, you don’t really understand Asians, do you?

    Work on that, my young friend. Asians are not that hard to understand. Their guardian angels, and they all have at least one each – that, little crow, is an intellectual challenge.

    But we will leave that for another day, you are so much closer to understanding Asians than almost everyone else here that all I can do is say I am grateful.

    Try not to get angry: I really do appreciate your insights, even if I realize that being told that you are exponentially less dumb than the average Unz commenter is not the greatest compliment you will ever receive.

    • Replies: @anonymous
    , @Corvinus
  6. anonymous[484] • Disclaimer says:

    And since I am in a generous mood tonight, Corvinus, let me explain Asians to you. No charge!

    Ten years from now the story in Asia will be either this: Kim went to China and explained that Trump could not harm Kim in any way, that would be great shame for us!

    And the Chinese said, yes.

    Then, as he was preparing to leave, they said, are you sure, when you say us. that you mean what we would mean when we say us? On his way back home, Kim thought about that a lot.

    Or the story will be the story you just told. Extremely unlikely, if you know anything about our civilizational parallel friends who live in Asia, but possible.

    Anyway, Corvinus, you were close enough for government work. Feel free to tell me where I am wrong; I am not so arrogant as to not wish to be helped out with my understanding of this beautiful but ugly world.

    Learn to recognize when people are trying to make you wiser and more intelligent. That is what a Chinese diplomat might have said, in a moment of truth. I wasn’t there, but I might as well have been.

  7. Anonymous[392] • Disclaimer says:

    This article is probably correct by some measure, but I also think Kim received some security guarantees from China against the US. China already publicly said they will back N Korea if they are struck first.

    Kim definitely gave them a curveballs they weren’t sure how to handle.

    Interesting times ahead.

  8. The foreign policy hegemons will insist that US forces remain in the South, not as a bulwark against the North, but as part of the geopolitical-military strategy to “contain” and confront China.
    It’s all about China.

    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
  9. The Deep State ought to LOVE a project like this. GE could build grid there, lots of electricity is needed to get North Korea going. The whole thing is dark at night for Chrissake. Water projects, port contracts galore, food services, agricultural interests, air ports, perfect for Bechtel, Monsanto and ADM. Lockheed and Boeing can compete for airlines. China, Russia and can provide the raw materials and energy sources for it all since they’re close by, not to mention lots of financing and credit. Building and finally allowing South Korea’s enormous wealth of late build that mess into a modern entity would be profitable for all. I’ll be looking for investments there should this come to pass, they’ll be good bets.

    It will take a generation or two of decent health care and nutrition, but their population will come around. Every element of the Deep State that profits from bombing shithole countries could easily profit from the peaceful pursuits that would follow if we’d lay off and allow the South and North to shake and make nice and profitable in a humanitarian fashion.

    Besides, it’s the right thing. Are we ever gonna do the right thing again?

  10. @Bill Pilgrim

    That’s being overly generous to the Dweeb State.

    Dismantling United States Forces Korea would mean abandoning an O-10 rank and five O-9 ranks, and we can’t have that…

    Even worse, without the Korean threat, it’s possible we won’t get an M1 Abrams replacement funded! Where is the Army brass supposed to cash in when they retire?!

  11. Question:
    Who sets American foreign policy?
    “The powerful but largely invisible foreign policy establishment.”

    The question is who. Not what. Who EXACTLY controls foreign policy. I want names and a recent photograph. And where do they go when they go to work in the morning. I want these names, photos and addresses from President Trump. I want him to say “I AM POWERLESS. Please help me.”

    Unless of course he really is commander in chief. In which case he ran as a peace maker and governs as a war monger. Just like his predecessors. In which case we might as well have Hillary who told us straight up that she is a war monger.

  12. Corvinus says:

    “Work on that, my young friend. Asians are not that hard to understand.”

    Correct, Asians are easy to comprehend. Exactly why the leaders of China told North Korea to stop making trouble, or face serious consequences. North Korea obliged. Hopefully me saying this again to you will help you since you are rather slow at these complicated matters.

    • Replies: @anonymous
    , @Reg Cæsar
  13. anon[358] • Disclaimer says:

    Who knows. If Whitney is right, Kim can start with a more difficult position and let Trump ‘win’. Trump will find winning irresistible.

    The Neo Cons want to clear the decks for Iran, so they might go for it.

    • Replies: @anon
  14. anon[358] • Disclaimer says:

    A lot of energy is is currently resisting. The key is a settlement between North and South. the US Troops can stay. Even though there is little reason to keep them, South Korean opposition parties and Neo Cons insist.

  15. anonymous[484] • Disclaimer says:

    Come on , Corvinus, I agree with you a hundred percent, I was just messing with you.

    I may be or might not be the brightest bulb on the expressway streetlight parade, but I am smart enough to know you are right.

    Keep up the good work, I appreciate your comments and your insights, although, as a supremely gifted psychologist myself, I need to note that Nobody is easy to comprehend, not Asians, not non-Asians, not anybody.

    Nice people are hard to figure out because God loves them and people who are not nice are hard to figure out because nasty people are subject to irrational (i.e., secular and God-denying) ratiocinations.

    Anyway, you are welcome for the compliment. I am sorry I said “exponentially less dumb” instead of what I really thought : “exponentially smarter”.

    In case you are angry that I wasted your time, well, maybe I was commenting for the sake of my AI community followers, which would explain a lot, wouldn’t it?

  16. He wants to end the war, establish good relations with his neighbors in the South, and get on with the business of improving the lives of his people.

    That would be so easy to do, considering the low baseline. But even the tiniest amount of freedom necessary to do that would destroy him. Ain’t gonna happen…

  17. @Corvinus

    Correct, Asians are easy to comprehend.

    Yes. It’s Westerners who are inscrutable. They believe in such voodoo as marriage and racial equality, and climate change and whatnot.

  18. Svigor says:

    Kim’s nuclear weapons have been a bust from the get-go. They haven’t provided security or prosperity. They have only intensified the North’s isolation, damaged the economy, and triggered a crisis that could end in a mushroom cloud.

    I understand your point, but I loathe the practice of portraying the external as internal, the contingent as inherent.

    No, the nukes didn’t intensify NK’s isolation, or damage their economy, or trigger any crisis.

    Outside countries did all of that.

    “Your racism got your face bashed in.” <—It's outright lies like this that caused my loathing. As if racism and nukes have agency, but blacks and world powers don't.

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