Trump peace talks with Kim Jong-un? O, the horror!
Immediately upon the announcement that as a result of the diplomatic efforts by South Korean leader Moon Jae-in having sent a delegation to the White House with the message that Kim Jong-un was willing to talk to Trump and his people, and Trump’s agreeing, the pundit class had gone full-tilt flip city/duck panic. Now South Korea’s national security advisor had also said that Kim would halt all nuclear or missile tests, and would effectively turn a blind eye to the provocative ongoing joint US/Rep. of Korea military exercises since he’d like to meet with the US Twitterer-in-Chief as soon as possible.
I’d begun collecting reactionary quotes so as to be able to portray what I’d seen of the extreme warnings especially by the librul class, and when I’d seen Part I of two interviews on TRNN, I’d been waiting for Part II with great anticipation, due to the promise at the end of this earlier one.
‘Can Trump, Kim, and Moon Make Peace in Korea? (1/2) After months of bellicose rhetoric and fears of nuclear war, President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have agreed to historic face-to-face talks. Independent journalist Tim Shorrock and Christine Ahn of Women Cross DMZ discuss the prospects for an agreement and the overlooked role of South Korea in getting both sides to the table, TRNN, March 9, 2018
Both the video and the transcript are there, both Shorrock and Ahn provide historical analysis, and explain the recent evolution of the planned meeting, including what Shorrock’s interview with Moon Jae-in ten months before he took office as the President had signaled to him. Do watch or read if you can, but I’d like instead to bring Aaron Maté’s promise at the end of Part I:
AARON MATÉ: We’re going to talk more about that in part two of this discussion, where we’re also going to get into something Christine mentioned, which is the liberal reaction to this news of a summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un.
Now Part II’s been up for two days, but the transcript was only provided this morning.
‘Why the Panic over Korea Peace Talks? (2/2); As President Trump and Kim Jong-Un agree to historic talks, centrist voices are expressing alarm based on a self-serving and false reading of history, says Timothy Shorrock (the transcript)
(and yes, some commenters laughed at him having labeled some of the ‘loyal opposition’ “centrists”…
I’l bring a few of the pithiest parts of the transcript.
AARON MATÉ: It’s The Real News. I’m Aaron Maté. President Trump and Kim Jong-un have announced historic talks that could lead to denuclearizing North Korea but rather than embrace the move, some of President Trump’s centrist critics are voicing alarm. Here, for example, is Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.
RACHEL MADDOW: Why has that never happened in all the decades North Korea has existed as a nation? Why hasn’t any other president ever done, should I take that to mean that this might be a particularly risky or even an unwise move? I think that’s how most presidents would approach the idea of a personal presidential meeting with the North Korean dictator. I think a lot of people probably suspect tonight that those are not the kinds of questions that this president asked himself before agreeing to this meeting. But this is the president we have and he said yes to North Korea.
AARON MATÉ: Earlier today, on the same network, Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe spoke to MSNBC chief foreign correspondent Andrea Mitchell.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Andrea, let’s talk really briefly for people who may not be aware of it, but talk about how the North Koreans have made fools of every American president since Bill Clinton.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, even though he then called them the evil empire and Barack Obama, all three fooled. A former president, Jimmy Carter, going in 1994 and getting fooled and misled by Kim Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong-il. I was there during negotiations with, previously, the highest ranking American to ever meet with a North Korean leader was Madeleine Albright. In October of 2000, we went and they were going to normalize relations. And then George W. Bush hit the pause button on that when he was elected in March of 2001. They’ve all been…
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Even that… Even that…
ANDREA MITCHELL: They’ve cheated in every instance.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: And even the…
[do remember that Miz Andrea’s darling hubbie is…Alan Greenspan.] Now the debunking begins:
AARON MATÉ: In part one of this conversation, we were joined by Christine Ahn of Women Cross DMZ, but she had to leave us. We are still joined by Tim Shorrock, independent journalist who covers US-Korea relations for The Nation and the Korea Center for Investigative Reporting. Welcome Tim. If you could address that brief history that Andrea Mitchell just outlined where she talks about a history of North Korea fooling the US. Is that accurate?
TIM SHORROCK: No, it’s not accurate at all. The media, including NBC, is pumping lies out one after the other about the US and North Korea, this history of diplomacy that’s happened. You notice the last thing she said, she talked about the Clinton agreement and then she said Bush kind of put the kibosh on that or, didn’t get her exact words. Yeah, there was an agreement under which North Korea froze its nuclear processing for 12 years.
Then at the end of the ’90s, under the Clinton administration, they came very close to that trip she was talking about, when she went to Pyongyang with Madeleine Albright. Clinton came extremely close to an agreement. They had an agreement in principle for North Korea to end all its missile tests and to normalize relations with the United States. In other words, North Korea, at that time, was willing to trade their weapon program and their missile program for a better relationship with the United States.
And then when Bush came to power, he rejected the idea of negotiating with Kim Jong-Il, who was then the leader of North Korea, and in 2002, they torpedoed the agreement between the US and North Korea under which the program was frozen. They torpedoed it by telling North Korea, saying that, “You have started a uranium program,” which the North Koreans denied but they said they had a right to one. The US did refuse to negotiate about it and just said, “Okay, the agreement’s over because you’re on a uranium track.” And that was the end of that. Within a couple years, North Korea, after that, when the Bush administration pulled the rug out from under the agreement, North Korea kicked out the IAEA inspectors that were in there and proceeded to build its nuclear capability. By 2006, they had exploded their first atomic bomb.
So, every day you hear in the media, on NBC and CNN, they’ll say, “Oh, then North Korea broke its agreements the next day,” and so on so forth. There’s no careful look at the role that the US played. I mean, the Republicans torpedoed the agreement. They criticized, they criticized the agreement when it was passed. They accused Clinton of Neville Chamberlain-type of action with North Korea and caving into North Korean demands and so forth. And the North Koreans, after a while, even while the agreement was in place, they felt the US was not meeting its terms. The US has a pretty bad history here, too, and the media just completely rejects this idea of even looking at the history.
AARON MATÉ: Right.
TIM SHORROCK: They just pump out the mistruths one after the other.
Then Shorrock tells more history involving the conservative presidents of South Korea, and that
“When Obama came in, he endorsed the hard line from Lee Myung-bak and the hard line continued through the next president, Park Geun-hye.
And so, when you have these conservative presidents, it makes the situation worse, which is why the role of Moon Jae-in has been so important here.
AARON MATÉ: But Tim, speaking of Obama, drawing on your formula there about what happens under progressive or conservative presidents in South Korea, is it fair to say that under a liberal president like Obama, things also pretty much go nowhere? Because Obama did not put much diplomatic force behind reaching a settlement with North Korea. His doctrine was one of strategic patience, which critics say was basically a euphemism for doing nothing. And if that’s true, I wonder does that maybe explain some of the liberal angst we’re seeing right now over Trump’s decision to engage in a direct meeting with Kim Jong-un?
TIM SHORROCK: I think that’s part of it. I mean, these people that love Obama never took a careful look at what he did with Korea. Obama said when he was running that he would be willing to meet the leader of North Korea but he focused all his attention on Iran. When it came to North Korea, as I said, he sided with the South Korean conservatives, and also conservatives regained power in Japan, as well. Also, you have to remember that under Obama, when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, they began this process of building up US forces in the Pacific. They call it the Asia pivot, Pacific pivot. So, this was kind of aimed at China also, and circling China and building up US military forces in Asia. So, peace with North Korea or the negotiations with North Korea kind of went against that whole policy of the US military buildup in Asia which continued through the Obama administration.
Obama never once got involved in direct negotiations with North Korea, even though delegates came, people came from the United States, former officials that meet with North Korea now and then in these track two negotiations that have been going on throughout this time. They came back in 2010, 2011 with North Korean offers to have a peace agreement and get rid of all their plutonium and send it to a third country, made offers like that to Obama that he never took them up on. So, I guess, they don’t want to take any criticism of Obama’s foreign policy.
AARON MATÉ: That’s a critical point there, I think, about Obama and US forces in South Korea and the role of China in that because if you’re committed to confronting China, it’s a lot easier to justify keeping 30,000 or so US troops in South Korea, if you’re able to claim that you have to counter this North Korean enemy that stands in the middle of South Korea and China.
Let me finally ask you, Tim, there’s some speculation among liberal critics that all this was done by Trump to deflect away from the scandal engulfing him around this former mistress of his, this woman with whom he had an affair, Stormy Daniels. But also, the other thing that puzzles me about the discourse is that there seemed, it’s taken to be odd that North Korea wants to be treated as equals with the US. Let me read to you from Nick Kristof, the liberal columnist for the New York Times. He writes today, “What North Korean leaders have craved for many years is international respect and credibility. They want to be treated as equals by the Americans, so a scene of Trump and Kim standing side by side would constitute a triumph for Pyongyang.”
This to me, reflects sort of a broader trend that it’s somehow seen as untoward or strange that North Koreans want to be treated as equals with the US. I’m wondering are we supposed to not see them as equals? Are they lesser than we are?
TIM SHORROCK: Well, that’s how they want you to see them, yes. They’re an evil regime. They should be eliminated, basically. That’s the line. This is, yeah, Nick Kristof and these other liberals wringing their hands about this. A country that wants to protect its sovereignty and stand up with deterrence, a deterrent system like nuclear weapons to protect its own sovereignty is something that seems to be a great affront to these liberals when its North Korea. And I think these are all excuses just to avoid the fact that, if you want to have a settlement of this crisis that so worries people, then you have to have direct negotiations with North Korea. That’s the only way to do it.
This is a conflict between the United States and North Korea. They have made that clear. North Korea has made this very clear. Their weapons are aimed at the US because they feel the US has aimed its weapons at them for 60 years and they want to end this state of hostility. That’s what North Korea is trying to do and that’s what, I think, Moon Jae-in has listened to. And they’ve made some, I think some very major concessions to get here.
AARON MATÉ: Tim, let me ask you quickly on this point about Korean agency. Who knows what’s going on President Trump’s mind. As I said, there’s speculation about whether or not it was motivated by a need to deflect from the Stormy Daniels controversy. Who knows with him?
TIM SHORROCK: Right.
AARON MATÉ: But in terms of what otherwise may have motivated him to make this decision? What do you think that was and did, actually, South Korea’s diplomacy that you have been outlining and Christine Ahn, as well, did in part one of this conversation, did that sort of box him in to force him to make a move?
TIM SHORROCK: In a way, it really did. There was a point last summer where there was a report on NBC News that greatly concerned the South Korean government and greatly concerned Moon Jae-in, which was the US had plans to launch a unilateral attack from the air by B1B bombers flying in international airspace that could destroy nuclear sites and missile sites in a way that wouldn’t require the South Koreans to be involved. When Moon Jae-in heard about that, he immediately had his national security advisor call McMaster and call the White House and say, “Don’t you dare do an attack on North Korea without talking to us and without our involvement.”
There was talks during the Olympics and then Moon Jae-in’s government sent these two national security advisors, including the head of intelligence to North Korea. They had long talks with Kim Jong-un, unprecedented talks there. Then they came back and Moon Jae-in wanted these people to come to tell the United States what had happened and fill them in on what North Korea had offered. That was the point of their mission to the White House yesterday. When, I guess, when Trump was briefed about it, he urged the South Koreans to make the announcement. And that’s what happened.
I think it was kind of symbolic that the announcement was made solely by the South Koreans. I was glad to see that there wasn’t Trump standing next to them or McMaster. I think probably McMaster, who has been pushing for a war, his national security advisor, probably didn’t even want to be part of this process. I think it’s really, it just happened to coincide with these stories about his scandals. But I think, for Trump, a wag the dog scenario would be much more likely with a war. War is what brings a country together, right and lets you forget domestic issues and domestic crises. But embarking on a peace process with North Korea doesn’t really make you popular here. I don’t really buy this. I just think it’s a silly way for people to look at this and discount the South Korean role.
AARON MATÉ: It’s amazing, our capacity here in the West to deny other parts of the world their agency. We’ll leave there. Tim Shorrock, independent journalist covers US-Korea relations for The Nation and the Korea Center for Investigative Reporting. Tim, thank you.
‘Who’s Afraid of Talking With Kim Jong Un?’, Jonathan Marshal, March 10, 2018, consortiumnews.com
“Three months ago, I quoted approvingly Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to supporters in Atlanta that he would “absolutely” speak to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un even if there were only a “10 percent or a 20 percent chance that I can talk him out of those damn nukes.”
“What the hell is wrong with speaking?” the candidate said. “We should be eating a hamburger on a conference table.”
… all manner of naysayers are warning of potentially dire consequences. A few of their points have merit, but none outweigh the likely consequences of doing nothing to stop an impending war.”
[Enter the naysayers]:
“By some assessments, this is really a victory for Kim, who for years has sought proof of his status and North Korea’s power by dangling the offer of leader-to-leader talks with the United States,” writes Karen DeYoung, senior national security correspondent for the Washington Post.
And liberal New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, while claiming that he is “all for negotiations,” focuses on his “fear” that Trump “has given North Korea what it has long craved: the respect and legitimacy that comes from the North Korean leader standing as an equal beside the American president.”
“President Trump’s infamous penchant for going off script and his admiration of authoritarian types could weaken our negotiating position,” declared Suzanne DiMaggio of the Washington-based New America Foundation, who helped arrange backdoor diplomatic contacts between the two countries last year.
Zack Beauchamp, a news analyst for Vox.com, warns that Trump is “very easy to manipulate” and “easily swayed by flattery,” weaknesses that make it “easy to imagine the North Koreans tricking Trump into a deal that, in the long term, helps their strategic position while hurting America’s.”
Not to be outdone, senior White House and national security reporters for CNN caution, “there’s a real chance Trump could be walking into a massive trap.”
“If Trump goes . . . and expects to announce a denuclearized North Korea, he will leave disappointed and maybe angry enough to believe that talks are useless and only military options are left,’ says Vipin Narang, associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”
(Marshall thought that was a legitimate concern.)
From Fortune.com, March 9, 2018
“Speaking at the SXSW Conference here on Friday afternoon, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) said that while the meeting with the dictator is a “step forward” in diplomatic relations with North Korea, he is wary that the president’s announcement is a publicity stunt. “I don’t want to just see a TV show,” Sanders said of the upcoming meeting—which, if it happens, would be historic.
For his part, Sanders, a presidential contender in the 2016 election, said that he is “very worried about North Korea’s nuclear capability” and seemed skeptical that Trump is taking diplomacy seriously.
“We don’t even have an ambassador to South Korea,” said Sanders, likely referring to the fact that the nomination of Victor Cha, Trump’s original pick, was rescinded last month after Cha expressed opposition to the administration’s proposal for a military strike. “Trump is dismembering the State Department.”
[way to split the baby, Solomon]
Via RT:‘‘It’s not a theater’: Opinions split on whether Trump has skills to pull off a deal with Kim’, March 11, 2018
“After the historic news of imminent Trump-Kim talks, some in the US are casting doubts that the president, with his reality TV skills, is able to pull off diplomacy talks, while Trump’s team say they won’t turn into “theater.”
“We have to realize there’s nothing more complex than nuclear negotiations,” the former deputy national security adviser to President Barack Obama, Ben Rhodes, said. “There’s no place in the world more volatile than the Korean peninsula. You cannot just approach this like a reality show. This has to be something where you bring in the experts, you invest in the same type of capabilities in our government that we’ve seen this administration turn their back on: Science and diplomacy.”
“The meeting with the US President would already be a “prize” for North Korea’s leadership, Democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren said on “Meet the Press,” urging the Trump’s administration to roll out preconditions for the meeting.
“Before they get that kind of prize, we should insist that they make some real changes, verifiable changes to their programs,” Warren said.
While Senator Warren approved of Trump’s decision to “move to diplomacy,” she raised concerns over State Department’s and Trump’s personal ability to negotiate, claiming that the North Koreans might trick them.
“I am very worried that he is going to go into these negotiations and [may] be taken advantage of,” Warren said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The White House, depending on who’s writing the story, may be signaling that now there will be further preconditions, perhaps under pressure from his R neo-com homies like Lindsey ‘if you play Trump we’ll end you and your regime‘ Graham and John McCrankypants, so stay tuned. The notion that this planned meeting will be by way of a limited hangout, and that Kim Jong-un doesn’t want to play Herr Trump’s way immediately and fully, it will give Herr T the chance to yell “You’re fired!” and rain down all that ‘fire and fury’ down on North Korea.
Example: Tim Shorrock just tweeted this from Yonhap News Agency:
“Trump, in a surprise move, accepted the invitation Thursday. A day later, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called for “concrete actions” from the North, which led to interpretations the U.S. was attaching new preconditions to the summit.”
“If you want to talk to Kim Jong Un about his nuclear weapons you need experienced diplomats,” [Hillary] Clinton was quoted as telling Dutch tabloid Algemeen Dagblad in an interview published Saturday.
“These are people familiar with the dossiers and who know the North Koreans and their language,” Trump’s presidential rival said in an interview conducted in Amsterdam and published in Dutch.
The former secretary of state said however that the US State Department was “being eroded” and that experienced diplomats on the North Korean issue were in short supply, with many having left.
“You cannot have diplomacy without diplomats,” she said, adding “the danger is not being recognised by the Trump government.”, via newsmax.com
[Foggy Bottom Rules]
For more in-depth history from Konstantin Asmolov, PhD in History, Leading Research Fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook: ‘Summits Between North and South Korea – Past and Present’, March 8, 2018
(cross-posted from Café Babylon)