North Korea Moves Goalposts, Threatens To Cancel Trump-Kim Summit

Not surprisingly, the North Koreans are pushing back against American efforts to force them into a corner on denuclearization.

Seemingly out of the blue the North Korean government has thrown cold water on the negotiation process leading up to the planned June 12th summit meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, threatening to cancel the meeting due both to the resumption of regular military exercises and apparent American demands regarding denuclearization:

SEOUL — North Korea is rapidly moving the goal posts for next month’s summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump, saying the United States must stop insisting it “unilaterally” abandon its nuclear program and stop talking about a Libya-style solution to the standoff.

The latest warning, delivered by former North Korean nuclear negotiator Kim Gye Gwan on Wednesday, fits Pyongyang’s well-established pattern of raising the stakes in negotiations by threatening to walk out if it doesn’t get its way.

This comes just hours after the North Korean regime cast doubt on the planned summit by protesting joint air force drills taking place in South Korea, saying they were ruining the diplomatic mood.

If the Trump administration approaches the summit “with sincerity” for improved relations, “it will receive a deserved response from us,” Kim Gye Gwan, now vice foreign minister, said in a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday.

“However, if the U.S. 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 DPRK-U.S. summit,” he said, using the abbreviation for North Korea’s official name. He also questioned the sequencing of denuclearization first, compensation second.

Analysts said they were not surprised by these latest developments in what has been a year of diplomatic whiplash.

“The U.S. and South Korea hold an exercise, which contains some strategic strike elements to it. U.S. officials can’t seem to get on the same page regarding denuclearization and what is required of North Korea,” said Ken Gause, a North Korea leadership expert at CNA, a Virginia-based consulting firm. “At some point, North Korea was going to cry foul.”

Trump and Kim Jong Un are due to meet in Singapore on June 12, which would be the first time a North Korean leader had met with a sitting U.S. president.

Trump and his top aides, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, have repeatedly said that the United States wants the “complete verifiable irreversible denuclearization of North Korea” — a high standard that Pyongyang has previously balked at.

Bolton, known for his sharply hawkish views, has said that North Korea must commit to a disarmament similar to “Libya 2004.” He was undersecretary of state for arms control in 2004, when Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi agreed to give up its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.

But this is not a tempting model for North Korea. Seven years after surrendering his nuclear program, Gaddafi was overthrown, then brutally killed by opponents of his regime.

North Korea lashed out at Bolton, whom the regime derided as “human scum” while he worked in the George W. Bush administration, and at the suggestions that North Korea should be dealt with in the same way that the Bush administration dealt with Libya and Iraq.

“This is not an expression of intention to address the issue through dialogue. It is essentially a manifestation of awfully sinister move[s] to impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya or Iraq, which had been collapsed due to the yielding of their countries to big powers,” Kim Gye Gwan said.

The “world knows too well that our country is neither Libya nor Iraq, which have met a miserable fate,” he said, harking back to North Korea’s previous criticism of Bolton. “We shed light on the quality of Bolton already in the past, and we do not hide a feeling of repugnance towards him,” the vice minister said.

In negotiations over the years, North Korea has repeatedly threatened to walk out over disagreements — and has on occasion actually walked out. In that respect, Wednesday’s announcement is not surprising and underscores analysts’ warnings that North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons easily.

This latest announcement came just hours after the DPRK had suspended a series of pre-summit talks over the issue of a planned upcoming joint military exercise between the United States and South Korean forces. That exercise, known as Max Thunder, has been held every year for at least the last ten years and has often resulted in protests from the North Koreans. Both the South Korean Defense Ministry and the Pentagon responded to the North Korean statement regarding the military drills by stressing, as they have in the past, that the drills will go forward and that they are primarily aimed at enhancing the skills of pilots and other elements of the military and ensuring defensive readiness of American and South Korean forces and that none of the elements of the drill touch upon offensive actions against the DPRK . In their statement, the North Koreans strongly disagreed, calling the agreement “a flagrant challenge to the Panmunjom Declaration and an intentional military provocation running counter to the positive political development on the Korean Peninsula.” The declaration that the North Koreans are referring to here is the joint agreement signed by Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae In which, among other things, the leaders agreed to pursue a formal end to the Korean War that goes beyond the armistice signed in 1953 and to pursue the “denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.

The second statement from North Korea, though, came in response to statements that National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has been on the job for just over a month, made in several appearances on Sunday morning news programs two weeks ago in which he equated the U.S. approach to the talks with North Korea to what happened with Libya in the aftermath of the Iraq War:

The White House is looking at Libya as one example of how it will handle potential negotiations with North Korea on dismantling its nuclear program, John Bolton, US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, said Sunday.

But experts say the Libya model is a dangerous one to trot out when discussing North Korea.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi agreed to abandon his nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief in the early 2000s. Within years, Gadhafi was overthrown and killed by rebels backed by Washington.

Analysts who study North Korea say Pyongyang often cites Gadhafi’s case to show that only nuclear weapons can deter the United States in the long-term to ensure the survival of the Kim Jong Un regime.

Bolton appeared to use the Libya case as an example of how North Korea might develop the trust of international partners, just days after after Kim committed to the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula during a historic summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

“One thing that Libya did that led us to overcome our skepticism was that they allowed American and British observers into all their nuclear related sites. So it wasn’t a question of relying on international mechanisms. We saw them in ways we had never seen before,” Bolton told CBS News.

The Korean Central News Agency specifically addressed those comments in the statement it issued last night:

High-ranking officials of the White House and the Department of State including Bolton, White House national security adviser, are letting loose the assertions of so-called Libya mode of nuclear abandonment, “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization,” “total decommissioning of nuclear weapons, missiles and biochemical weapons” etc. while talking about formula of “abandoning nuclear weapons first, compensating afterwards.”

This is not an expression of intention to address the issue through dialogue. It is essentially a manifestation of awfully sinister move to impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya or Iraq which had been collapsed due to yielding the whole of their countries to big powers.

I cannot suppress indignation at such moves of the U.S., and harbor doubt about the U.S. sincerity for improved DPRK-U.S. relations through sound dialogue and negotiations.

World knows too well that our country is neither Libya nor Iraq which have met miserable fate.

It is absolutely absurd to dare compare the DPRK, a nuclear weapon state, to Libya which had been at the initial state of nuclear development.

We shed light on the quality of Bolton already in the past, and we do not hide our feelings of repugnance towards him.

If the Trump administration fails to recall the lessons learned from the past when the DPRK-U.S. talks had to undergo twists and setbacks owing to the likes of Bolton and turns its ear to the advice of quasi-“patriots” who insist on Libya mode and the like, prospects of upcoming DPRK-U.S. summit and overall DPRK-U.S. relations will be crystal clear.

We have already stated our intention of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and made clear on several occasions that precondition for denuclearization is to put an end to anti-DPRK hostile policy and nuclear threats and blackmail of the United States.

But now, the U.S. is miscalculating the magnanimity and broad-minded initiatives of the DPRK as signs of weakness and trying to embellish and advertise as if these are the product of its sanctions and pressure.

These reactions from the North are hardly surprising, of course. As Gerry Mullany notes at The New York Times, this kind of rhetoric and behavior on the part of the DPRK is part and parcel of what we have seen in the past from the North Koreans, which has included everything from routine complaining about the military exercises that the United States and the South Koreans to agreeing to deals with regard to their nuclear program that they later back out of or violate outright even while pretending to live up to. Additionally, as Choe Sang-Hun and Jane Perlez note in another piece in the Times, this move by the North is merely a reminder of the true colors of the Pyongyang regime and a reminder that the road to negotiations with the North is not going to be an easy one and that success is by no means guaratted, Furthermore, it’s worth noting that much of what we’re seeing here is an effort by the North Koreans to not be seen as merely being compliant with demands from the United States and South Korea in the weeks leading up to the still-planned summit between Kim and Trump in Singapore. In that sense, it’s not dissimilar from the same kind of back and forth we see in other diplomatic contexts, and it’s still possible that the talks will ultimately go forward notwithstanding the roadblocks that were apparently hit yesterday.

All that being said, it should not come as any surprise at all that Bolton’s statements would end up being interpreted as a warning by the North Koreans. Indeed, as I noted at the time, the fate of Libya (and Iraq) compared with that of other nations sends a strong signal to the North that the Administration doesn’t seem to understand:

In the case of Libya, which gave up its nuclear and WMD research efforts in the wake of the Iraq War in what the leadership at the time clearly believed would be a move that would help ensure their long-term survival. Instead of survival, though, Libya ended up finding itself the target of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France in a civil war that ended with the collapse of the Gaddafi regime and the death of Gaddafi himself. The North Koreans most likely learned a similar lesson from what happened to Saddam Hussein, another autocratic leader who gave up his weapons of mass destruction only to see his country invaded and him being forced into hiding and eventual capture, after which he faced a trial and ultimately execution.

On the other side of the table, the North Koreans are no doubt aware of the fate of other nations that have pursued nuclear weapons programs notwithstanding the objections of the international community. With Indian and Pakistan, for example, we have two nations that pursuant nuclear weapons development notwithstanding international pressure and which both now possess what is likely a sufficient nuclear deterrent to ensure their survival. Finally, of course, we have the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) and the manner in which the Iranians were treated. Rather than being attacked like the Libyan and Iraqi governments, the Iranians obtained an international agreement that allowed them to largely escape a crippling sanctions regime and, to at least some degree of the Islamic Republic back into the world community from which North Korea has been excluded for the better part of the time it has existed. Notwithstanding the fact that the Trump Administration and much of the news media likes to paint the Kim regime, and Kim Jong-Un himself as unhinged, their actions to date indicate quite the opposite and that they are very much acting in quite a rational manner. Given that, the fact that the United States is looking to a model that led to the leader of an authoritarian regime being killed by a mob and his body dragged through the streets  is likely not going to go over very well in Pyongyang

That appears to be exactly what happened in the wake of Bolton’s remarks. As I’ve said in the past, demanding that the DPRK give up whatever nuclear weapons it already is likely to be a non-starter in any negotiations with the North for the reasons I’ve noted above. Furthermore, as Daniel Larison notes, this reaction to Bolton’s statement should have been entirely predictable:

As long as the administration insists on “complete, verifiable, and irreversible” denuclearization, it is difficult to see what agreement the U.S. and North Korea could reach in the months and years to come. Disarming North Korea of its nuclear weapons is and has long been an unrealistic goal, and if the U.S. wants to get anything out of talks with North Korea it should be willing to settle for much more modest concessions. Diplomacy with North Korea is definitely the right way forward, but the administration and all other parties have to approach negotiations with the understanding that North Korea is going to remain a nuclear-armed state for the foreseeable future. Once that is understood and accepted, the U.S. and its allies may be able to secure important limitations on North Korea’s weapons and missile programs and it makes real progress towards a lasting peace treaty possible. If the U.S. and its allies can’t or won’t accept this, the standoff from last year is very likely to resume and grow much worse. That is probably what Bolton and other hard-liners are counting on, and we have to hope that they are disappointed.

Larison is, of course, absolutely correct. Kim’s reaction to Bolton invoking the so-called “Libya model” is something that the Trump Administration should have seen coming and should be prepared to address if they really want these negotiations, and the June summit, to go forward. Additionally, this entire incident is yet another piece of evidence against the argument that many Americans have put forward regarding the regime in North Korea, namely that its leaders are in some way “insane” or suicidal to the extent that they would even seek to provoke the United States by launching a nuclear, or even conventional, first strike against the United States or its allies. The fact that the North Koreans are objecting to Libya as a model for any talks with the US conclusively shows that they aren’t insane at all. Libya gave up its WMD research program and Gaddafi ended up being dragged through the streets until dead. Iraq gave up its WMD program after the end of the Persian Gulf War and Saddam ended up dead. Ukraine gave up the Soviet weapons that were on its soil and ended up losing Crimea. From the North Korean perspective, giving up nukes would be a step down the road to regime suicide. *That*, from their perspective at least, would be a sign of insanity. What they’re doing is completely rational, and in light of the rhetoric from people like Bolton and others, totally understandable.

As I said, in the end, it’s likely that what we’re seeing here is an effort by the DPRK to make its position clear rather than a real setback on the road to the summit. As of now, that summit is still going forward as scheduled, and I suspect that, in the end, it will happen. If it’s going to be any kind of success, though, then the United States needs to understand that it will not succeed at all if they approach the talks as a one-sided affair where the North Koreans make all the concessions. Additionally, it’s likely that we’ll have to accept, for the foreseeable future, the reality of a nuclear-armed North Korea. If we do that then, as Larison says, we might actually accomplish something. If we don’t then all these negotiations will be a waste of time, and we could be headed toward something far more confrontational on the Korean Peninsula. Of course, that may be exactly what Bolton and others in the Administration want.

FILED UNDER: Asia, Donald Trump, National Security, North Korea, Politicians, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    I think Kim is watching to see how desperate Trump is. Will Trump respond like an eager puppy wanting his bone? Or will he be ready to walk away?

    Bolton is sure to want to be ready to walk, he’s a loon but not an idiot. Trump on the other hand is an idiot, and is already imagining his Nobel and he needs a win, a distraction, something.

    Plus I assume that Trump and Bolton and Miller and Pompeo have decided on war with Iran as more lucrative than war with North Korea – there could be a tidal wave of Arab and Adelson money going to Trump properties. (Watch Michael Cohen’s accounts closely.) Whereas there’s no profit to be made out of war with NK, certainly not while Trump is busy cashing Chairman Xi’s checks to help ZTE. I mean, priorities, people, money is always first with Trump.

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  2. KM says:

    This isn’t moving the goalposts so much as it is term definitions – something any diplomat, lawyer or deal maker is intimately acquainted with. “Denuclearization” means…. what exactly? The removal of nukes? Stopping the current process of obtaining them but leaving the door open? Dismantling existing one and preventing all future acquisitions? It’s pretty damn clear we are not using the same definition and haven’t been since Day One. How hard it is to say “removal of existing nuclear armaments and prevention of creating or obtaining ones”? Sure, denuclearization is shorter and easier to say but it leaves the door open to issues like this. We kinda set ourselves up for this: NK can go back to their people and say they tried but the US wouldn’t agree to peace and we look like idiots because we used unclear syntax that could be misinterpreted.

    For a supposed deal-maker and real estate mogul, Trump’s really freaking bad at this. There’s a reason why legal deals are multiple pages long with (occasionally more then one) pages solely for terms and definitions. This is why you don’t gut your State Dept and hire freaking professionals. They, like half the internet it seems, caught the vagueness of the term and would have ceased using it the second it looked like NK was playing semantics.

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  3. grumpy realist says:

    North Korea has continually played Lucy with the football when it comes to actual deliveries, so why is anyone surprised now?

    Will be amusing to see how Cadet BoneSpurs will react. Having a tantrum won’t help, dear sir. And you also might want to remember that China isn’t going to take kindly if you start lobbing nukes around.

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  4. An Interested Party says:

    When the possibility of a summit first appeared, I noticed there were voices on the right talking about all the failures of the past under Obama and Clinton and how things were different this time with the alleged deal maker involved…guess things aren’t so different this time, hmm…

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  5. Kathy says:

    But, but, Me am TRUMP! Kim am tremble before Mighty Cheeto!

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  6. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Kim isn’t the only one moving the goal posts.
    From the beginning Dennison claimed, as the world’s greatest negotiator, he would get rid of the nuclear weapons. Asked what he meant by “denuclearization,” Dennison said:

    “It means they get rid of their nukes — very simple.”

    But now Pompeo is moon-walking that:

    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.

    The president has a commitment. And he will make this commitment to Chairman Kim, I am confident, that says, if you do the things we need to do, so that America is no longer held at risk by your nuclear weapons arsenal, and that you get rid of your [chemical weapons] program and missiles that threaten the world, we will ensure that your people have the opportunity for the greatness that I know Chairman Kim wants them to have.

    Emphasis, mine.
    A likely ending is that North Korea gives up missiles that can reach the US, gets rid of chemical and biological weapons, and maybe some ability to build new nukes. We could have gotten a similar deal at any point in the last couple decades, but it requires us to throw our friends, S. Korea and Japan, under the bus. Additionally, it won’t be anywhere near as effective as the Iraq deal that Dennison pulled out of because, as he said, it was a horrible deal that never should have been made.

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  7. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Diplomacy with North Korea is definitely the right way forward…

    If diplomacy were Trump’s goal, wouldn’t he have chosen a different… more… well diplomatic… team?

    If negotiations go forward–I’m not optimistic myself–the word “compensation” from the CKNA statement may be really significant. I’m even more convinced that this whole game is about money–Kim knows that SK and the US will not back down on Max Thunder as they already postponed it as a gesture of good will for the Peace House meeting earlier. Expect to see NK request that the US make a big down payment for continuation of the current direction. I would expect to see Trump give away many of the sanctions and probably sent Guarnari’s “pallet load of cash” as development assistance. Maybe Trump will offer to finish the Ryugyong Hotel. It may be interesting to watch, but expect US intransigence to be given on both sides of the DMZ as the cause of a failed negotiation.

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  8. TM01 says:

    “Libya gave up its WMD research program and Gaddafi ended up being dragged through the streets until dead.”

    Gee.

    #ThanksObama for throwing US diplomacy and negotiations into complete chaos for the foreseeable future. What a short-sighted, ignorant, foolish, uneducated buffoon to just change US foreign policy on a dime with no regard for how it would affect our Word in the future.

    I think Trump’s biggest challenge is just convincing NK that he’s not like previous Presidents and that his word actually means something.

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  9. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    If negotiations go forward–I’m not optimistic myself–the word “compensation” from the CKNA statement may be really significant.

    Good catch. I missed it on the first go round.

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  10. PJ says:

    @TM01:

    I think Trump’s biggest challenge is just convincing NK that he’s not like previous Presidents and that his word actually means something.

    There is a reason why a lot of people who, for some reason, decided to do business with Trump a second time asked to be paid upfront.

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  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @TM01:

    #ThanksObama

    TMzero says we should have let Gaddafi keep his WMD, and supported him in murdering his own people.

    I think Trump’s biggest challenge is just convincing NK that he’s not like previous Presidents and that his word actually means something.

    You do realize your Dear Leader has lied over 3000 times since taking office, correct?
    Yeah…probably you don’t…I don’t think they mentioned it on State TV…er…I mean, Fox News.

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  12. CSK says:

    Trump said an hour or so ago that “we’ll see” whether the summit will take place. He’s preparing an exit strategy, one supposes.

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  13. CSK says:

    @TM01:

    Trump’s “word actually means something”?

    You cannot be serious.

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  14. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @CSK:

    Trump said an hour or so ago that “we’ll see” whether the summit will take place.

    He’s waiting for tonight’s Hannity Show to find out what is going on.

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  15. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    And then they can hash it out further during their nightly bedtime phone call.

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  16. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @CSK:

    their nightly bedtime phone call.

    No wonder Melania sleeps in an undisclosed location in DC.

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  17. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    TMzero says we should have let Gaddafi keep his WMD, and supported him in murdering his own people.

    Point. But strategically, supporting rebels against Gaddafi after he relinquished his WMDs was a mistake. I wonder if Obama at least offered him a comfortable exile somewhere.

    Still, that pales to the monumental blunder that was invading Iraq in 2003, or now the attempt to undo the JCPOA.

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  18. KM says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker :

    Expect to see NK request that the US make a big down payment for continuation of the current direction. I would expect to see Trump give away many of the sanctions and probably sent Guarnari’s “pallet load of cash” as development assistance.

    I’d love to see the spin on that. The ZTE mess got the stupid rationale that “oh well, let China have it and they’ll help with NK!” but if NK’s over there demanding even more money and nation-building, how’s that MAGA? How’d we not get screwed over twice in a month and yet Trump’s bank account got bigger?

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  19. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kathy:

    But strategically, supporting rebels against Gaddafi after he relinquished his WMDs was a mistake. I wonder if Obama at least offered him a comfortable exile somewhere.

    Gaddafi refused exile…he said he die a martyr rather than leave Libya…and so he got a bayonet in his butt…literally.
    I don’t see allowing Gaddafi’s overthrow as a mistake…the mistake, and Obama admits this…was in not preparing for the aftermath. Same mistake we made in Iraq…although that wasn’t close to being the only blunder in the Iraq War.

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  20. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    He’s waiting for tonight’s Hannity Show to find out what is going on.

    I hear it’s a cliffhanger which won’t be resolved until Fox & Friends the next day.

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  21. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Gaddafi refused exile…he said he die a martyr rather than leave Libya

    When people talk like that, I wonder if they realize all martyrs are dead, usually killed by fairly horrible means.

    But it was still a mistake. For one thing, one intervention makes it more likely others will expect such interventions as well. Your country then seems hypocritical for not engaging elsewhere.

    The lack of planning is not just a mistake, it’s inexcusably criminal given the experience in Iraq. I can imagine the Bush team thinking “We depose Saddam, and then somehow (probably Jesus), Iraq will become a decent, humane democracy like Canada.” But anyone beyond that who topples or aids in toppling a regime, has to know things won’t be easy, neat, clean, and especially not bloodless.

    It’s true there are often no good choices in foreign policy (damn nations insist on acting as though they are independent countries and all). But there are fairly wide degrees of separation in the choices available. Regime change, we’ve seen, is messy and often bloody. And in the Middle East, it adds fuel to Islamic terrorist groups.

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  22. TM01 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I see the Village Idiot is back blaming Trump for destroying America’s word and reputation as he sat idly by and watched previous Presidents destroy America’s word and reputation.

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  23. Todd says:

    This twitter thread from over 2 weeks ago pretty much predicted exactly how this would go down: https://twitter.com/HoarseWisperer/status/996583143741317120

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  24. PJ says:

    @TM01:

    I see the Village Idiot is back blaming Trump for destroying America’s word and reputation as he sat idly by and watched previous Presidents destroy America’s word and reputation.

    I have an image for you.

    Here it is.

    The title is “Changes in U.S. Leadership Approval From 2016-2017”.

    It’s quite clear which President it is who has destroyed America’s reputation abroad. But people in Belarus, a country run by a dictator, really likes Trump more than Obama. Maybe that’s something you could be happy about?

    And America’s word? Just listen to leaders in Europe talking about no longer being able to trust the United States…

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  25. An Interested Party says:

    I see the Village Idiot is back blaming Trump for destroying America’s word and reputation…

    If anyone wants to know anything about Trump’s word and reputation, all they need to do is to talk to the many contractors and others who have worked for him and were later stiffed…

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  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: IIRC, the Bushies were under the impression that overthrowing Saddam would not only be easy, but would also empower a cohort of moderates champing at the bit for their chance to gain power and run a peaceful democratic state that would be sooooooo amazing that it would destabilize the remaining evil despots in the region. Why they thought that, I never quite figured out, but the aftermath did look good–if only on paper and only for a few weeks.

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  27. Eric Florack says:

    From Austin Bay;

    Yesterday Kim Kye Gwan, North Korean First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs,wiggled and yelped as he “sharply criticized American officials – especially national security adviser John Bolton – for suggesting that Libya could be a template for denuclearizing North Korea.” Kim added that North Korea’s nuclear program is far more advanced than Libya’s nascent program.

    That’s true. However, the vice minister’s complaint ignores several facts, which is a good indication it’s an agitation-propaganda ploy to try to get the Trump Administration to accept something less that complete denuclearization.

    Well, maybe there’s something else that you’re missing here, Austin. And it’s something that I alluded to yesterday in quoting John Hawkins…

    Obama’s move to overthrow Gaddafi after he cooperated with us to get rid of his WMD program was one of the worst foreign policy blunders of the last 50 years.

    It seems rather clear to me that the real fear here on Kim’s part is that he’s suddenly going to disappear the way that Moammar Kadafi did. Mind you, I don’t think Donald Trump will be that stupid. I reserve such stupidity for the likes of Barack Hussein Obama. That said, and knowing the way John Bolton loves to turn the screws, (something I’ve always loved about him) I can’t help but think that the reference to Libya intended this reaction from Kim. The military maneuvers going on right now between the United States and South Korea certainly didn’t hurt that image, either. The advantage here would be to keep Kim off balance and nervous as a cat at the Westminster Dog Show. The implication laid out by Bolton serves that purpose very well indeed. Subtle, but very effective.

    Mind you I consider that Kim disappearing would be totally justified. As would his being hung by his heels rather publicly.

    Kim knows it, too, in a sense. His coming to the negotiating table with Donald Trump just now is, if nothing else an admission of that desperate fear. Here is someone who knows that absent a Game Change, his days in power are numbered and is looking to reinforce his power structure in North Korea. Historically, as a rule, the ends of deposed dictators have not been pretty. And remember that from the beginning, Kim has been making it clear both directly and through implication that his primary objective here is to remain in power.

    So I’m thinking his threats of pulling out of the negotiations will come to absolutely nothing. Kim knows that if he doesn’t negotiate with Trump, he assumes room temperature.

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  28. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Why they thought that, I never quite figured out, but the aftermath did look good–if only on paper and only for a few weeks.

    I’m re-reading parts of Barbara Tuchman’s “The March of Folly” (largely for research for a Trojan War story I’m thinking about). I think she’d ascribe it to “wooden-headedness.” Tuchman defines it as a belief or action that is not only foolish, but which can be seen as foolish when it’s undertaken or acted upon.

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  29. An Interested Party says:

    So I’m thinking his threats of pulling out of the negotiations will come to absolutely nothing. Kim knows that if he doesn’t negotiate with Trump, he assumes room temperature.

    Uh huh…the leader of a country that possesses nuclear weapons will assume room temperature if he does’t negotiate with the Orang Blob…sure…

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  30. Eric Florack says:

    @An Interested Party: apparently you’re not calculating with the idea that the place they were doing nuclear development collapsed on them. Which in turn is why both the Russians and the Chinese are pissed off at him. That collapse also suggest that he has no nuclear capability to speak of anymore. His research project just got through blowing that up.

    The moves that Kim has been doing lately are of someone who has run out of options.

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  31. Eric Florack says:

    @An Interested Party: and by the way, lest you have any misunderstanding here, his assuming room temperature would be accomplished by his own people. In much the same way qaddafi’s end was arranged.

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  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Eric Florack: You never cease to amaze me. That’s not a good thing. Reading your thoughts leaves me gobsmacked every time. Wow!

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  33. TM01 says:

    @PJ:

    And America’s word? Just listen to leaders in Europe talking about no longer being able to trust the United States…

    Ooh. A bunch of elitest socialists are mad that we’re no longer sprinting down the full socialist road. So frakking what? Let them their their tantrums.

    Meanwhile, Eastern Europe, where there are some actual leaders, stood with Trump and prevented the EU from condemning the Israeli embassy move. Good for them.

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  34. Jen says:

    Ooh. A bunch of elitest [sic] socialists are mad that we’re no longer sprinting down the full socialist road. So frakking what? Let them their their tantrums.

    I’m not sure why I’m bothering, but…these are our allies. We are big, but we get one vote, ONE, on the Security Council. We are a single seat at the table at talks. A big seat, yes, but one. And that’s just the public face–what about sharing intelligence? Security matters? Reciprocal travel and trade agreements? US-based companies with global employees? Do you even have any sense of how intertwined we are with the *world*, let alone our allies?

    This chest-beating nonsense on the part of some Americans (it seems to be a defining characteristic of Trump supporters) needs to stop. It shows a profound lack of understanding of the world and our place in it.

    We NEED allies. How successful are trade embargoes or sanctions if we’re the only ones participating? How do we stop the flow of money to terrorist groups if we don’t work with our allies? Honestly, stop and THINK.

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  35. Eric Florack says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I get the impession impression shocking you isn’t all that High a hurdle.

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  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Asking him to think probably set the bar too high.

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  37. Eric Florack says:

    I received comments privately that some of you are completely Misreading what I’m saying here. That I’m encouraging the elimination of Kim. That’s beyond the scope of what I was writing here. If you look closely you may notice that I directly addressed that issue by saying I didn’t think Trump was quite that stupid. I reserved that level of stupidity for Obama Visa Vie Kadafi.

    The article as written addresses the fears of Kim. Those fears are what’s motivating him here. Bolton recognizes that and manipulated his words accordingly.

    The thing is to capture that meeting you actually have to read what I wrote instead of Leaping to conclusions halfway through the article

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  38. grumpy realist says:

    @Jen: Also the whole Iran thing–well, storming out of the treaty and then turning around and saying “now I want all of you to follow me!” to the EU, China, and Russia never was going to work. Iran is too big of a potential market (and has too much oil and gas) for the rest of the world to blindly mimic the US’s snit fit.

    Besides which, the only reason the US is being cranky about Iran is a) the neocons and b) Israel.

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  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Eric Florack: True dat–at least related to you. But you can still think of it as an accomplishment if you’d like.

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  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Eric Florack: You understand neither brinksmanship nor predatory behavior as well as you imagine that you do. Neither does the author you cite. Nor does Bolton. A trifecta of false assumptions.

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  41. PJ says:

    @Eric Florack:

    I received comments privately that some of you are completely Misreading what I’m saying here.

    The voices in your head aren’t private comments.

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  42. Eric Florack says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: and yet, for all of the predictions about World War occurring with North Korea when Trump started playing Hardball, what happened instead?

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  43. wr says:

    @Eric Florack: “His coming to the negotiating table with Donald Trump just now is, if nothing else an admission of that desperate fear.”

    Kim — and his father before him — have been begging to meet with a US President as equals for decades. This isn’t Kim meekly submitting to the man you imagine has the biggest dick in the world but actually your idiot of a leader giving away a major bargaining chip without getting anything in return.

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  44. wr says:

    @Eric Florack: “That collapse also suggest that he has no nuclear capability to speak of anymore. His research project just got through blowing that up.”

    His capability didn’t blow up. His test site did — because he’s tested so many nuclear bombs lately. Do you really think his entire arsenal was stored in the caves where they detonated their nukes? Maybe their labs and all their scientists were in there, too?

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  45. teve tory says:

    CSK says:
    Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at 14:05
    @TM01:

    Trump’s “word actually means something”?

    You cannot be serious.

    I was listening to a Joe Rogan podcast literally yesterday and he said he personally knew guys in New York who went out of business when Trump didn’t pay them for their work.

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  46. teve tory says:

    Trump even had a lie engraved on an historical plaque on one of his properties. Anybody who trusts “Trump’s Word” is revealing himself to be a sucker.

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