World View: North Korea Suffers Diplomatic Defeat as Trump Cancels Summit

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends the first congress of the country's ruling Workers' Party in 36 years, in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo taken by Kyodo May 9, 2016. Kyodo/via REUTERS
Kyodo/via REUTERS

This morning’s key headlines from

  • North Korea suffers diplomatic defeat as Trump cancels summit
  • China prepares to station thousands of troops in South China Sea

North Korea suffers diplomatic defeat as Trump cancels summit

Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump
Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump

In my opinion, Thursday’s cancellation of the planned June 12 summit meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s child dictator Kim Jong-un is a major diplomatic disaster for Kim.

Two weeks ago, when talk of the summit meeting was still in the Pollyannaish honeymoon stages, I wrote “13-May-18 World View – Likely outcome of Trump-Kim North Korea summit: Mutual recriminations and accusations.” I gave a list of reasons, but the main reason was that the core objectives of the U.S. and North Korea were in conflict and could not be reconciled or compromised. These conflicting objectives are:

  • North Korea will not give up its nuclear missile development, having tortured, starved, and brutalized their own population for three decades, under the promise that one day North Korea would be a nuclear power on a peer with the United States. North Korea will not give up its objective of having an arsenal of nuclear missiles targeting the United States. In my opinion, if Kim Jong-un seriously wanted to give up nuclear development, he would be shot and killed by his own generals.
  • As stated many, many times in 2017, by many administration officials, the Donald Trump administration will not permit North Korea to develop a nuclear weapon that can target the United States mainland.

These are incompatible core objectives that cannot be resolved except by military action. The Trump administration has made numerous promises in the hope of getting North Korea to denuclearize – promises that Kim Jong-un would be safe and remain in power, promises that sanctions would be lifted, promises that enormous aid would pour into North Korea, making the country economically equivalent to South Korea. Kim would get all that simply be denuclearizing which, in my opinion, will never happen except with military action.

So given those realities, what have the North Koreans been up to these last few weeks? In my opinion, they have had one and only one objective: Use diplomacy to force the Trump administration to lift the sanctions, while continuing nuclear weapons and missile development.

They have succeeded in this objective several times in the last three decades, most recently in 2008. They committed to ending nuclear weapons development and even blew up a nuclear cooling tower to prove it. The Bush administration accepted their promises and agreed that all sanctions should be lifted. The sanctions were lifted, and North Korea immediately resumed nuclear weapons development. They completely humiliated and diplomatically defeated the United States and the Western world. It was a total North Korea diplomatic victory of enormous proportions.

So every step that North Korea has taken in this year has been with only one objective: To repeat the diplomatic victory of 2008, to get the sanctions lifted, while continuing nuclear weapons and missile development.

The Trump administration has outplayed North Korea at every stage:

  • North Korea held a massive charm offensive during the Seoul Olympics games. The U.S. let it play out, repeatedly saying that it is nice but North Korea has to denuclearize.
  • North Korea proposed a summit meeting between Kim and Trump. This was a negotiating ploy. Kim does not want a summit, because they have no intention of denuclearizing.
  • Trump immediately accepted the summit with no preconditions. In my opinion, this was an enormous shock to North Korea and an enormous diplomatic defeat for them, because they never believed that Trump would accept. This was a major example of how Trump’s negotiating skills exceed those of the isolated North Koreans.
  • They put on a show on Thursday of dismantling the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, located in Mount Mantap, but this was an empty gesture, since the test site was no longer usable, anyway.
  • For weeks, North Korea has shown all signs of being in a state of total panic over the summit. They have made ambiguous statements about denuclearization, they canceled a planning meeting with South Korea, they canceled a planning meeting with Americans, and in the last two weeks they have completely abandoned the charm offensive and returned to full-fledged bellicose and offensive anti-American rhetoric.
  • In my opinion, they used bellicose, offensive anti-American rhetoric in a last-ditch attempt to incite Trump to return to the same kind of bellicose “little rocket man” language, so that Kim could claim that Trump did not want peace.
  • The second major diplomatic disaster for North Korea, in my opinion, occurred on Thursday, when Trump announced in very polite, diplomatic language that the summit could not be held in view of North Korea’s behavior and rhetoric, but that it might be held at a later time.

The letter that Donald Trump sent to Kim Jong-un on Thursday was, in my opinion, a negotiating masterpiece:

Dear Mr. Chairman:

We greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore. We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant. I was very much looking forward to being there with you. Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place. You talk about nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.

I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters. Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you. In the meantime, I want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated. If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write. The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history.

This letter has left North Korea in a desperate diplomatic position. They had hoped to use diplomacy to force Trump to agree to lift the sanctions. They proposed a summit meeting that they did not want, but it was accepted anyway. They tried to sabotage the summit meeting, but that backfired and they are receiving the blame for the canceled summit meeting. Now they have to try something else.

Trump’s cancellation of the summit meeting was another negotiating ploy, with the purpose of gaining a negotiating advantage. It is not the end of the story. The North Koreans are already issuing conciliatory statements, looking to gain the moral high ground after Trump’s cancellation. It is still possible that the summit meeting will be held. But the two core irreconcilable objectives that I listed at the beginning of this article are still in place. CNN and White House and KCNA

Related Articles:

China prepares to station thousands of troops in South China Sea

Satellite imagery has revealed that China has built hundreds of buildings on the artificial island that China has created illegally on Subi Reef in the South China Sea. This is on top of existing military infrastructure that includes emplacements for missiles, runways, extensive storage facilities, and a range of installations that can track satellites, foreign military activity, and communications. Analysts say that the buildings could house 1500-2400 troops.

This revelation occurs just a few days after China announced that it has begun landing bombers on the artificial islands it created in the South China Sea, in preparation for the Battle of the South China Sea.

And that announcement came just two weeks after China deployed offensive cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea.

The Pentagon on Thursday withdrew an invitation for China to take part in the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Drill, the world’s biggest multinational naval drill, scheduled for this summer. The purpose of the drill is to help build cooperation among nations, and China was invited to take part in the last two drills, in 2014 and 2016.

The Pentagon withdrew China’s invitation this time because China’s activities in the South China Sea “raise tensions and destabilize the region.” Sputnik and Business Insider and South China Morning Post

Related Articles:

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, North Korea, Kim Jong-un, Punggye-ri, Mount Mantap, China, South China Sea, Subi Reef, Rim of the Pacific drill
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