At the Singapore summit, President Trump got played

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President Trump got played.

After all the hoopla and pageantry and Trump braggadocio at the Singapore summit, with Kim Jong Un standing alongside the U.S. president in front of thousands of journalists, the North Korean leader came out the winner.

Kim had already racked up points just by standing alongside the U.S. president as an equal, showered with Trump’s praise and transformed from pariah to international rock star.  In recent weeks he was welcomed to Beijing and Seoul, and invited to Moscow. China and Russia have already started to loosen up sanctions.

All this might have been an acceptable cost for achieving the U.S. goal: to get Kim to commit specifically to shedding his nuclear weapons within a reasonable time frame, in a verifiable fashion.  But, on this, Trump failed big time: The joint statement that emerged from the summit included no such firm commitments, using vague language on denuclearization that is interpreted very differently by the two sides. “It does not meet the minimum requirements in terms of what we expected them to do,” Ambassador Joseph Y. Yun, the former Special U.S. Representative to North Korea, told CNN.

>> READ MORE: Analysis: By Trump’s own yardstick, North Korea pact falls flat

Instead, Trump made a huge concession up front stopping joint U.S. military exercises with South Korea, a key tool for keeping pressure on the North. And he didn’t even inform the Seoul government beforehand, leaving it publicly grasping for information on U.S. intentions.

“I gave up nothing,” the president insisted in a press conference. He was clearly oblivious to the fact that he was playing into North Korea’s longtime game plan: to emerge as an internationally recognized state, recognized by America and the world — without surrendering all of its nukes.

Let’s look at what the president did give up.

In the run-up to the summit, U.S. and Korean negotiators were wrestling over whether North Korea would make a substantial pledge of denuclearization up front, including details of its nuclear program and a timeline for dismantling it.

But, going into the summit, the two sides could not even agree on a common definition of the term  “denuclearization.”

“Our definition of denuclearization is they give up all their fissile material, facilities, nuclear material taken out, irrevocably and verifiably,” says Dr. Jung Pak, top Korea expert at Brookings and former senior CIA Korea analyst.

The joint statement, however, contained only a vague commitment to “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” – terminology favored by Pyongyang and Beijing.  In North Korea’s interpretation, say North Korea experts, this means an end to the U.S. troop presence in South Korea and nuclear umbrella over that country and Japan – without any corresponding specifics on eliminating its own nuclear program.

By using this language – and ending joint exercises – Trump acceded to Kim’s game plan. He went even further, repeating his desire to pull U.S. troops out of Korea (although not immediately) and emphasizing his desire to save money by so doing.  All this before North Korea makes any firm commitment to giving up its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

True, Kim has frozen his nuclear tests and missile tests – for now.  And he has destroyed an already collapsing nuclear test site and promised Trump more on other sites.  But none of this speaks to the onetime American demand that North Korean completely, irrevocably and verifiably destroy its weapons.

Negotiations will now commence, but if the past is history, they could drag on for a very long time and never reach a firm conclusion.  Meanwhile, U.S. leverage on North Korea is declining,  as China and Russia push to loosen sanctions.  A push for a formal peace between North and South Korea will further weaken any future pressure.  And Trump’s eagerness to halt joint military excercises – and remove U.S. troops – undermines U.S. leverage further.

This gives North Korea little reason to swiftly negotiate an end to its weapons program.  After all, the U.S. president has told the world that Kim is “very smart” and “honorable” and “wants to do the right thing.”  Trump even sloughed off questions at the press conference about North Korean forced labor camps where thousands are tortured and murdered, saying such things happen elsewhere.

How embarrassing it would be for Trump to resume insulting the great Korean leader.  Much easier to insult a democratic prime minister like Justin Trudeau.

The irony here is that, contrary to Trump’s exaggerated claims, Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush got much more specific commitments from Pyongyang. In 1992, 1994 and 2005, the North Koreans pledged to eliminate all their nuclear weapons.  They reneged.

When asked why he’d do better, Trump bragged: “This is a much different president.”  Clearly this president believes his smarts will get results from North Korea, where previous presidents met failure.

The good news is that war on the Korean peninsula looks far less likely than a few months ago. But judging from the Singapore summit, it is Kim Jong Un who has mastered the art of dealing with Trump.

By Trudy Rubin/Phillynews

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

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Art of the Dealbreaker: Trump’s Cancellation of the Summit with Kim

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Photo by Matt Brown | CC BY 2.0

Donald Trump writes Kim Jong Un that “based on the tremendous anger and open hostility expressed in your recent statement” he must cancel the planned Singapore summit.
The “recent statement” appears to be one from Choe Son Hui, North Korea’s vice minister of foreign affairs and nuclear negotiator (full text below). It was issued after Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News that North Korea could end up like Libya if it fails to make a nuclear deal with Washington.
This was a very stupid, provocative thing to say. Muammar Gaddafy gave up his small nuke program in 2003 but was overthrown by a NATO campaign in 2011 that destroyed his country and resulted in his brutal murder. The historical lesson is not: give up your nuclear program or weapons or get sodomized by a bayonet as you die (Gadaffy’s fate, which as you know Hillary Clinton found hilarious), but rather, give up your weapons and enjoy some respite from sanctions and normalized relations, etc., but eight years later face fire and fury, all the more vulnerable due to your earlier foolish capitulation.
Pence had declared: “There was some talk about the Libyan model last week, and you know, as the President made clear, this will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong Un doesn’t make a deal.” Asked if this could be interpreted as a threat, he replied, “Well, I think it’s more of a fact.” (This is after the odious National Security Advisor John Bolton had also compared U.S. intentions to those in Libya that resulted in the overthrow and murder of Gaddafi.)
Choe replied: “Vice President Pence has made unbridled and impudent remarks that North Korea might end like Libya, military option for North Korea never came off the table, the US needs complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization, and so on. As a person involved in the US affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the US vice president.”
Trump who calls people all kinds of insulting names all the time finds this unacceptable? Reason to cancel the meeting?
“In view of the remarks of the US high-ranking politicians who have not yet woken up to this stark reality and compare the DPRK to Libya that met a tragic fate, I come to think that they know too little about us. To borrow their words, we can also make the US taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor even imagined up to now. Before making such reckless threatening remarks without knowing exactly who he is facing, Pence should have seriously considered the terrible consequences of his words… Whether the US will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States. In case the US offends against our goodwill and clings to unlawful and outrageous acts, I will put forward a suggestion to our supreme leadership for reconsidering the DPRK-US summit.”
Trump tells Kim, “If you change your mind about this important summit” be in touch. As though Kim was the one who had cancelled and changed his mind. There were some reports (maybe disinformation) about Kim’s concern that a coup might occur while he was out of the country, but other affirming the DPRK’s commitment to the Singapore date. It’s possible there’s been some coordination on postponement and Trump uses the easy excuse of being offended by the Koreans’ typically vituperative language.
Whether this is a temporary setback or the collapse of diplomatic efforts, Trump looks bad in this situation. He seems petulant and hypocritical. Yes the North Korean statement by a high-ranking woman in the Foreign Ministry is defiant, but many Koreans are like Trump in that when attacked rhetorically, they counterattack rhetorically. In this case the insulting language was intended to echo Trump’s language vis-a-vis the DPRK.
“To borrow their words, we can also make the US taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor even imagined up to now.” But this as she notes merely echoes Trump’s rhetoric at the United Nations when he warned that the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea if it didn’t denuclearize.
I sense this decision will meet with general disappointment throughout the world, and Trump not Kim will be blamed. People associate Trump himself with anger and hostility and will wonder why he’s made a big deal out of a Foreign Ministry statement (quite appropriately!) protesting the repeated references by top U.S. officials to the Libyan model. It will join the Paris Accord pullout, Iran deal pullout, and move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, as examples of Trump’s irrationality and indications that the U.S. has lost its way in the world.
* * * * *
Full text of Choi Son Hui’s statement:
At an interview at Fox News on May 21, US Vice-President Pence made unbridled and impudent remarks that North Korea might end like Libya, military option for North Korea never came off the table, the US needs complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation, and so on.
As a person involved in the US affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the US vice-president.
If he is vice-president of “single superpower” as is in name, it will be proper for him to know even a little bit about the current state of global affairs and to sense to a certain degree the trends in dialogue and the climate of détente.
We could surmise more than enough what a political dummy he is as he is trying to compare the DPRK, a nuclear weapon state, to Libya that had simply installed a few items of equipment and fiddled around with them.
Soon after the White House National Security Adviser Bolton made the reckless remarks, Vice-President Pence has again spat out nonsense that the DPRK would follow in Libya’s footstep.
It is to be underlined, however, that in order not to follow in Libya’s footstep, we paid a heavy price to build up our powerful and reliable strength that can defend ourselves and safeguard peace and security in the Korean peninsula and the region.
In view of the remarks of the US high-ranking politicians who have not yet woken up to this stark reality and compare the DPRK to Libya that met a tragic fate, I come to think that they know too little about us.
To borrow their words, we can also make the US taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor even imagined up to now.
Before making such reckless threatening remarks without knowing exactly who he is facing, Pence should have seriously considered the terrible consequences of his words.
It is the US who has asked for dialogue, but now it is misleading the public opinion as if we have invited them to sit with us.
I only wonder what is the ulterior motive behind its move and what is it the US has calculated to gain from that.
We will neither beg the US for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us.
Whether the US will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States.
In case the US offends against our goodwill and clings to unlawful and outrageous acts, I will put forward a suggestion to our supreme leadership for reconsidering the DPRK-US summit.

by Gary Leupp/counterpunch

Posted by The NON-Conformist

North Korea Threatens to Cancel U.S. Summit

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SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea on Wednesday canceled a high-level meeting with South Korea and threatened to scrap a historic summit next month between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over military exercises between Seoul and Washington that Pyongyang has long claimed are invasion rehearsals.

The surprise declaration, which came in a pre-dawn dispatch in North Korea’s state media, appears to cool what had been an unusual flurry of outreach from a country that last year conducted a provocative series of weapons tests that had many fearing the region was on the edge of war. It’s still unclear, however, whether the North intends to scuttle all diplomacy or merely wants to gain leverage ahead of the planned June 12 talks between Kim and Trump.

The statement was released hours before the two Koreas were to meet at a border village to discuss setting up talks aimed at reducing military tension along the world’s most heavily armed border and restarting reunions between families separated by the Korean War.

The North’s Korean Central News Agency called the two-week-long Max Thunder drills, which began Monday and reportedly include about 100 aircraft, an “intended military provocation” and an “apparent challenge” to an April summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, when the rival leaders met on their border and agreed to reduce animosity and set up more high-level exchanges.

“The United States must carefully contemplate the fate of the planned North Korea-U.S. summit amid the provocative military ruckus that it’s causing with South Korean authorities,” the North said Wednesday. “We’ll keenly monitor how the United States and South Korean authorities will react.”
Annual military drills between Washington and Seoul have long been a major source of contention between the Koreas, and analysts have wondered whether their continuation would hurt the detente that, since an outreach by Kim in January, has replaced the insults and threats of war. Earlier — and much larger — springtime drills, which Washington and Seoul toned down, went off without the North’s typically fiery condemnation or accompanying weapons tests.
In Washington, the U.S. State Department emphasized that Kim had previously indicated he understood the need and purpose of the U.S. continuing its long-planned joint exercises with South Korea. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. had not heard anything directly from Pyongyang or Seoul that would change that.
“We will continue to go ahead and plan the meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un,” Nauert said.
Army Col. Rob Manning said this current exercise is part of the U.S. and South Korea’s “routine, annual training program to maintain a foundation of military readiness.” Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said the purpose of Max Thunder and exercise Foal Eagle — another training event — is to enhance the two nations’ abilities to operate together to defend South Korea.

“The defensive nature of these combined exercises has been clear for many decades and has not changed,” said Manning.
Washington and Seoul delayed an earlier round of drills in the spring because of the North-South diplomacy surrounding February’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in the South, which saw Kim send his sister to the opening ceremonies.
Kim told visiting South Korean officials in March that he “understands” the drills would take place and expressed hope that they’ll be modified once the situation on the peninsula stabilizes, according to the South Korean government.
South Korea didn’t immediately make any official response to the North’s announcement.
The North’s statement Wednesday comes amid a flurry surprising moves from the North in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, South Korea’s military said North Korea was moving ahead with plans to close its nuclear test site next week, an assessment backed by U.S. researchers who say satellite images show the North has begun dismantling facilities at the site.
The site’s closure was set to come before the Kim-Trump summit, which had been shaping up as a crucial moment in the decades-long push to resolve the nuclear standoff with the North, which is closing in on the ability to viably target the mainland United States with its long-range nuclear-armed missiles.

By Lolita Baldor and Josh Lederman/truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Ted Cruz warns of “Watergate-style blowout” in 2018

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Wealthy conservative donors and influential Republican lawmakers say they increasingly fear a historic backlash at the ballot box next year if the GOP effort to pass a sweeping rewrite of the nation’s tax laws falls short in the coming months.

Image: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Lincoln Center

At a two-day midtown Manhattan summit of the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers’ powerful donor network, GOP patrons, senators and strategists spoke in cataclysmic terms about the price they expect to pay in the midterm elections if their tax reform effort does not win passage.

They voiced concerns a demoralized Republican base would stay home, financiers would stop writing campaign donation checks to incumbents and the congressional majorities the party has built in the House and Senate could evaporate overnight.

To head that off, the same Republicans said they are waging an intense, multi-front effort in and outside of Congress and the White House to shepherd the endeavor to the finish line.

Koch network officials said they have invested more than $10 million this year in advocating for the GOP tax plan.

Art Pope, a major conservative donor from North Carolina, put it this way: “When you have lack of success, that may depress voter turnout for Republicans, that may depress donations for Republicans and conservatives.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) warned that Republicans could face a “Watergate-level blowout” in the midterm elections if they don’t make major legislative strides on taxes and health care, invoking the political scandal that brought down Richard Nixon’s presidency and set back the GOP considerably in subsequent elections.

“If tax reform crashes and burns, if [on] Obamacare, nothing happens, we could face a bloodbath,” said Cruz, who spoke in a moderated discussion.

More from Apple news via WaPo

Posted by Libergirl

 

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