North Korea: As The Date Draws Near

June 12, 2018 is the date for the new efforts to make the Korean Peninsula nuke free…Trump is suppose to meet Kim in Singapore…..but there may be a snag seems that both leaders are pushing back at each other as the date draws near……

North Korea is ratcheting up its threats—and potentially inching away from the table. After canceling high-level talks with South Korea planned for Wednesday and warning the US it could cancel Kim Jong Un’s meeting with President Trump over joint military exercises between the US and South Korea, another wrinkle. The Guardian reports Pyongyang is adding to the list of things that could imperil the planned June 12 summit: A statement released by KCNA on Wednesday says the North would bow out if the US maintains its “one-sided demand for us to give up our nukes.” The report quotes first vice minister of foreign affairs Kim Kye Gwan, and the New York Times has the statement in full. More on what it says, and reaction to it:

  • The statement references the “so-called Libya mode of nuclear abandonment” on more than one occasion, saying US comments about complete denuclearization amount to “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. … It is absolutely absurd to dare compare [North Korea], a nuclear weapon state, to Libya which had been at the initial state of nuclear development.”
  • Time addresses the Libya angle, explaining the fact that Moammar Gadhafi “was toppled with US backing despite acquiescing to demands to denuclearize has long been a thorn in US efforts to reach a deal with North Korea—one likely sharpened by Trump’s recent decision to nix a hard-fought denuclearization deal with Iran.”
  • Reuters notes the statement also offered harsh words about US national security adviser John Bolton, who has been promoting a Libya-style denuclearization. “We shed light on the quality of Bolton already in the past, and we do not hide our feeling of repugnance towards him,” it read, with Reuters recalling North Korea having called Bolton “human scum” when he worked for the Bush administration.
  • At the Times, Gerry Mullany sees “a pattern by the unpredictable regime,” and outlines five other times when North Korea “did a sudden about-face.” Read them here.
  • A senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists offers his take to the Guardian: “The North Koreans know how to make an explicit threat. By their standards, this is pretty circumspect. It could very well be a play for additional leverage or to see how the Trump team reacts.”
  • At Time, Korea expert Professor Stephan Haggard echoes that but sees a second possibility: That Kim has “gotten cold feet—they just want an out.”
  • As for the South, Yonhap reports South Korea Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “held emergency phone talks Wednesday in a show of solidarity against North Korea’s renewed brinkmanship.” The Guardian reports the joint US-South Korean military exercises, codenamed Max Thunder, started Friday and will continue.

The theater of the absurd continues….a tit for tat…..each trying to out tat the other……but how could a denuclearization be achieved?

The Brookings has a plan……

The recent news about the upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un on June 12 in Singapore is exciting and encouraging. It would not have seemed remotely possible a year ago—or even six months ago. Back then, war seemed much more likely. It is impossible to know whether the decision to hold a summit is primarily due to Kim’s newfound confidence in his missile and nuclear capabilities, or his fear of Trump’s military threats, or a result of the pain his country has endured from U.N.-imposed economic sanctions, which have cut North Korea’s external trade in half. Perhaps the charm offensives that Kim, Trump, President Moon, and Secretary Pompeo have been showering on one another led to the summit. In truth, it is probably some combination of most of those factors.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/05/14/a-step-by-step-plan-for-denuclearizing-north-korea/

The point is that if people are waiting for an instant “art of the deal” moment then they will be sadly mistaken.

Time will tell.

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The End Of Pax Americana

These days there are many people that are predicting the end of the “Pax Americana”….but then there are those that have damn idea what I am speaking of (that is until they dash to the Google machine to help them look informed)……so let me help so no one has a stroke trying to get there quickly……

Pax Americana is a term applied to the historical concept of relative peace in the Western Hemisphere and later the Western world resulting from the preponderance of power enjoyed by the United States beginning around the start of the 20th century. Although the term finds its primary utility in the later half of the 20th century, it has been used in various places and eras, such as the post-Civil War era in North America and globally during the time between the World Wars. Pax Americana is primarily used in its modern connotations to refer to the peace established after the end of World War II in 1945. In this modern sense, it has come to indicate the military and economic position of the United States in relation to other nations.

(freebase)

This phenom has been a good way to control the world and yet our leadership has been slipping……it started a rapid decline in 2001 and Bush’s desire for war and began its rapid descent in 2003 with the invasion and occupation of Iraq….and each president since has done nothing to stop the slide of the “Pax Americana”….not Obama and must certainly not Trump……

What if three very different U.S. presidents were to succeed each other in office, each focused like a laser on undoing what he saw as the gravely damaging policies of his predecessor? And what if, in so doing, the three actually compounded the damage done by the others? And what if, thanks to the handiwork of the all-powerful God of Irony, the three would someday be seen by history as the central collaborators in writing the closing chapter on Pax Americana, the more-than-70-year period that may someday be seen as the pinnacle of U.S. global influence?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2017/06/27/how-bush-obama-and-trump-ended-pax-americana/

Will the summit with North Korea help to stop the slide….and then the impending war that Iran could become that certainly not be a good thing for “Pax Americana”

We are losing our place among world nations…..will it cease?

The Iranian Nuke Deal Update

In this case it will be because of the Iranian nuke deal that the war mongers want the US to bow out.  His so-called national security team is manned with war mongers and as the deal comes up for renewal that prospects of a diplomatic breakthrough is not happening…..

The new SecState has gone on record saying that the US is “unlikely to stay in the deal”……

Speaking to reporters during his first overseas trip since confirmation, new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he believes it is very “unlikely” that President Trump will keep the United States in the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran past May 12.

Trump’s opposition to the nuclear deal centers on three issues. He wants limits on Iran’s civilian nuclear program to not sunset in the future. He also wants the IAEA to access non-nuclear military sites, which the IAEA has not sought to access at all. Finally, he wants the nuclear deal to “address Iran’s other activities,” like having conventional missiles.

(antiwar.com)

I have several opinions on what to do about the deal from a couple think tanks (not that I agree….just FYI)……

In the coming weeks, the Trump Administration will decide whether the United States will remain in or leave the Iran nuclear agreement. The agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is undoubtedly deeply flawed. Its sunset clause will permit Iran to enrich weapons-grade uranium in about a decade. It fails to address the ballistic missile issue, there are no “anytime, anywhere” inspections as the Obama Administration originally promised, and it has provided Tehran with billions of dollars in unfrozen assets and sanctions relief, which has helped finance its destabilizing activities in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere. There is nothing wrong with threatening to walk away from such a deeply flawed agreement. In fact, a credible threat to withdraw is what is needed to improve it. However, leaving the agreement would be not only illogical but potentially dangerous.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/04/27/the_iran_deal_if_you_cant_fix_it_dont_nix_it_113383.html

Then there is the US SecDef who seems the believe that the US should stay in the nuke deal…..

Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary James Mattis praised the P5+1 nuclear deal. These comments come just weeks ahead of President Trump’s May 12 ultimatum to withdraw from the deal if changes aren’t agreed to.

Mattis told the senators that the verification system is “robust,” and that gives the IAEA “intrusive ability” to check on Iran’s compliance. He in particularly praised what he believes was a deal “written almost with an assumption that Iran would try to cheat.”

Trump and his cabinet are believed to differ on the merits of the P5+1 deal, with Trump opposing the deal and most believing it is too valuable to lose. Mattis’ comments clearly put him in the pro-deal camp, as his praise for the verification in the deal comes as oversight remains one of Trump’s main complaints. Trump has demanded the IAEA be given access to non-nuclear sites that the IAEA itself insists it doesn’t want to visit at all.

(antiwar.com)

So far I have two takeaways……one–there is no consensus on the deal….the deal may hang on the last voice Trump hears before the deadline and two–if Mattis does not concur with Trump he may be looking at the door soon.

One last thought……

The discussions at the White House with French president Emmanuel Macron about devising, in Macron’s words, a “new deal with Iran” may be an instance of different governments using similar words to mean very different things. In that regard, it may be akin to how “denuclearization” means different things in the Korean context depending on which government uses the term. Although Macron can be criticized for some aspects of how he has handled the task he has taken on, especially with respect to the effect of his moves on Iranian perceptions and intentions, give him credit for taking on the task at all. To try to preserve an agreement that serves the interests of France, the United States, and the cause of nuclear nonproliferation, Macron has had to propitiate a bully—one who in front of the press in the Oval Office even added the bullying touch of flicking alleged dandruff off Macron’s suit coat.

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/paul-pillar/new-deals-old-deals-non-deals-iran-25581

This policy will be a policy to watch…..chest thumping aside….the theatrics will be amazing.

What The Hell Happened?

Do you remember the silly name calling by Trump and Lil Kim?  To many we were close of a nuke meltdown….I also thought there was a chance that all that rhetoric could be a chance for escalation.

After all the doom and gloom we have had a break through…….it appears as if all is coming up daisies and unicorns……

Nukes were the center of all the back and forth…..and now that has changed…..

North Korea’s official state media has announced that as of Saturday, all nuclear and long-range missile testing in the country are being suspended indefinitely. They also announced they will be closing their nuclear testing site.

The decisions were made at a meeting of the nation’s Central Committee, and officials say it marks a broad shift in national focus, toward trying to improve North Korea’s economy. It is also a very helpful move for the peace process.

Oh but wait there is so much more……

North Korea has expressed a desire for the “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean peninsula without attaching preconditions such as the withdrawal of US troops, the South Korean president has said.

The statement, unconfirmed by North Korea, comes before a summit between the leaders of the two countries on 27 April, to be followed in May or June by a meeting between Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, and Donald Trump

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/19/north-korea-wants-complete-denuclearisation-says-seoul

After all the chest thumping on both sides…..the “rhetoric” was the story in the past…..what would it be if that were eliminated?

a hotline between North and South Korea as turned on. The line connects North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in. The two are expected to talk over the phone ahead of next Friday’s summit.

Perhaps the biggest change is in rhetoric. North Korea in particular has dialed back anti-US rhetoric significantly. On Thursday, North Korea announced that they are okay giving up nuclear weapons even with the US leaving troops in South Korea. At no point in recent history has North Korea been so open to such a dramatic deal. South Korea and the US have similarly been a lot more optimistic about deals with North Korea over the past several months, as diplomatic efforts starting around the Winter Olympics have grown.

Who would have thought it?  After all the war baiting that the Korean Peninsula would become a more peaceful place.

What will the war Hawks do now?  Iran should prepare itself for new attacks on them by Israel which will make the case for US intervention.

North Korea And The Saga Continues

Just a few short months ago there was a tremendous war of words between Pres. Trump and Kim of North Korea…….and then as quickly as it had started the dialog change 180 degrees and the two countries were making nice….it caught most of us off guard for we had bee seeing the possibility of a second Korean War brewing….the neocons were push for the “bloody nose” scenario and others were pushing for a more diplomatic solution to all the escalation.

Then like a bolt from the hands of Zeus word came down that Kim had offered to shut down his enrichment sites and South Korea rejoiced……

All this was good news and the possibility that any armed conflict could be avoided…..but now that there seems to be a real plan forming the MSM has jumped on the opposite tack……

And that’s just the start of the reasons for optimism. A hotline between North and South Korea opened last Friday. The US is considering opening an embassy in Pyongyang. President Trump will also be having his own summit with Kim in late May or early June.

North Korea has made numerous significant concessions. They’ve halted missile and nuclear testing and are in the process of closing their nuclear testing site. Most significantly, they are open to a deal to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula without demanding 30,000 US troops withdraw from South Korea.

MSM is trying to find anything that can make it into the news in opposition to these meetings…..

All the very meaningful deals and announcements of the last four months adds up to a lot. That Reuters managed to find three South Koreans and one Japanese person who were skeptical means comparatively little. That they’re going to such great lengths to put a negative spin on the talks at all, however, may be much more important.

The Washington Post is also looking for reasons to be suspicious about North Korea’s promises. The New York Times is trying to portray China as an obstacle to progress on a deal. They further cited unnamed US and South Korean officials as believing North Korea’s peace overtures were a trick to get big concessions out of them. Even the Associated Press chimed in with a list of diplomatic efforts that have failed.

(antiwar.com)

It appears that little has changed….the MSM doing all it can to generate the news and set the dialog…..if they can sabotage this diplomatic effort….what will be next…the Iranian deal?

The Iranian Nuke Deal

Now that Trump has nominated a new SecState, John Bolton, the nuke deal that was negotiated by Obama and the P5+1 keeps making the news because the new SecState hates the deal and will work to eliminate it completely.

Let’s look at the nuke deal since Trump has come to be president…….

It looks like the Iran nuclear deal will not survive past May 12. That is the next occasion President Donald Trump will have to end waivers on crippling sanctions against Iran, withdrawing America from the agreement. Unless European allies commit to fixing its main flaws — the sunset provisions, lack of restrictions on Iran’s missile tests and the hampered inspection process — Trump will withdraw.

The president is already setting the stage. He replaced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the most vocal proponent of the deal, with one of its toughest critics, former CIA director Mike Pompeo. Then there is the new national security adviser, John Bolton, who six months ago drafted strategy for getting the U.S. out of the agreement altogether.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-03-28/trump-and-the-iran-deal-the-u-s-strategy-is-working

Trump has never thought the Iranian deal was a good idea and he is surrounding himself with like minded people…..and in doing so makes it appear as if it is only a matter of time before we pull out of the deal……and when we do pull out what can we expect?

Now that the president of the United States has named John Bolton as his new national security advisor and nominated Mike Pompeo to be the next Secretary of State, we enter the “be careful what you wish for” stage of US-Middle East politics.

These appointments mean that it is virtually certain that sometime in the middle of May, the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. The president has said he was inclined to do this to many including recent visitors from the region. Washington observers like Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Bob Corker have predicted it. Mr Bolton has frequently called for it.

Expect it to happen. The big question becomes: then what?

https://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/when-the-us-withdraws-from-the-iran-nuclear-deal-expect-three-stark-consequences-1.716152

Nothing about the elimination of this deal makes it a good thing for the US or the world…..it is only a matter of time before all this becomes a simmering problem with only one solution.

Where Have You Gone, George McGovern?

It is no secret that I am no war hawk…..I am a staunch anti-war supporter and for decades I have watched the Dems go from opposing war to blindly authorizing one after another……I recall the year that George McGovern won the Dem support for the presidential run…..that was a time when we Vets that opposed the war and wars and hoped that there could be a change in the way the country moved forward….we were  disappointed and very wrong…..

Where have those Dems gone since the days of McGovern?

He knew war well—well enough to know he hated it.

George McGovern was a senator from South Dakota, and he was a Democrat true liberals could admire. Though remembered as a staunch liberal and foreign policy dove, McGovern was no stranger to combat. He flew 35 missions as a B-24 pilot in Italy during World War II. He even earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for executing a heroic emergency crash landing after his bomber was damaged by German anti-aircraft fire.

Still, George McGovern was a humble man who carried the burden, and honor, of his military service with grace. Though proud of his service, he was never constrained by it. When he saw a foolish war, an immoral war—like Vietnam—he stood ready to dissent. He was an unapologetic liberal and unwavering in his antiwar stance. These days, his kind is an endangered species on Capitol Hill and in the Democratic National Committee. McGovern died in 2012. His party, and the United States, are lesser for his absence.

https://original.antiwar.com/Danny_Sjursen/2018/03/28/where-have-you-gone-george-mcgovern-2/

Americans need to find that voice that hates war and only wants what is best for the country……sadly those days are long gone replaced with the hordes of lobbyists that stand in line to own our politicians.

The result will be endless worthless wars that pervert everything in our society.