And Reality Rears its Head in Korea

It was never going to be as easy as the administration thought.

Via the NYT:  North Korea Threatens to Call Off Summit Meeting With Trump

North Korea threw President Trump’s planned summit meeting with its leader, Kim Jong-un, into doubt on Wednesday, threatening to call off the landmark encounter if the United States insisted on “unilateral nuclear abandonment.”

The statement, made by the North’s disarmament negotiator, came hours after state media warned that the summit meeting might be canceled to protest a joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea that began this week.

The warnings caught Trump administration officials off guard and set off an internal debate over whether Mr. Kim was merely posturing in advance of the meeting in Singapore next month or was erecting a serious new hurdle.

If this really did catch the administration off guard, then that just underscores their amateurism on this topic.

As I noted a couple of weeks ago (On Denuclearization and North Korea), what Trump means by “denuclearization” (and what a lot of casual observers seem to think it means) is not what Kim means.

In a statement Wednesday, Kim Kye-kwan, a vice foreign minister, rejected the administration’s demand that it quickly dismantle its nuclear program as Libya did 15 years ago, singling out John Bolton, Mr. Trump’s new national security adviser, for condemnation.

“If the United States is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the D.P.R.K.-U.S. summit,” the statement said, using the abbreviation for the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Mr. Kim said his country would never follow the path of Libya and Iraq, which he said met a “miserable fate” at the hands of “big powers.”

On the Libya count, I mentioned that in my post over the weekend:  Return to the Axis of Evil: The Legend of Curly’s Gold.

It seems likely that the meeting will still happen (both Kim and Trump want the meeting for the sake of the meeting), but this does underscore that peace in our time on the peninsula is not as easy to achieve as the administration and its boosters seem to think.

FILED UNDER: Asia, US Politics, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. EddieInCA says:

    Anyone who has studied ANY Korean/US History could see this coming.

    Trump is making the USA weaker daily, and is being played by world leaders – repeatedly.

    Shocking, I know.




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  2. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Waiting for Bunge to come by and explain that this is part of Dennison’s 10-D chess strategy.
    In the meantime…
    Dennison being played by Kim might just embarrass the thin-skinned orange blob enough that he’ll pop off a couple nukes.
    But more likely…
    Dennison will be played into making some kind of deal, just to make a deal. It won’t do anything like he has claimed he would accomplish…easily. It won’t denuclearize N. Korea. It won’t be even close to as effective as the Iran deal he just pulled out of.
    Ex CIA Chief, Brennan:

    “This turn of events is unsurprising, since Donald Trump seems enamored with a ‘fire-aim-ready’ policy-making process that is fraught with pitfalls as well as potential disasters. Not sure when, if ever, Mr. Trump will realize that he is not the smartest man or even the best negotiator in the world — indeed, far from it.”

    Speaking of pulling out of the Iran deal…Deadpool:

    “The administration is still dealing with the fallout from Trump announcing the US will be pulling out of the Iran deal. It’s Trump’s biggest pulling-out blunder since Eric.”




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  3. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    “It’s Trump’s biggest pulling-out blunder since Eric.”

    God, I wish I’d said that. Beautiful.




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  4. Kathy says:

    There’s too little clear information to tell. It may be Lucy pulling the football, as usual, or it may be the pre-summit talks are not being handled well.

    (Seismic alert went off while I was posting. Slight tremor, it seems).

    Given Trump’s record for hiring the “best” bootlickers, I’d put my money on the second option. But let’s not forget Kim is an awful pile of cruelty and low self-esteem in vaguely human form.




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  5. grumpy realist says:

    Next step as we all expected.

    Cadet BoneSpurs really is stupid, isn’t he?




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  6. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    It’s mindboggling that Trump actually believed that Kim would surrender his nukes. Well, there goes that Nobel Peace Prize.




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  7. michael reynolds says:

    I suspect this is a bully holding a toy just out of reach of his little brother. Kim wants to see if Trump will jump to grab it.




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  8. MBunge says:

    So, how long would I have to not post here for some of you guys to quit talking about me? Have I scarred you THAT badly.

    I won’t be surprised if this North Korea thing goes south but it’s pretty ridiculous for people who were flatly proven wrong in their predictions of disaster pretending they’ve somehow been validated if Trump winds up having as little success with North Korea as, you know, EVERY OTHER PRESIDENT FOR THE LAST 60 YEARS.

    Mike




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  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Kim wants to see if Trump will jump to grab it.

    But Dennison already grabbed it. Kim held out denuclearization and Donnie jumped at it, giving Kim exactly what he wanted, a meeting with the POTUS and instant credibility. But he was never really going to give up his nukes…that’s the only thing that got him to the table. Already Dennison is moon-walking back the expectations…with Pompeo saying the goal is to get rid of the ability to hit the US.

    Look, we’ll have to see how the negotiations proceed, but make no mistake about it: America’s interest here is preventing the risk that North Korea will launch a nuclear weapon into [Los Angeles] or Denver or into the very place we’re sitting here this morning, Chris. That’s our objective, that’s the end state the president has laid out, and that’s the mission that he sent me on this past week to put us on the trajectory to go achieve that.




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  10. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @MBunge:

    people who were flatly proven wrong in their predictions of disaster

    That makes zero sense. Kim still has nukes, so the potential for disaster still exists.
    And by the way…the blood of those 50 or so Palestinians is on your hands for supporting Dennison.




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  11. michael reynolds says:

    @MBunge:

    So, how long would I have to not post here for some of you guys to quit talking about me? Have I scarred you THAT badly.

    Awww, now you’re making me sad for you. Dude. We like having someone to laugh at. You’re the Rickety Cricket of OTB.




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  12. Guarneri says:

    That’s funny, I don’t recall the Administration saying it would be easy.




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  13. Franklin says:

    @Kathy:

    (Seismic alert went off while I was posting. Slight tremor, it seems).

    Not in Hawaii, are you?




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  14. TM01 says:

    Libya: How Obama completely fscked US negotiations and foreign policy for the foreseeable future.

    But sure, Trump makes the US weaker and is destroying our Word.

    fire-aim-ready. From the guy who supported CIA torture. OK.




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  15. Kylopod says:

    @MBunge:

    So, how long would I have to not post here for some of you guys to quit talking about me? Have I scarred you THAT badly.

    Typical troll logic: “The fact that you react negatively to me proves I got under your skin, which is a legitimate accomplishment worth boasting about!”

    people who were flatly proven wrong in their predictions of disaster

    First of all, there are (by my calculation) still 884 days left to Trump’s term. When he leaves office, that’s when we can start talking about predictions about what would or wouldn’t have happened with him in the White House.

    Second, while most sane people have suggested that Trump’s presidency poses a serious danger of provoking a catastrophe in NK (heck, I personally know a Trump supporter who feels that way), nobody–and I repeat nobody–has ever claimed such a catastrophe was inevitable.

    You are, of course, free to prove that last statement wrong and show me quotes from the OTB archives of anyone here arguing that if Trump became president there would inevitably (not probably, not maybe, but inevitably) be disaster in NK.

    Of course we both know you won’t do that. Like usual, you’ll ignore all the rebuttals to your thin arguments and retreat to your hole secure in your certainty that you’ve accomplished something other than getting your ass handed to you. Like a toddler in a high chair, the fact that you can’t keep up with the grownups’ conversation is less important to you than the fact that they’re actually noticing the ruckus you’re making.




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  16. TM01 says:

    Of course we both know you won’t do that. Like usual, you’ll ignore all the rebuttals to your thin arguments and retreat to your hole secure in your certainty that you’ve accomplished something other than getting your ass handed to you. Like a toddler in a high chair, the fact that you can’t keep up with the grownups’ conversation is less important to you than the fact that they’re actually noticing the ruckus you’re making.

    I like how all the Grownups (sic) always end up resorting to childish insults.

    But you go on thinking you’re The Smartest Person In The Room.




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  17. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: I’m betting he will, but Bolton and Pompeo may make the leap impossible to make (score one for inertia and knee-jerk reactionism).




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  18. Kathy says:

    @Franklin:

    Not in Hawaii, are you?

    Mexico City. The alert goes off a minute or so before the quake hits.

    We have volcanoes nearby, too. One has been spewing ash now and then for the past decade or so.




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  19. An Interested Party says:

    I like how all the Grownups (sic) always end up resorting to childish insults.

    Oh, you mean like calling someone the Village Idiot…




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  20. @Guarneri:

    That’s funny, I don’t recall the Administration saying it would be easy.

    I guess I hallucinated the tweets from the president making it sound all very straight-forward, not to mention the calls for a Nobel Peace Prize.

    It is likely true the phrase “it will be easy” has not been spoken, but they have clearly been treating like it is easy.




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  21. @TM01:

    Libya: How Obama completely fscked US negotiations and foreign policy for the foreseeable future.

    I have noticed defenders of the administration love to point out the Libya is on Obama. That is not unfair, but it utterly misses the point. The point is the regardless of who did what, there is a clear lesson for Kim from Libya: give up your nuclear program, and you may die.

    Really, truly: understanding politics is not about determining whether the president you like (or don’t like) is in office when something happens.




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  22. @Kathy:

    Mexico City. The alert goes off a minute or so before the quake hits.

    That can’t be true, because it would mean that failed state down south with all the horrible people has better technology in this arena that we have in the US. Ergo: fake news.




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  23. Kylopod says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Here is Trump’s tweet from April 22:

    “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd of Fake News NBC just stated that we have given up so much in our negotiations with North Korea, and they have given up nothing. Wow, we haven’t given up anything & they have agreed to denuclearization (so great for World), site closure, & no more testing!”

    Note that at no point so far has NK “agreed to denuclearization.”

    Claiming to have already extracted concessions that have not, in fact, been extracted is most definitely an example of assuming the task is much easier than it is.




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  24. TM01 says:

    @An Interested Party: just coming down to your level.

    Apparently I need to every now and then.




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  25. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The 1985 quake was a powerful motivator. We’ve had the seismic alert for decades now.

    Tell the Trumpers, the failed state down south does spend money on important infrastructure projects 🙂




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  26. Kylopod says:

    @TM01:

    just coming down to your level.

    There is no “level” for you to “come down to.” Let’s note for the record that in all the NK threads over the past few days, people have made several substantive objections to your arguments, and you have not responded to a single one of them. All you have done is accused me of launching “childish insults,” completely ignoring the substance of my comment to MBunge, as usual.

    Of course all I did was mock MBunge for doing what you do, which is drop a few right-wing talking points, allow other commenters to destroy those claims through rational argumentation, and then just am-scray–without ever wavering in your cocky self-assurance that you’ve completely vanquished the laughable libtards we all self-evidently are. You’ve done it before, and you’ll do it again, and again, and again. And so will MBunge, and Guarneri, and JKB, and all the rest of the troupe of right-wing Don Quixotes who imagine they’re always winning every argument by doing precisely nothing.

    The trajectory of our conversations always goes something like this:

    “1 + 1 = 3! Suck it libtards!”

    “Um, actually, 1 + 1 = 2, you ignorant dumbass.”

    “Hahaha! All you’ve got is childish insults!”




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