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Westlake Legal Group > North Korea

Waning of American Power? Trump Struggles With an Asia in Crisis

WASHINGTON — For two and a half years, President Trump has said he is finally doing in Asia what he asserts his predecessor, Barack Obama, failed to achieve with a strategic pivot: strengthen American influence and rally partners to push back against China.

But as violence escalates and old animosities are rekindled across Asia, Washington has chosen inaction, and governments are ignoring the Trump administration’s mild admonitions and calls for calm. Whether it is the internal battles in India and Hong Kong or the rivalry between two American allies, Japan and South Korea, Mr. Trump and his advisers are staying on the sidelines.

The inability or unwillingness of Washington to help defuse the flash points is one of the clearest signs yet of the erosion of American power and global influence under Mr. Trump, who has stuck to his “America First” idea of disengagement, analysts say.

“Without the steady centripetal force of American diplomacy, disorder in Asia is spinning in all sorts of dangerous directions,” said William J. Burns, a deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration and the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The net result is not only increased risk of regional turbulence, but also long-term corrosion of American influence.”

All American administrations have limited ability to steer events abroad. Foreign governments often ignore requests from the United States. Since 2001, the nation’s long wars, especially in Iraq, have cost it credibility. And the emergence of China as an economic powerhouse and Russia as an anti-Western force means factors outside the Trump administration are contributing to the weakening of American power.

But critics say Mr. Trump’s policies — more focused on cutting American expenses abroad than on building partnerships — have sped that erosion and emboldened governments to ignore entreaties from Washington.

Indian troops are suppressing protests in the contested region of Kashmir after New Delhi ended the territory’s autonomous status, despite Mr. Trump’s offer last month to India and Pakistan to mediate the decades-old dispute.

South Korea announced on Monday that it was dropping Japan from a list of preferred trading partners, ramping up a conflict that jeopardizes Washington’s most important alliances in Asia. Mr. Trump’s top foreign policy officials had advised both nations to settle their differences, to no avail.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159146631_4cea0c8b-c1e1-45aa-9753-8a9038ef35ba-articleLarge Waning of American Power? Trump Struggles With an Asia in Crisis United States International Relations United States Trump, Donald J South Korea Pakistan North Korea Kashmir and Jammu (India) Japan International Trade and World Market International Relations India Hong Kong Far East, South and Southeast Asia and Pacific Areas East Asia Demonstrations, Protests and Riots China

Mr. Trump and his top officials have failed to send any strong signals on the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests. CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

And Chinese officials said this week that Hong Kong protesters were starting to show the first signs of “terrorism” — an indication that the Communist Party in Beijing could order tougher measures to end the unrest, even after the Hong Kong police fired tear gas at crowds during the 10th weekend of protests.

Official Chinese news organizations are linking the Trump administration to the protests and labeled an American diplomat, Julie Eadeh, who met with student leaders, a “black hand.”

Tweeting on Tuesday that the Chinese were moving troops to the border with Hong Kong, Mr. Trump issued no warnings other than: “Everyone should be calm and safe!”

“The inability to manage the issues shows some real weakness in the president’s actual commitment to the strategy or any forward diplomatic engagement in Asia,” said Michael J. Green, a senior Asia director for the National Security Council under President George W. Bush.

Mr. Green, now a professor at Georgetown University, added that while the Trump administration was carrying out some useful strategies or tactics in Asia, “it is striking how ineffective the administration is on this Japan-Korea issue and how quiet on Kashmir.”

Though Mr. Trump has embraced a hands-off approach since he took office, some officials, including Matthew Pottinger, the senior Asia director on the National Security Council, have worked to formulate a big-picture strategy on Asia, with the aim of bolstering competition with China.

They have pledged to spend money on regional programs as part of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” strategy, increased the rate of freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea and started a campaign to try to persuade nations to ban the use of communications technology from Huawei, the Chinese company.

But critics say Mr. Trump weakens the American position through continual acts of self-sabotage, including abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade agreement that Mr. Obama had forged to create a united front against China.

Mr. Trump also lavishes praise on East Asia’s authoritarian leaders — he said that he and Kim Jong-un of North Korea “fell in love,” and that he and Xi Jinping of China “will always be friends.”

So far, he and his top officials have failed to send any strong signals on the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests. On Aug. 1, Mr. Trump employed the language used by Communist Party officials when he said Hong Kong has had “riots for a long period of time.”

“Somebody said that at some point they’re going to want to stop that,” he added. “But that’s between Hong Kong and that’s between China, because Hong Kong is a part of China.”

Analysts said those comments would be interpreted by Chinese officials as a green light to take whatever action necessary to quell the protests.

Mr. Trump said in June that the United States and China were “strategic partners,” and the administration has held back from taking certain actions that would upset Beijing — notably, imposing sanctions on Chinese officials for the mass detentions of Muslims and approving the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan.

Mr. Trump’s main goal with China has been to reach a trade deal to end the costly tariff war, though the two sides have escalated the dispute after failed talks, leading to stock market turmoil.

Mr. Trump has also stood back during the intensifying feud between South Korea and Japan. On Friday, Mr. Trump said, “South Korea and Japan have to sit down and get along with each other.”

Administration officials say they do not want to be a mediator in the dispute, even though American security interests in the region could suffer — especially if Seoul and Tokyo end an intelligence-sharing agreement supported by Washington that is intended to help with North Korea containment. In late July, John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, called both sides to ask them to freeze their hostilities, and Mr. Pompeo made the same request of their foreign ministers at a summit in Bangkok.

South Korean and Japanese officials are ignoring the Americans. On Monday, Seoul said that not only was it ending a preferential trading partnership with Tokyo, but it was also naming Japan as the first nation on a new list of countries deemed to have bad export practices. Earlier this month, Japan announced that South Korea was no longer a preferred trading partner.

“By failing to act and assume leadership in the region, Trump is allowing nations with long, complicated histories to fall back into traditional rivalries,” said Jean H. Lee, a Korea expert at the Wilson Center.

“The more these nations feel the United States is an unreliable partner,” she added, “the more they will feel compelled to defend themselves. I’m already starting to hear growing calls in South Korea for their own nuclear weapons.”

In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pushed ahead with what appears to be a yearslong plan by Hindu nationalist politicians to control Kashmir, a majority-Muslim region.

Some Indian analysts say Mr. Modi might have accelerated the move because of remarks made by Mr. Trump after his meeting last month with Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan. Mr. Trump said that Mr. Modi had asked Mr. Trump earlier if he could mediate the Kashmir dispute. “If I can help, I would love to be a mediator,” Mr. Trump said.

That is a position welcomed by Pakistan, while India opposes outside involvement. India’s Ministry of External Affairs denied that Mr. Modi had any such conversation with Mr. Trump. Then on Aug. 5, the Indian government revoked Kashmir’s special status and began arresting top Kashmiri politicians — a complete rejection of Mr. Trump’s offer of mediation.

“There’s more the United States should do,” Asad Majeed Khan, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, said in an interview on Monday. “The United States is perhaps the only country that can make a difference.”

John J. Sullivan, the deputy secretary of state, is traveling to India this week for meetings planned before the outbreak of the Kashmir crisis. It is unclear what he will say. Mr. Burns, his predecessor, said, “Modi’s India seems unfazed by any American concerns over the potential for escalation.”

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Did Kim Jong-un really apologize to Trump?

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As you have likely heard already, North Korea fired off two more short-range missiles into the ocean over the past week or so. This comes just as the United States moves forward with previously planned military exercises with South Korea, no doubt annoying dictator Kim Jong-un. The missile launches have no doubt put some strain on the “special relationship” that President Trump has been attempting to foster with North Korea’s tyrant, but yesterday he announced that he had received a “beautiful” three page letter from Kim, including a “small apology” for the missile tests and assurances that they would be ending soon. (Associated Press)

[Trump] says he’s looking “forward to seeing Kim Jong Un in the not too distant future!”

Trump is tweeting more details from the “beautiful” three-page letter he told reporters Friday he’d received.

Trump said Saturday from his New Jersey golf club that Kim spent much of his letter complaining about “the ridiculous and expensive exercises.” He says that Kim offered him “a small apology” for the flurry of recent short-range missile tests that have rattled U.S. allies in the region and that Kim assured him they would stop when exercises end.

Since we’re not being shown the letter we’re left to guess about some of the details. To be clear, I don’t think world leaders are obligated to immediately release every private message they share with each other, though they should be preserved and made public when all potential security concerns are behind us. (That even applies when you’re telling another world leader that you’ll have “more flexibility after the election,” but the responsibility for making sure your mic is off is on your shoulders.) Still, it would be interesting to know just what Kim had to say.

The idea of Kim writing a letter is nothing shocking so I’m confident he really sent one. Complaints about the military exercises are also no surprise since Kim has been very public in his denunciations of them. But did he really offer a “small apology?”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Kim wouldn’t mind apologizing, or at least saying something that might be interpreted as an apology, as long as he could do it in private. He still very much wants all of the sanctions lifted, as well as maintaining a desire to be treated like a legitimate international figure on the world stage. But he couldn’t afford to be seen apologizing in front of his own people since that might be perceived as weakness, so I doubt news of this letter will make it onto North Korea’s state news agency coverage.

With all that in mind, I’m inclined to take the President at his word about this. If the missile tests end after our joint military exercises conclude, we’ll be back to the recent status quo. It’s not a perfect situation and thus far hasn’t done anything to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, but it’s better than mushroom clouds erupting every six months I suppose.

The post Did Kim Jong-un really apologize to Trump? appeared first on Hot Air.

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North Korea missile launches: Dear Leader’s temper tantrum?

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Or just a return to the status quo ante? Despite Donald Trump’s attempts to reset the relationship between Pyongyang and Washington via personal diplomacy, North Korea has returned to conducting missile testing, albeit only short-range ballistic missiles at the moment. In the wake of new launches this morning, NBC’s Richard Engel tells Today that it’s a product of Kim Jong-un’s “frustration” over a lack of progress in talks:

In part, however, this is a reaction to upcoming joint US-South Korea military exercises, which is another return to the status quo ante. Just as the US had unilaterally dispensed with joint military exercises, the North had halted its missile testing. Now they’re both back, at least tentatively:

North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles early on Wednesday, the South Korean military said, only days after it launched two similar missiles intended to pressure South Korea and the United States to stop upcoming military drills.

The firings follow launches on July 25, North Korea’s first missile tests since leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump met on June 30 and agreed to revive stalled denuclearization talks. …

Later on Wednesday, state news agency KCNA repeated calls for the United States and South Korea to end their “hostile” joint drills, but did not mention the missile launches.

“It is a prerequisite for improving the inter-Korean relations and ensuring peace on the Korean peninsula to call an overall and permanent halt to anti-North war drills, the root cause of confrontation and war,” it said in a commentary.

Moves by the United States and South Korea to rename the approaching exercises were simply double-dealing that proved “confrontational maniacs remain unchanged in their black-hearted intention to stifle” North Korea by force, it added.

This is a chicken-egg argument. North Korea started testing missiles before the announcement of the joint exercises, even after Trump flew to the DMZ and encouraged Kim to meet him there in friendship. The Hanoi summit turned out to be a bust for Kim, who wanted — perhaps needed? — some sanctions relief as an outcome without giving up much of anything, but until Pyongyang started launching missiles, the door was still somewhat open.

One has to wonder whether Kim isn’t coming under pressure himself. He might be getting trapped by extreme hardliners who don’t want any kind of rapprochement with the US and ultimately want a forced reunification under the Kim regime. Or Kim might be coming under pressure from China, which could use a bargaining chip in the trade war with the US to win some concessions for more cooperation on the Korean situation.

At any rate, this looks a little more complex than just a temper tantrum. The return to the posturing of pre-2017 hints that what appeared to be a promising thaw might have been nothing more than a brief fluctuation in a long-frozen conflict.

The post North Korea missile launches: Dear Leader’s temper tantrum? appeared first on Hot Air.

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Analysts: North Korea has ramped up production of nuclear material, missiles during diplomacy with Trump

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The “denuclearization” effort seems to be having rather the opposite effect.

Analysts who pore over satellite images of the isolated country paint a different picture: North Korea’s scientists have ramped up production of long-range missiles and the fissile material used in nuclear weapons…

Analysts at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency say North Korea’s scientists may have produced 12 nuclear weapons since the first Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore last year. In total, Pyongyang could currently possess between 20 and 60 nuclear bombs, according to estimates by various security analysts.

The evidence is circumstantial, as satellite surveillance always is, but watch below as the WSJ makes its case. North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear facility does appear to be humming along with activity. Which isn’t surprising, is it? The NorKs have suspended missile testing while the U.S. has scaled back military exercises with South Korea, but America continues to wield its big club, sanctions. Go figure that the NorKs are keeping their big club in hand too.

Plus, cranking out new nuclear bombs is North Korea’s way of buying more chips for its eventual negotiations with the U.S. A year ago they might have been expected to surrender, say, 30 bombs in exchange for major U.S. concessions. What can they get a year later in return for 40 bombs instead?

Having the NorKs arm up while Kim gladhands Trump at the DMZ is embarrassing for the White House, but in Trump’s defense, what’s the alternative? If he’s not willing to see the Korean peninsula laid waste, persisting with halting top-level diplomacy while the regime quietly increases its nuclear advantage over its neighbors is the only option. I doubt anyone in the administration believes at this point that the U.S. can intimidate North Korea into denuclearizing; Trump’s two summits with Kim are the best evidence yet that we’ve committed to a containment strategy with the North, with the White House possibly focused now on limiting Kim’s intercontinental reach than on limiting his nuclear supply. The NorKs have already tested missiles capable of reaching the U.S. but it’s unclear what sort of nuclear warhead they might carry and even whether the missiles could survive reentry into the atmosphere from orbit. If Trump could convince Kim to destroy his long-range missiles while retaining his weapons in return for sanctions relief, which would leave Japan and South Korea but not the United States under threat, would he go for that? America First!

If he did, would anything be left of America’s Far East alliances?

North Korea fired two short-range missiles into the sea just yesterday to show Trump that they’re impatient with negotiations. Three days ago they threatened to end the moratorium on missile tests, upping the ante; if Kim resumed long-range tests, lord only knows how Trump would respond. You can understand, though, why Iran would be reluctant to sit down with Trump as it watches this all play out. What has the North gained from diplomacy besides a shot of prestige for Kim in having the president of the United States’s undivided attention? Sanctions on North Korea have remained in effect throughout, and Iran doesn’t have the same thirst for legitimacy via a summit photo op as North Korea does since it enjoys relations already with most other countries in the world. What Trump could do to try to entice Iran to the table is lift some sanctions on North Korea preemptively as a reward for their willingness to talk, signaling to Iran that the path to relief from their own sanctions depends on them chatting with him first. But then he’ll be attacked by hawks here for weakness, and he’ll need a concession from Kim in return in order to save face. It’s unthinkable that he’d phase out some sanctions purely as a goodwill gesture, without reciprocation. I think that’s what he’ll end up doing — limited sanctions relief in return for some NorK concession packaged with arrangements for a third summit. Then it’ll be up to Iran to reach out.

Exit question: Based on everything that’s happened, if Iran wants a heart-to-heart with Trump, they should probably start building their own nuclear weapons, right? That’s the incentive scheme here.

The post Analysts: North Korea has ramped up production of nuclear material, missiles during diplomacy with Trump appeared first on Hot Air.

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Rocketman returns: North Korea fires two missiles

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North Korea is testing out two kinds of missiles. The launches happened along the eastern coast of North Korea early this morning – something which appears to have seriously alarmed South Korea. Reuters reports the United Nations could get involved, too.

The South’s National Security Council said it believed the missiles were a new type of ballistic missile but it would make a final assessment with the United States.

Firing a ballistic missile would be a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban the North from the use of such technology. North Korea has rejected the restriction as an infringement of its sovereign right to self-defense.

North Korea launched the missiles from the east coast city of Wonsan with one flying about 430 km (267 miles) and the other 690 km (428 miles) over the sea. They both reached an altitude of 50 km (30 miles), an official at South Korea’s Defense Ministry said.

Some analysts said the North appeared to have retested missiles it fired in May, but two South Korean military officials said the missiles appeared to be a new design.

Those expecting the UN to actually do something shouldn’t start holding their breaths.

It is extremely interesting to see these launches happen shortly after or during National Security Adviser John Bolton’s visit to South Korea for talks with their government. Bolton tweeted his talks with South Korea went well but has yet to make a statement regarding the North Korean tests. South Korea has spoken with the U.S. and Japan. Even China made a statement on the launches with Reuters reporting they want the U.S. and North Korea to get back to the negotiating table.

The tests are being characterized as posturing by North Korea in hopes of getting more concessions during negotiations. Voice of America – the United States government-funded news entity – essentially suggested it was a failure of diplomacy by President Donald Trump.

It has been less than a month since Trump shook hands with Kim at the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas — a meeting White House officials portrayed at the time as a breakthrough.

Since then, North Korea has not responded to U.S. requests to begin working-level negotiations. Instead, the North has continued escalating provocations and threats, in what analysts say is an attempt to improve its negotiating position.

Last week, North Korea’s foreign ministry hinted Pyongyang could forego the talks and may resume intercontinental ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests if the United States and South Korea go ahead with planned joint military exercises…

The provocations are a reminder that North Korea is taking advantage of the stalled talks to continue developing its nuclear and weapons programs, despite Trump’s insistence that talks are progressing.

“The Kim regime likely times these tests for international signaling purposes, applying political pressure on the U.S. and South Korea in an effort to get more for less in future negotiations,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

“This contrast raises questions about North Korean intentions,” Easley said. “Kim’s plan appears to be keeping his country relatively closed and nuclear armed, while pocketing any political or economic benefits on offer.”

North Korea is definitely taking a harder line, which seems odd given the ‘great friendship’ Trump claims to have with Kim. A source told Reuters a planned meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a top North Korean official at a conference in Thailand is off. This appears to be Kim trying to please someone, possibly the military, to keep himself in power.

The solution isn’t going to be easy, especially if North Korea keeps this posturing. America should be willing to open up trade with Kim because it can encourage freedom in the long run. People have to remember the Chinese – for all of their claimed adherence to Mao – are slowly, but surely liberalizing their economy (even if their human rights record is atrocious). A flow of American capital into North Korea could give everyone, from those in the palace to those in the slums, the chance to better their lives through commerce. It won’t happen as quickly as we’d like to see it happen, but the alternatives are either the current situation or war. No one should want the latter, while the former isn’t working at all.

The post Rocketman returns: North Korea fires two missiles appeared first on Hot Air.

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How Chairman Kim got his limo on

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Being dictator of the world’s most isolated country can be an expensive proposition. That’s the bad news.

The good news is it’s not your money, so you can do whatever you want wherever you want whenever you want. As long as you execute some people now and then to keep all the others in line.

North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jung-un has about a dozen different housing compounds of multiple acres, the better to keep would-be assassins uncertain of his exact whereabouts.

He has several city housing compounds. For these hot summer days, he has his own luxurious beach resort to get away from the boredom of luxurious city life. And, of course, a 200-foot luxury yacht to toodle up and down his country’s seacoast.

He also has a luxury remodeled Russian jet, though Kim seems to prefer railroad travel. Naturally, he had private railroad stations built next to a half dozen of his homes.

Dennis Rodman, the former NBA player who became Kim’s friend, recalls the ocean house is on an island “like going to Hawaii or Ibiza, but he’s the only one that lives there. He’s got 50 to 60 people around him all the time, just normal people, drinking cocktails and laughing the whole time.

“If you drink a bottle of tequila, it’s the best tequila,” Rodman adds. “Everything you want, he has the best.” Never mind those starving among his 24 million countrymen.

The next thing is, how do you get around safely? Any decent dictator needs a good limo, at least one, preferably armored. Obviously, from his prep school days in Switzerland, Kim knows the most luxurious is Mercedes.

The problem is this American president who thinks he can negotiate the nuclear weapons and missile programs away from Kim. Donald Trump has slapped some tough economic sanctions on North Korea and convinced other countries to go along.

This makes it seemingly impossible to acquire things like luxury Mercedes limos and get them to the top half of the North Korean peninsula where traffic is never a problem. Impossible just takes a little longer in today’s world of leaky sanctions.

The Wall Street Journal’s Timothy Martin did some reporting and produced a fascinating story on how Kim got his two $500,000 limos around Trump’s sanctions. The cars’ circuitous travels (Subscription) mirror similar routes for acquiring luxury items like name brand clothing, iPhones, liquor and designer cosmetics.

Kim has a wife, which can be a dangerous occupation in that country. South Korean newspapers reported a former Kim girlfriend was executed by firing squad. And years ago his grandmother was found dead in the family garden having stabbed herself in the back several times.

Last summer the cars set off on a 41-day sea journey from the Netherlands to China and then to Japan to Russia. Four months after departure, they showed up in Russia where some North Korean state planes ferried them to Pyongyang.

There, come January, Kim was spotted riding around in a modified Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman Guard car. Then, last month he was able to shepherd China’s President Xi Jinping along a jubilant Pyongyang parade route in appropriate dictator style.

The post How Chairman Kim got his limo on appeared first on Hot Air.

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New York Times Claims With Zero Proof That Trump Will Let Kim Jong Un Keep Nuclear Weapons

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President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walk on the North Korean side in the Demilitarized Zone, Sunday, June 30, 2019, at Panmunjom. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Yesterday, President Trump became the first US president to cross into North Korea when he met briefly with Kim Jong Un at Panmunjom. Whether you think this was real or a photo opportunity, a couple of things were indisputable. The meeting occurred based on personal diplomacy on the part of Trump. The meeting was a first of its kind. North Korea has not tested a ballistic missile or nuke in nearly two years. Sanctions against North Korea are now more robust in scope and in enforcement than at anytime the past several decades.

One would think that anyone who doesn’t want war on the Korean Peninsula would be in favor of Winston Churchill’s maxim of “jaw-jaw is better than war-war.” But that doesn’t seem to be the case. There seems to be a substantial stream of thought within diplomatic circles that war with North Korea is, indeed, preferable to no war occurring and Donald Trump getting some credit for either the reduction in hostilities or, heaven forfend, an actual diplomatic breakthrough. Here is an example of a person or persons within the State Department attempting to torpedo Trump’s diplomatic efforts by painting them as caving to Kim.

But for weeks before the meeting, which started as a Twitter offer by the president for Mr. Kim to drop by at the Demilitarized Zone and “say hello,” a real idea has been taking shape inside the Trump administration that officials hope might create a foundation for a new round of negotiations.

The concept would amount to a nuclear freeze, one that essentially enshrines the status quo, and tacitly accepts the North as a nuclear power, something administration officials have often said they would never stand for.

It falls far short of Mr. Trump’s initial vow 30 months ago to solve the North Korea nuclear problem, but it might provide him with a retort to campaign-season critics who say the North Korean dictator has been playing the American president brilliantly by giving him the visuals he craves while holding back on real concessions.

While the approach could stop that arsenal from growing, it would not, at least in the near future, dismantle any existing weapons, variously estimated at 20 to 60. Nor would it limit the North’s missile capability.

The administration still insists in public and in private that its goals remain full denuclearization. But recognizing that its maximalist demand for the near-term surrender of Mr. Kim’s cherished nuclear program is going nowhere, it is weighing a new approach that would begin with a significant — but limited — first step.

From the good ol’ NeverTrump right:

And from the Obama alumni:

Notice anything similar?

Here are two themes that permeate all reporting on the subject.

1. Kim will not give up his nuclear arsenal. How do we know this? We don’t. We know he won’t/can’t give it up under current circumstances–both internally and externally–but we don’t know what circumstances would convince him to do so. The same geniuses that convinced themselves that their god-king could woo the Iranian mullahs into agreeing to put aside their nuclear and territorial ambitions and become a good-faith partner in the Middle East are now trying to convince us that yes, they can actually distinguish their ass from a hot rock.

2. Trump is a naif in search of adulation who is being played by wily Kim. Nothing. I say again, nothing in Kim’s foreign policy indicates that either he or his advisers have any sophistication or even a sense of how little anyone in the West not called South Korea thinks about them. There is no doubt that Kim does have a game here. Ideally, he’d like to trade meetings for relaxed sanctions. Unfortunately for him, the rejection of Trump, from his friends and enemies, would be nearly universal and immediate if he did so. Kim actually has a greater need of the meetings with Trump for his own domestic consumption. Trump undoubtedly likes the notoriety of meeting with Kim because, I suspect, of the people who befoul themselves but there’s no evidence that he’s willing to go back on a position he’s unambiguously staked out.

While we have no idea of the source(s) for the NYT piece, we do have two on-the-record comments.

On Sunday evening, the State Department’s envoy to North Korea, Stephen E. Biegun, said that this account of the ideas being generated in the administration was “pure speculation” and that his team was “not preparing any new proposal currently.”

“What is accurate is not new, and what is new is not accurate,” he said.

John Bolton has weighed in:

Taken in its most favorable light, the source for this is a loser who is very happy to lose. It is someone who really believes that Kim has outmaneuvered this president, just like all presidents before him, and that our best bet is to try to save some face by agreeing to give the North Koreans what they want under the fig leaf of a “freeze” that can no more be verified than can anything else in North Korea today.

If you take it at its most cynical, it is simply an attempt to undercut the Administration by giving their enemies at home and abroad aid and comfort. It is trying to damage Trump domestically by insisting, in absence of all evidence, that the administration is not serious about ridding North Korea of nukes and it is trying to give Kim hope that by holding out he’ll get rid of sanctions and keep his nukes.

The underlying assumptions in this article are simply at odds with the facts. If meeting with Kim makes him more secure at home, he has a greater ability to cut a deal that will be opposed by a large swath of the North Korean ruling elite and that is good. Every day that passes under sanctions, the North Korean government grows weaker and is less able to pursue whatever douchebaggery it would otherwise be up to, that is also good. If we are talking we aren’t shooting, also a big plus. Needless to say, this in not a timed event. Either a deal will materialize or it will not. The worst possible course for the Trump administration would to be cutting a deal with the DPRK locking in their ability to deliver nuclear weapons to the United States after abrogating an deal that ostensibly kept Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Trump knows this. His advisers know this. His enemies here and abroad know this.

The post New York Times Claims With Zero Proof That Trump Will Let Kim Jong Un Keep Nuclear Weapons appeared first on RedState.

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Trump Officials Are Split Over Approach to North Korea Talks

WASHINGTON — As President Trump reveled in his historic weekend stroll into North Korea, administration officials were sharply at odds on Monday over what demands to make of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, while preparing to restart negotiations on a nuclear deal.

Pushing an internal debate into the open, John R. Bolton, the national security adviser and the most prominent hawk in the administration, reacted angrily to a report in The New York Times about the possibility of a deal to effectively freeze North Korea’s nuclear activity in return for American concessions.

Some officials are considering a freeze as a first step toward a more comprehensive agreement for Mr. Kim to give up his entire nuclear program. Mr. Bolton has long insisted that the North Koreans dismantle their nuclear program and give up their entire arsenal of warheads before getting any rewards.

“This was a reprehensible attempt by someone to box in the president,” Mr. Bolton wrote on Twitter. “There should be consequences.”

But some senior administration officials have been discussing the idea of an incremental approach under which North Korea would first close down its nuclear facilities to prevent it from making new fissile material, in effect freezing its program but leaving its existing arsenal in place.

In exchange, the Americans would make some concessions that would help improve the living conditions in North Korea, which is under heavy sanctions, or strengthen relations between Washington and Pyongyang.

Among those considering such ideas are senior diplomats, say people familiar with the discussions.

Mr. Trump, eager to burnish his self-constructed image as a dealmaker in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, appears open to embracing a step-by-step process. Mr. Trump did not publicly mention full denuclearization during his hour at the border between the two Koreas on Sunday or after talks with South Korean leaders.

In April, during a visit to the White House by President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, Mr. Trump signaled that gradual concessions by both sides might be necessary.

“There are various smaller deals that could happen,” he said. “You could work out step-by-step pieces, but at this moment, we’re talking about the big deal. The big deal is we have to get rid of nuclear weapons.”

American officials involved in North Korea policy assert, even in private, that the administration’s long-run goal has been consistent all along: to have Mr. Kim, with whom Mr. Trump met at the border on Sunday, give up all of his nuclear weapons and the ability to build more.

In the short run, Mr. Trump’s public comments — and the showmanship of going to the Demilitarized Zone and stepping over a low concrete barrier to walk with Mr. Kim on his soil — is another sign of the limited influence of Mr. Trump’s most hard-line advisers. Mr. Bolton was not at the meeting in North Korea but on a scheduled trip to Mongolia. Last month, Mr. Trump at the last minute rejected Mr. Bolton’s urging for a military strike on Iran.

On Monday, after Mr. Bolton made his statement, Mr. Trump spoke effusively on Twitter about his weekend trip to the Koreas without disputing the possibility of a step-by-step approach. “While there, it was great to call on Chairman Kim of North Korea to have our very well covered meeting,” he tweeted. “Good things can happen for all!”

Mr. Trump has given Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responsibility for restarting negotiations, which had stalled after a failed February summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim.

It was the second time the two had met, and Mr. Trump at the time had insisted that Mr. Kim give up his entire nuclear program, including an estimated 30 to 60 warheads, in exchange for sanctions relief.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157241079_ca340044-8697-4dd4-ae34-82c45ea8497e-articleLarge Trump Officials Are Split Over Approach to North Korea Talks Yongbyon (North Korea) United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J State Department Pompeo, Mike Obama, Barack Nuclear Weapons North Korea Korean Demilitarized Zone Kim Jong-un Embargoes and Sanctions Bolton, John R Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, met Sunday on the North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Mr. Bolton and Mr. Pompeo had both urged the president to settle for nothing less than a grand deal, but Mr. Pompeo now appears open to considering a gradual approach.

The State Department declined to comment on Monday. On Sunday night, Stephen E. Biegun, the United States’ special representative for North Korea, told The Times that its account of the ideas being discussed in the administration were “pure speculation” and that his team was “not preparing any new proposal currently.”

Some analysts said any approach must start with the United States and North Korea committing to a common definition of denuclearization. Without an ironclad definition, there is greater risk the North Koreans could back out of an interim deal, as they have done under previous American administrations, they said.

“There’s a myriad of ways that North Korea can pull it back,” said Jung H. Pak, a former C.I.A. analyst who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

For months after the meeting in Hanoi, there was no senior-level contact between Washington and Pyongyang, then Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim exchanged letters.

That paved the way for Mr. Trump’s Twitter post from the G20 summit in Japan on Saturday, in which he said he would like to see Mr. Kim during a scheduled visit Sunday to the Demilitarized Zone, on the border between the two Koreas, to shake Mr. Kim’s hand and to “say Hello(?)!”

Mr. Pompeo and other officials scrambled to organize for a potential meeting. Mr. Trump asked Mr. Pompeo to accompany him to the heavily guarded border village of Panmunjom, along with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, his eldest daughter and his son-in-law. Mr. Bolton notably flew to Mongolia instead. “Delighted to be in Ulaanbaatar,” he said on Twitter above a photograph of him smiling with the country’s secretary of state, Davaasuren Damdinsuren.

Though Mr. Pompeo is often aligned with Mr. Bolton on an aggressive approach to national security issues — Mr. Pompeo has also advocated a strike on Iran — the secretary of state is acutely attuned to Mr. Trump’s desires and has tried diplomacy with the North Koreans when commanded by the president.

In interviews and talks in recent weeks, Mr. Pompeo has not mentioned his earlier insistence that North Koreans must first turn over a complete list of nuclear assets, which some experts say is a necessary first step to establishing baselines for full denuclearization.

Administration officials say Mr. Biegun has been trying to come up with creative ways to get North Korea to at least agree with the Americans on a common definition of denuclearization and to start the process of shutting down its program. American intelligence officials have assessed that Mr. Kim will probably never give up all of his nuclear weapons.

That is where serious consideration of a step-by-step process comes in.

In January, during a speech at Stanford University, Mr. Biegun signaled that American negotiators might be willing to push off the demand for an inventory of nuclear assets and engage in a more gradual process. “Sequencing always confounds negotiators,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s grand-deal gambit in Hanoi upended that thinking. But that summit’s failure has left the door open for other ideas. Negotiators are back at a new starting line, essentially the same place they were after Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim’s first summit, held in Singapore in June 2018.

Doing a yearslong gradual process with a freeze on activity as the initial goal would amount to tacit acceptance of North Korea as a nuclear state. But American officials in both the White House and State Department say sanctions would not be lifted until North Korea completely gets rid of its nuclear weapons and its program. That includes the five sets of sanctions imposed by the Obama and Trump administrations starting in 2016 that North Korean officials say they most want the United States to cancel. In Hanoi, Mr. Kim made this demand of Mr. Trump.

For now, American officials might consider allowing more robust humanitarian aid to enter North Korea or some limited economic exchanges between the North and South, which under Mr. Moon has been pushing forward on an inter-Korean peace process. The two sides could also open interests offices in each other’s capitals.

In the approaches under consideration, those concessions would happen only if North Korea agrees to halt all its uranium enrichment — not only at Yongbyon, the central site of its nuclear program, but also at Kangson, another site known to American officials.

American intelligence officials also suspect there may be a third site, say experts on North Korea’s nuclear program.

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Split Emerges in Administration Over Approach to North Korea Talks

WASHINGTON — As President Trump reveled in his historic weekend stroll into North Korea, administration officials were sharply at odds on Monday over what demands to make of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, as they prepared to restart negotiations on a nuclear deal.

Pushing an internal debate into the open, John R. Bolton, the national security adviser and the most prominent hawk in the administration, reacted angrily to a report in The New York Times about the possibility of a deal to effectively freeze North Korea’s nuclear activity in return for American concessions.

Officials are considering a freeze as a first step toward a more comprehensive agreement for Mr. Kim to give up his entire nuclear program. Mr. Bolton has long insisted that the North Koreans completely dismantle their nuclear program and give up their entire arsenal of warheads before getting any rewards.

“This was a reprehensible attempt by someone to box in the president,” Mr. Bolton wrote on Twitter. “There should be consequences.”

But some senior administration officials have been discussing the idea of an incremental approach under which North Korea would first close down its nuclear facilities to prevent it from making new fissile material, in effect freezing its program but leaving its existing arsenal in place.

In exchange, the Americans would make some concessions that would help improve the living conditions of North Korea, which is under heavy sanctions, or strengthen relations between Washington and Pyongyang.

Among those considering such ideas are senior diplomats, say people familiar with the discussions.

Mr. Trump, eager to burnish his self-constructed image as a dealmaker in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, appears open to embracing a step-by-step process. Mr. Trump did not publicly mention full denuclearization during his hour at the border between the two Koreas on Sunday or after talks with South Korean leaders.

In April, during a visit to the White House by President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, Mr. Trump signaled that gradual concessions by both sides might be necessary.

“There are various smaller deals that could happen,” he said. “You could work out step-by-step pieces, but at this moment, we’re talking about the big deal. The big deal is we have to get rid of nuclear weapons.”

American officials involved in North Korea policy assert, even in private, that the administration’s long-run goal has been consistent all along: to have Mr. Kim, with whom Mr. Trump met at the border on Sunday, give up all of his nuclear weapons and the ability to build more.

In the short run, Mr. Trump’s public comments — and the showmanship of going to the Demilitarized Zone and stepping over a low concrete barrier to walk with Mr. Kim on his soil — is another sign of the limited influence of Mr. Trump’s most hard-line advisers. Mr. Bolton was not at the meeting in North Korea but on a scheduled trip to Mongolia. Last month, Mr. Trump at the last minute rejected Mr. Bolton’s urging for a military strike on Iran.

On Monday, after Mr. Bolton made his statement, Mr. Trump spoke effusively on Twitter about his weekend trip to the Koreas without disputing the possibility of a step-by-step approach. “While there, it was great to call on Chairman Kim of North Korea to have our very well covered meeting,” he tweeted. “Good things can happen for all!”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157241079_ca340044-8697-4dd4-ae34-82c45ea8497e-articleLarge Split Emerges in Administration Over Approach to North Korea Talks Yongbyon (North Korea) United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J State Department Pompeo, Mike Obama, Barack Nuclear Weapons North Korea Korean Demilitarized Zone Kim Jong-un Embargoes and Sanctions Bolton, John R Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, met Sunday on the North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Mr. Trump has given Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responsibility for restarting negotiations, which had stalled after a failed February summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim. It was the second time the two had met, and Mr. Trump at the time had insisted that Mr. Kim give up his entire nuclear program, including an estimated 30 to 60 warheads, in exchange for sanctions relief.

Mr. Bolton and Mr. Pompeo had both urged the president to settle for nothing less than a grand deal, but Mr. Pompeo now appears open to considering a gradual approach.

The State Department declined to comment on Monday. On Sunday evening, Stephen E. Biegun, the United States’ special representative for North Korea, told The Times that its account of the ideas being discussed in the administration were “pure speculation” and that his team was “not preparing any new proposal currently.”

Some analysts said any approach must start with the United States and North Korea committing to a common definition of denuclearization. Without an ironclad definition, there is greater risk the North Koreans could back out of an interim deal, as they have done under previous American administrations, they said. “There’s a myriad of ways that North Korea can pull it back,” said Jung H. Pak, a former C.I.A. analyst who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

For months after the meeting in Hanoi, there was no senior-level contact between Washington and Pyongyang, then Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim exchanged letters. That paved the way for Mr. Trump’s tweet from the G20 summit in Japan on Saturday, in which he said he would like to see Mr. Kim during a scheduled visit Sunday to the Demilitarized Zone, on the border between the two Koreas, to shake Mr. Kim’s hand and to “say Hello(?)!”

Mr. Pompeo and other officials scrambled to organize for a potential meeting. Mr. Trump asked Mr. Pompeo to accompany him to the heavily guarded border village of Panmunjom, along with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, his eldest daughter and his son-in-law. Mr. Bolton notably flew to Mongolia instead. “Delighted to be in Ulaanbaatar,” he said on Twitter above a photograph of him smiling with the country’s secretary of state, Davaasuren Damdinsuren.

Though Mr. Pompeo is often aligned with Mr. Bolton on an aggressive approach to national security issues — Mr. Pompeo has also advocated a strike on Iran — the secretary of state is acutely attuned to Mr. Trump’s desires and has tried diplomacy with the North Koreans when commanded by the president.

In interviews and talks in recent weeks, Mr. Pompeo has not mentioned his earlier insistence that North Koreans must first turn over a complete list of nuclear assets, which some experts say is a necessary first step to establishing baselines for full denuclearization.

Administration officials say Mr. Biegun has been trying to come up with creative ways to get North Korea to at least agree with the Americans on a common definition of denuclearization and to start the process of shutting down its program. American intelligence officials have assessed that Mr. Kim will most likely never give up all his nuclear weapons.

That is where serious consideration of a step-by-step process comes in.

In January, during a speech at Stanford University, Mr. Biegun signaled that American negotiators might be willing to push off the demand for an inventory of nuclear assets and engage in a more gradual process. “Sequencing always confounds negotiators,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s grand-deal gambit in Hanoi upended that thinking. But that summit’s failure has left the door open for other ideas. Negotiators are back at a new starting line, essentially the same place they were after Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim’s first summit, held in Singapore in June 2018.

Doing a yearslong gradual process with a freeze on activity as the initial goal would amount to tacit acceptance of North Korea as a nuclear state. But American officials in both the White House and State Department say sanctions would not be lifted until North Korea completely gets rid of its nuclear weapons and its program. That includes the five sets of sanctions imposed by the Obama and Trump administrations starting in 2016 that North Korean officials say they most want the United States to cancel. In Hanoi, Mr. Kim made this demand of Mr. Trump.

For now, American officials might consider allowing more robust humanitarian aid to enter North Korea or some limited economic exchanges between the North and South, which under Mr. Moon has been pushing forward on an inter-Korean peace process. The two sides could also open interests offices in each other’s capitals.

In the approaches under consideration, those concessions would only happen, though, if North Korea agrees to halt all its uranium enrichment — not only at Yongbyon, the central site of its nuclear program, but also at Kangson, another site known to American officials. American intelligence officials also suspect there may be a third site, say experts on North Korea’s nuclear program.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Why wasn’t John Bolton included in Trump’s Korea trip?

Westlake Legal Group t Why wasn’t John Bolton included in Trump’s Korea trip? Tucker Carlson Trump trip The Blog North Korea national security advisor Mongolia Kim Jong-un john bolton denuclearization

Is it common for the president’s National Security Advisor to skip a high-stakes summit involving nuclear diplomacy on the Korea peninsula and, just maybe, a brief meeting with North Korea’s supreme leader? Let’s ask an expert.

The media, and not just the U.S. media either, noticed Bolton’s absence:

As he made history Sunday by becoming the first United States president to cross the demilitarized zone into North Korea, Donald Trump was joined not by national security adviser John Bolton, but by Tucker Carlson. In some ways, the choice makes sense—the Fox News host has counseled the president in the past, apparently including urging him not to attack Iran, something Bolton had encouraged. It also makes sense that Trump wouldn’t want Bolton around; it’s no secret Pyongyang considers the hawkish national security adviser, who once called for a preemptive strike against North Korea, persona non grata. Trump’s attempt to continue nuclear talks, which broke down in February when he walked away from the negotiating table, surely stood a better chance without Bolton there.

But allowing Carlson to tag along—and banishing Bolton to Mongolia to “to consult with officials on regional security issues”—only added to the bizarre spectacle of the impromptu meeting which was, like much of Trump’s diplomacy with North Korea, more about pageantry than policy.

It’s true that the North Koreans despise Bolton and target him sporadically with propaganda, but foreign countries don’t dictate which advisors accompany the president on diplomatic visits. If need be, Trump could have brought Bolton along and asked him to hang back during the visit with Kim. It’s also true, as a Twitter pal reminded me, that Bolton wasn’t off playing golf this weekend while Trump was in Korea. He was in Mongolia, a nation eyed by the U.S. as a potential player in diplomacy with the NorKs. Maybe Bolton was chatting with them about hosting a third Trump/Kim summit. He might not have been excluded from the Korean denuclearization process, in other words, so much as he was working on a different arm of it.

But why couldn’t he have met with Mongolia’s leadership after the Korean summit? And how can we overlook the symbolism of Tucker Carlson accompanying Trump on his Korean rapprochement while the NSA was off in another country? Carlson has attacked Bolton viciously on his show lately, describing him amid the debate over war with Iran as a “bureaucratic tapeworm” who “live[s] forever in the bowels of the federal agencies, periodically reemerging to cause pain and suffering but never suffering himself.” (An odd criticism in Bolton’s case, as he spent more than a decade out of government before reemerging as Trump’s NSA — much of that time on, er, Fox News.) The Tucker narrative is that Trump is forever being tempted by the sirens of interventionism, with Bolton the demonic face of that effort. Trump seems to share that belief, allegedly telling a “confidant” last week of his advisors, “These people want to push us into a war, and it’s so disgusting.” Trump watches Carlson’s show regularly, of course, and he’s discussed Iran policy with him personally. To have Tucker on hand for the Kim meeting while Bolton is on assignment abroad reeks of a deliberate snub.

And so the question: Is Bolton being marginalized by the president? This tweet, about the NYT story that Jazz wrote about earlier, got some attention online this morning.

Maybe he’s right and the Times piece is the product of some disgruntled aides trying to force a nuclear freeze onto Trump’s menu of options on the peninsula. (The Times stood by its reporting, for what that’s worth.) But maybe Bolton, the National Security Advisor, is simply out of the loop of the president’s thinking. If so, it wouldn’t be the first time that Trump has soured on a top advisor and chosen to cut him out of his deliberations instead of firing him forthrightly. John Kelly, remember, was brought in as chief of staff with plans to serve as an absolute gatekeeper to the president. All requests for face time with Trump, even by Jared and Ivanka, would go through him. He’d attend all presidential meetings personally. “Discipline” was the West Wing’s motto at the start of the Kelly era. In less than a year, discipline had broken down so completely that Kelly was reportedly seen going to the gym in the middle of the day and telling friends that he didn’t care if Trump was impeached. And yet, he lingered. From Trump’s perspective, it seems, so long as Kelly wasn’t making too much trouble for him, it was easier for awhile just to keep him on staff and ignore him rather than fire him, endure another round of “White House in disarray” headline, and then have to go looking for a new chief.

Is that Bolton’s fate now? NSA in name only, a figurehead kept around to reassure hawks that they have a forceful voice inside the building while Trump charts a path for America’s future abroad with Fox News’s 8 p.m. guy? I’m thinking no: If Trump were to come out today and confirm that he’s considering a nuclear freeze with the NorKs, just as the Times said and Bolton denied, Bolton would have to resign on principle. It’s one thing to be marginalized, it’s another to look ridiculous.

Here’s Tucker sounding even more Tucker-y than usual yesterday on Fox.

The post Why wasn’t John Bolton included in Trump’s Korea trip? appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group t-300x153 Why wasn’t John Bolton included in Trump’s Korea trip? Tucker Carlson Trump trip The Blog North Korea national security advisor Mongolia Kim Jong-un john bolton denuclearization   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com