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​Trump and Kim Jong-un: Stop Tweeting & Carry a Big Club

With the news of Mike Pompeo - still CIA Director, not yet Secretary of State and perhaps condemned to a purgatory of several months or longer by Democratic Senators grandstanding on everything from Pompeo’s view of gay sex to his positions on waterboarding - having visited with Kim Jong-Un now out in the open, we have to be grateful that North Korea is not a major energy producer.

Like Iran.

The danger of being sucked into a negotiating process that ends up with an outcome resembling the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear deal) is perhaps less of a risk than it was in Iran's case. But it is still an important trap that Trump's administration must both carefully and forcefully avoid. The good news is that this is and should remain a negotiating process that America owns.

It is worth remembering that negotiations with Iran regarding its nuclear capabilities began initially as a European enterprise with the so-called EU-3 comprised of France, Germany and the UK back around 2003. Then it expanded in 2006 like a replica of a UN committee, adding China, Russia, and finally a reluctant USA to form the P5 + 1. By the time Obama won the next election, the Europeans had a fellow internationalist and apologist and a few years later detailed negotiations were underway.

The result has been to lift sanctions, give back billions to Iran with little assurance or reliable verification that they are not advancing with their nuclear weapons program.

Kim jong-un would love to repeat the Iranian's clear success at overcoming sanctions with little real or lasting consequences for non-compliance. The DPRK has managed to stave off hostilities and extort subsidies from America in the past. So this is the real trap that Trump and Pompeo face. As Dan Blumenthal in a piece at AEI's site concludes:

However, if the North succeeds in drawing out the talks with promises of future denuclearization, engaging Washington in endless fights about verification or demands for concessions without any immediate actions in return, Washington will have lost important time that otherwise could have been spent strengthening the coalition of pressure.

His point being that the tactics that the Trump administration has used to get Kim to the negotiating table (and apparently to allow the South Koreans to report that options like de-nuclearization are on the list of possible items to be negotiated) should not be surrendered now that the immediate goal of a meeting seems to have been gained.

This means making sure the pressure on North Korea, and by implication on their sponsor, China, must be maintained. As Blumenthal says:

This is all to say that direct talks can be part of a strategy of coercive diplomacy. If Kim balks at immediate denuclearization, the U.S. can increase the pressure even more until he is ready. Trump and his team are tough-minded pragmatists capable of hard-headed diplomacy and decisive action. Indeed, the U.S. team should be ready with a set of new initiatives to pressure both China and North Korea, should the summit not bear fruit.

But Team USA is going up against a regime that has been on a roll in outwitting the United States across many administrations, and that is supported by a China that wants the United States out of Asia. The key to success is to push for immediate denuclearization while preparing for a long-term parallel strategy of coercive diplomacy against North Korea and continued pushback against Chinese moves to break U.S. alliances in Asia.

Alliances in Asia with Japan and Taiwan, and not just with South Korea. Because China would like nothing more than for America to retreat from East Asia, leaving it as the undisputed hegemon dominating Japan and the rest of the region's countries. Maybe a little threatening talk about helping Japan re-arm would help do the trick. Because it's not just Kim jong-un that has to take Trump's threats seriously. It's Xi as well.

It could very well be that Trump finds himself withdrawing from the JCPA while at the same time entering negotiations with North Korea. One fears that he cannot possibly sustain such a balance, but if he can, both the ayatollahs and the Kims of this world will be on notice. And that's not a bad deal. Stop tweeting and carry a big club - like Teddy would have.

Posted by AllardK at April 20, 2018 11:24 PM
Comment #426433

“China would like nothing more than for America to retreat from East Asia,”

That’s the whole effing point of what’s happening with Dumpty. They think he’s stupid or senile enough to abandon South Korea, withdraw from Asia completely, and abandon all alliances, while China sends out colonists around the world. Our allies think the same thing. China will probably have bases in the Caribbean while we are still bombing empty buildings in the middle east with our glorious military. The dotard can’t be removed from office soon enough. I’m surprised the generals haven’t done it yet.

Posted by: ohrealy at April 21, 2018 11:18 AM
Comment #426443

President Trump was smart enough to win the office from the challenger; the smartest, most political savvy, most dishonest and cunning adversary Hillary Clintonista.

President Trump was smart enough to force China to back down in the tariff threats.

President Trump was smart enough to withdraw from the Paris Climate accords, cause illegals border crossings to diminish, reduce unneeded government regulation, reduce corporate and individual taxes, and greatly influence the rising GDP of this nation.

Liberals bleating about Trump being stupid is music to our ears as they continue to underestimate what this leader can accomplish.

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Posted by: Rehana Malik at April 30, 2018 2:18 AM
Comment #427030

After decades of closing the gate to the whole world, NK is getting more friendly, makes me really surprise and wonder what in his mind now. Will the two countries be peaceful from now on.

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