The Latest In US Diplomacy

My readers know that I am a foreign policy wonk and that I think the US is traveling a dangerous path…..but I try to keep my readers up to  date on the happenings on the world stage….

Let’s look at the latest on the North Korean deal……

North Korea doesn’t sound too happy about its latest chat with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the New York Times reports. The seats were practically still warm in Pyongyang Saturday when a North Korean spokesman called their latest nuclear talks “regrettable” and contrary to the spirit of Kim Jong Un’s summit meeting last month with President Trump. The issue? Trump’s administration is seeking “unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization,” said North Korea’s Foreign Ministry. The talks were “very concerning,” the ministry added, per the AP, and have entered a “dangerous phase that might rattle our willingness for denuclearization that had been firm.”

Pompeo had struck a more positive note after his delegation wrapped up two days of meetings with officials in Pyongyang, the Wall Street Journal reports. “These are complicated issues but we made progress on almost all of the central issues,” he said before boarding a flight to Tokyo. “Some places, a great deal of progress; other places there’s still more work to be done.” He declined to give details on the issues—like denuclearization, US economic investment in North Korea, or a timeline for repatriating US soldiers who died in the Korean War—but said the repatriation will happen “over the days that follow.” Kim, who had met with Pompeo on earlier visits, didn’t join the meeting this time around.

AS I and others have warned that there will be NOTHING simple about any deal with North Korea…..and events are bearing that warning out.

The US has been fighting in Syria for several years now in support of the “rebels” (whoever they may be) and I am always saying that we should back out and leave Syria to the Syrians….and then I read something on-line that made me wonder if there is a chance…..

Russian advisors visiting the Syrian capital Damascus are confident that the US forces will pull out of al-Tanf and will also aim to completely withdraw from north of Syria (al-Hasaka and Deir-Ezzour) in the next six months.

According to top decision makers based in Damascus, the US President Donald Trump is pushing his administration to approve an already prepared total withdrawal plan. Despite Trump’s limited knowledge of foreign policy and being unaware of the consequences of his decisions in the international arena, he found no convincing elements – said the sources, who asked to remain anonymous – in the presentation by his administration where US forces could benefit from the continuation of their presence in such a hostile environment and without suffering hits in the future.

I have said that I am concerned about the state of our alliances and then I am reminded that alliances have a tendency to mutate in one direction or the other……

“In politics, there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests.” This often-quoted dictum (attributed to 19th century British statesman Lord Palmerston) has proved its validity in the realm of international relations. The fugacity of alliances and of enmities is indeed a phenomenon that the world has witnessed umpteen times.

https://intpolicydigest.org/2018/07/06/from-anwar-sadat-s-egypt-to-kim-jong-un-s-north-korea-how-alliances-mutate/

Late breaking news from DPRK (North Korea)…..the war of words returns…..

On his first trip to Pyongyang following what was billed by the Trump administration as a triumphant summit last month with Kim Jong Un, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sounded fairly upbeat, saying “progress” had been made in talks to get North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal.

North Korea apparently didn’t get the memo.

https://thinkprogress.org/trump-administration-north-korea-denuclearization-talks-d8b3ee567d65/

Pompeo said the “denuclearization” has a wide array of definitions……let that stupidity sink in.

I shall try to keep my readers up to date as best I can…..thanx for stopping by….chuq

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North Korea–Continues To Unravel

WE all applauded the meeting of Kim-Trump and their announcement of a path to rid the Korean Peninsula of nukes….that was last month and ever since that meeting this topic is getting more and more confusing.

That idiot Bolton (personal opinion) is telling anyone that will listen that there could be an end to this situation in a year…..

Speaking on Face the Nation on Sunday, John Bolton claimed that the White House has a plan all set up that would see all North Korean “weapons of mass destruction,” not just their nuclear program, dismantled in a year.

Details were scant, but Bolton said it would see North Korea’s nuclear, biological, and chemical arsenals totally wiped out, along with its entire ballistic missile program. He warned this would only be possible with “full cooperation” from North Korea.

(antiwar.com)

This must inevitably raise questions on if Bolton’s comments are designed to support denuclearization, or undermine it. Bolton has long been opposed to North Korea diplomacy, and made it very clear that if his one-year deadline wasn’t met, it’d be proof North Korea wasn’t serious about the deal. This could easily be a plan designed to fail.

And yet intel shows a different situation……

President Trump’s declaration that there is “no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea” may have been somewhat premature, according to experts analyzing new satellite images from the country. The images show that North Korea is continuing to expand a missile-manufacturing plant in the city of Hamhung, the Wall Street Journal reports. The plant produces solid-fuel missiles, which can be launched with little warning, suggesting that Pyongyang is pressing ahead with weapons programs despite a recent moratorium on testing, analysts say. Intelligence sources tell the Washington Post that North Korea is preparing to conceal its nuclear weapons instead of giving up its entire stockpile.

A Defense Intelligence Agency report has concluded that despite Trump’s talk of a denuclearization deal after meeting Kim Jong Un, North Korean officials plan to deceive their American counterparts on the number of nuclear weapons and facilities they have, the Post‘s sources say. During a Fox interview Sunday, when asked about North Korea’s use of secret sites to enrich uranium, Trump admitted that it was possible the deal with North Korea, which didn’t include a deadline for denuclearization, could fall through, the Guardian reports. “I shook hands with him, I really believe he means it,” Trump said of Kim. “Now, is it possible? Have I been in deals, have you been in things where people didn’t work out? It’s possible.” (Work at a North Korea nuclear site is proceeding at “a rapid pace.”)

News has come out that Pompeo will return of DPRK…..

The White House says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will make another trip to North Korea as the Trump administration seeks agreement with Pyongyang on an acceptable denuclearization plan. Per the AP, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced on Monday that Pompeo would travel to North Korea this week. The trip to Pyongyang will be Pompeo’s second as top US diplomat and the first by a senior US official since Trump’s historic meeting with Kim Jong Un in Singapore last month. The trip comes as concerns mount over the North’s willingness to follow through on the agreement signed by the two leaders. US officials say they are clear-eyed about the North’s past behavior in negotiations. Pompeo last visited Pyongyang in May ahead of the Trump-Kim summit and traveled there secretly in early April while he was director of the CIA.

The announcement of Pompeo’s trip comes at the heels of news that satellite images have revealed that North Korea is continuing to expand a missile-manufacturing plant in the city of Hamhung, the Wall Street Journal reports. The plant produces solid-fuel missiles, which can be launched with little warning, suggesting that Pyongyang is pressing ahead with weapons programs despite a recent moratorium on testing, analysts say. Intelligence sources tell the Washington Post that North Korea is preparing to conceal its nuclear weapons instead of giving up its entire stockpile. On Sunday, Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton told CBS’ “Face the Nation” the the US has a plan that would lead to the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs in just one year. The Associated Press has more on why experts believe that 1-year plan may be unrealistic.

And the drama carries on…..everyday seems to be something new…..is all this a misdirection?  Or is there just an air of naivete?

The “Summit” Unravels?

We all know of the meeting between Kim and trump and yes even I applauded his, Trump’s, effort to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula…..what was it that Reagan said…..”Trust but verify”……that is good advice when dealing with North Korea……why?

Just a little over two weeks ago, President Trump tweeted, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” touting a vague agreement between the US and North Korea to work toward denuclearization. Many noted his post-summit declaration was unlikely, and recent satellite images lent credence to their doubt, showing infrastructure work at the Yongbyon nuclear site continuing at a “rapid pace.” Now, more than a dozen US officials inform NBC News on US intelligence agencies’ new suspicions: that Kim Jong Un has multiple sites boosting output of enriched uranium for nuclear weapons, and that Kim Jong Un is trying to keep them under cover while still vying for concessions with the US. “There is absolutely unequivocal evidence that they are trying to deceive the US,” says one official who’s been briefed on the intelligence report; four other officials agree.

A senior US intelligence official notes specifically what that deception involves: “The number of facilities, the number of weapons, [and] the number of missiles.” And another intelligence official says there are actually “lots of things” North Korea has tried to keep secret, revelations made as the US has augmented its spying efforts over the past few years. Most notably, per the intelligence report, it’s now believed that, in addition to Yongbyon and a second secret site that’s been long suspected, there’s at least one more. “This is why people want North Korea to declare all its facilities up front,” says Joel Wit, founder of the 38 North website dedicated to keeping an eye on North Korea. The White House didn’t respond to an NBC comment request; Reuters also tried, to no avail, to get comments from the White House, State Department, and CIA.

I have said that Americans do not need to get too excited….there is a long time between “summit” and peace.  Any talks will be telling until then optimism is required.

Coming Together In Peace

That is the feeling that we get from some of the news reports on the outcome of the Kim-Trump “summit”….and yet not everyone is on-board with this feeling…..

An implicit coalition of corporate media, Democratic partisans and others loyal to the national security state are actively hostile to any agreement that would endanger the continuation of the 70-year-old Cold War between the United States and North Korea.

The hostility toward Donald Trump on the part of both corporate media (except for Fox News) and the Democratic Party establishment is obviously a factor in the negative response to the summit. Trump’s dysfunctional persona, extremist domestic strategy and attacks on the press had already created a hyper-adversarial political atmosphere that surrounds everything Trump says or does.

https://original.antiwar.com/porter/2018/06/21/an-elite-coalition-emerges-against-a-trump-kim-agreement/

I think that the meeting was a good idea….since we are not privy to what was actually said in the meeting of the personas I will give them the benefit of the doubt….I think that the media is giving this “summit” too much credit…it was a meeting for two leaders and that is all….any progress toward peace will be made or not in the negotiations that are to come.

So was this meeting a success?  You betcha.  The photo ops were worth their weight in gold as they say…..and it gave enough speculation to the media to keep them going for awhile or until something new grabs their attention….and it has.

Those Talks With North Korea

The last “summit” is being billed as a success….and so far I will admit that it is a positive thing…..I will remain pessimistic for I have lived long enough to remember the “summits” from the past and their eventual outcomes.

If you have NO idea what I am talking about then a timeline might rattle those grey cells…..

As you can see our attempts to bring about a lasting solution to the Korean Peninsula have not ended so well……we can hope this time around will be different.

Another thing to keep in mind when talking with North Korea…..the right bottom corner is the ones to worry about…..

The ballistic missile submarine is the most reliable means of nuclear deterrence. These vessels would survive a first strike and retaliate, which is meant to prevent an enemy from ever using its weapons. These fearful underwater giants stay hidden in the oceans avoiding detection at all costs and are always ready for the moment they might be needed.

All aspects of nukes should be on the table…..

Just a thought.

Peace In Our Time?

Let’s get something straight before we get to the meat of this post…..I think that this situation shows promise for a happy ending for the Koreans.  But it will depend on the negotiations of the two parties and not the handshake for the cameras.  This is a dangerous situation and not a reality show….and yes if the deal actually ends the hostilities on the Peninsula then Trump should be awarded the Nobel but not for a handshake photo op.

Now let’s look at what is happening in the Koreas….we already have been beat to death by the US media…..the South Koreans have spoken at the polls….

When South Koreans went to the polls yesterday they registered their unambiguous backing for President Moon’s Democratic Party and the peace process that is a signature policy of his administration. In doing so, they also dealt a devastating blow to the country’s main faction hostile to North Korean diplomacy.

Here’s how one South Korean outlet summed up the results: “In what was considered an opportunity to measure the public support of the Moon Jae-in administration one year into its term, the Democratic Party achieved an enormous victory in the local elections of June 13th, providing even more political flexibility for Moon’s government…. At the same time, the Liberty Korea Party suffered a historically crushing rout that has seen its power wither, leaving it solely with its [traditional strongholds]…as the party appears on the verge of being swept away in a maelstrom of internal discord with members looking for someone to blame for this defeat.” (Translation of original Korean by author.)

(antiwar.com)

Looks like the locals are looking for that happy ending to 70+ years of hostilities……and SecState Pompeo has put a time limit on any deal….

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that there had been understandings reached with North Korea on in-depth verification of the denuclearization process, and a lot of other issues related to it, that weren’t written explicitly in the official document shown to the public.

Pompeo also talked about the length of the disarmament process, saying the US wants to see major parts of the disarmament done in the next two or two and a half years. President Trump has long said he expected denuclearization to happen in phases.

The time-frame likely reflects US political realities, with the administration hoping that they can have major progress to show off to the voters during the 2020 presidential election. Pompeo added that Trump would restart the frozen wargames with South Korea if North Korea stopped showing good will in the process.

(antiwar.com)

That would be fantastic if a deal could be finalized….as long as South Korea is at the table and agrees to the deal .

As a foreign policy wonk I see this as a chance for a true diplomatic break through……as much as I hate to admit it it does smell like some small beginning of sanity in our foreign policy…..

President Trump gave peace a chance like few presidents before him, and if his critics cannot respect that fact, shame on them. What he and the hawks around him have done is as profound a shift in U.S. foreign policy as it is unexpected in its departure from an America-centric view of the world.

At the heart of this bold initiative is an openness to the wisdom and concerns of other nations, beginning with the government of South Korea but including most definitely the insights of the leaders of neighboring China, Russia and Japan. It is a break with the demonization of the North Korean enemy in the spirit of Richard Nixon’s opening to Communist China, which effectively ended the Cold War.

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/a-victory-for-sanity-in-world-politics/

Now maybe we can work on the G7 and NATO…..a good beginning but it must continue…..the world is waiting.

But wait!  What about those interventionists like John Bolton?  Where will they be standing during this time of sanity?  Trump should worry more about these toads than the media for they are already working to derail the deal.

Critics and pundits have been reacting dismissively to President Donald Trump’s engagement with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. A few weeks ago Donald Trump was going to start World War III with the Korean peninsula’s “Rocket Man,” or so observers said. Now, the prospect for peace, which has never been formally codified by treaty with North Korea since 1953, seems to have critics equally vexed and upset.

Yet, hoping for peace to fail in order to prevent Trump from gaining a victory is to engage in precisely the type of behavior his critics accuse him of displaying.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/06/13/a-blow-to-interventionists-as-us-and-north-korea-move-toward-peace/

So much to do and so little time…..and the clock is ticking…..

What Are The “Summit” Successes?

Let’s be honest….no matter what the next move for these two countries….this meeting was a success….and I admit that I fell for the head fake by Trump….this meeting was always going to happen all the drama was just that drama to build the audience for public consumption…after all the mid terms are just months away.

In the end, diplomacy can work – as a process, not an event. There is no Big Bang theory of nuclear diplomacy. If no further progress is made toward peace on the Korean peninsula, all this – the back-and-forth, the Moon-Kim meetings, the Singapore summit itself – is at worst another good start that faded. It is more likely, however, a turning point.

It is easy to announce a morning-after defeat for Trump: to criticize the agreement as vague and lacking in specific commitments regarding denuclearization. But those critics ignore Kim’s moratorium on nuclear and ballistic missile testing, the return of American prisoners, the closing of a ballistic missile test site, and the shutting down of a major nuclear test facility without opening a new one. It is easy to forget that a few months ago North Korea was still testing nuclear devices to spark fears of a dark war. Calling the Singapore summit a failure in light of more detailed agreements and different efforts from the past ignores the reality that all of those past agreements failed.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-vanburen-northkorea-commentary/commentary-whatever-happens-next-the-trump-kim-summit-is-a-win-idUSKBN1J82A4

The “Summit” is over and I found a piece written by a visiting fellow to the Atomic Scientists…..

The summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un is an historic event that could only happen once in several decades. It is the culmination of a 27-year-old diplomatic effort to resolve North Korea’s nuclear problem. But what are its prospects for success? How do we even define “success” (or failure)? What are the two most likely scenarios for a happy outcome? And what recommendations can we make, to help translate the most-desired scenarios into reality?

These are all very knotty questions. To even begin to answer them, we first must look to the past.

https://thebulletin.org/how-measure-success-or-failure-trump-kim-summit11893

Keep in mind these are the insights of a scientist not of myself……this “summit” did what it was suppose to do….it controlled the media for over 48 hours……

Was it a success….that would depend on what was considered a success….