Archive for the ‘Trump and South Korea’ category

South Korean President: You Know Who Deserves “Big Credit” For Panmunjom Talks, Right?

January 10, 2018

South Korean President: You Know Who Deserves “Big Credit” For Panmunjom Talks, Right? Hot Air, Ed Morrissey, January 10, 2018

Wait — Moon Jae-in can’t mean the man who is going to get us all nuked, can he? Well, yes, that’s precisely what South Korea’s president means. After opening the first talks with North Korea in over two years, Moon told reporters that Donald Trump deserves “big credit” for forcing the Kim regime to the table with a fresh strategy of hardball from the US (via Jake Tapper):

South Korean President Moon Jae-in credited U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday for helping to spark the first inter-Korean talks in more than two years, and warned that Pyongyang would face stronger sanctions if provocations continued. …

Seoul and Pyongyang agreed at Tuesday’s talks, the first since December 2015, to resolve all problems between them through dialogue and also to revive military consultations so that accidental conflict could be averted.

“I think President Trump deserves big credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks, I want to show my gratitude,” Moon told reporters at his New Year’s news conference. “It could be a resulting work of the U.S.-led sanctions and pressure.”

Granted, Moon softens this with a conditional in the end, but it doesn’t keep him from providing the credit up front. Previous administrations seemed more content to kick the can down the road, especially the Obama administration, which kept up sanctions but kept trying to downplay the crisis. Thanks to that approach, other players were able to shrug off the North Korean crisis, especially China.

Trump has taken a different tack; he is acting as though the crisis were present, which it is and has been for some time now. Trump has increased the pace and reach of sanctions to the point where North Korea now has very few avenues for trade on critical commodities such as fuel and food. Trump’s belligerence has forced China into action to try to bring its obstreperous client under some form of control. The disruption even forced Moon, who ran as an appeaser looking to dial down tensions, into deploying the THAAD systems he had opposed during his campaign.

Besides the fact that it reflects reality, Moon’s credit sets the table for an eventual US-North Korea negotiations, one expert tells Reuters:

Lee Woo-young, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said it was wise of Moon to praise Trump, his sanctions and pressure campaign.

“By doing that, he can help the U.S. build logic for moving toward negotiations and turning around the state of affairs in the future, so when they were ready to talk to the North, they can say the North came out of isolation because the sanctions were effective.”

At this point, direct negotiations are the only path left to avoid another armed conflict. Trump has said he would consider that option if the conditions were right, although Kim Jong-un has so far balked at the idea until he achieves nuclear parity with the US. This week’s talks could provide a short-cut to a settlement, but don’t expect Trump to take his foot off the gas pedal until those talks become a reality. He’s getting pretty good mileage right now out of his foreign policy toward the Korean Peninsula, and Moon corroborates that.

This makes Andrew Malcolm’s latest column on Trump’s foreign policy and general productivity look prescient:

Trump’s tweets at North Korea’s “little Rocket Man” draw instant media attention, even igniting speculations on the president’s mental health. They reinforce a popular perception that this president is a loose cannon, a perception he sometimes seeks and feeds with unorthodox presidential behavior and statements.

What doesn’t get reported so eagerly nor attributed to Trump’s presidency are puzzling positive developments: Economic growth exceeding three percent by Trump’s seventh month, unemployment falling to longtime lows, 1.84 million new jobs since Trump’s inauguration, confident stock markets soaring to all-time highs, new homebuilding up, dozens of large companies granting bonuses and wage hikes. Even Trump’s job approval was climbing at year’s end.

How can so many things be going so well with an unbalanced usurper in the Oval Office? …

These and other actions demonstrating freshened resolve abroad suggest when it comes to foreign policy, friends and foes alike would do well to note that Trump follows words with action.

They’re beginning to notice that in Pyongyang.

U.S., South Korea begin massive military drill in wake of North Korea missile launch

December 5, 2017

U.S., South Korea begin massive military drill in wake of North Korea missile launch, Washington TimesCarlo Muñoz, December 4, 2017

(China and Russia, not to mention Kim Jong-un, will not like it. Good.

— DM)

A U.S. Air Force EA-18G Growler fighter jet prepares to land at the Osan U.S. Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. Hundreds of aircrafts including two dozen stealth jets began training Monday

Among the various combat scenarios both forces are expected to play out during the weeklong drill, several will focus on “enemy infiltration and precision strike drills with South Korean jets,” Air Force officials told the Military Times.

Ahead of Monday’s kickoff of the U.S.-South Korea wargames, National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster warned that Pyongyang’s continued aggression on the peninsula was inching the region closer to war.

“I think it’s increasing every day, which means that we are in a race, really, we are in a race to be able to solve this problem,” Gen. McMaster said Sunday during a speech at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California.

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Over 200 American and South Korean warplanes took to the skies above the Korean peninsula on Monday in one of the largest military drills between the two allies in recent history and a massive show of force against the North Korean regime.

The annual exercise, dubbed Vigilant Ace, comes less than a week after Pyongyang carried out a successful test launch of its newest intercontinental ballistic missile. The test launch of the new Hwasong-15 weapon traveled longer and farther than any North Korean intercontinental missile to date.

The launch, carried out from a North Korean weapons facility in Sain Ni, forced Japanese officials to put the country’s northern provinces located along the missile’s trajectory on high alert.

The Nov. 6 missile test was further proof that the North Korean regime remains committed to the “effort to build a ballistic missile threat that endangers world peace, regional peace and threatens the United States,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said shortly after the missile test.

The Pentagon says the large-scale wargames between Washington and Seoul over the weekend were part of annual military drills routinely conducted between the allied nations. That said, the exercise featured several pieces of U.S. military hardware — such as the stealth-capable F-22A Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, as well as long-range B-1 bombers — that could be used in potential strikes against North Korean targets should war break out on the peninsula.

Among the various combat scenarios both forces are expected to play out during the weeklong drill, several will focus on “enemy infiltration and precision strike drills with South Korean jets,” Air Force officials told the Military Times.

Ahead of Monday’s kickoff of the U.S.-South Korea wargames, National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster warned that Pyongyang’s continued aggression on the peninsula was inching the region closer to war.

“I think it’s increasing every day, which means that we are in a race, really, we are in a race to be able to solve this problem,” Gen. McMaster said Sunday during a speech at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California.

Trump strikes at the heart of the North Korean regime with speech

November 8, 2017

Trump strikes at the heart of the North Korean regime with speech, Washington PostAnna Fifield, November 8, 2017

(Here’s a North Korean propaganda video from 2010. An attractive North Korean girl explains that life is wonderful in North Korea and far better than in South Korea or America. Some high-level members of the Kim regime, until they say or do something the Dear Leader considers insulting, may even live as well as the video suggests is common throughout the country.

President Trump’s full speech is available here. — DM)

 

It is hard to exaggerate the reverence with which North Koreans are forced to treat the Kim family. Every home and all public buildings must display portraits of Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong Il, that must be cleaned only with a special cloth. North Koreans must bow at monuments to the leaders and sing songs celebrating their supposedly legendary feats.

There is no escaping the Kims and the narrative that they have created a utopia that is the envy of the world.

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President Trump has said on several occasions that he’s willing to talk to the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Well, on Wednesday, Trump did — after a fashion.

The American president directly addressed his 33-year-old nemesis during his speech to South Korea’s National Assembly. This time, Trump didn’t call Kim “Little Rocket Man” or use the kinds of rhetorical flourishes that play so well on Twitter.

But the words that Trump used will have cut deeper because they strike at the very heart of the Kim regime. 

If there is one thing that Kim Jong Un has shown that he cannot tolerate, it’s personal criticism.

“North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned,” Trump said to Kim, who, if he was in Pyongyang, was just 120 miles away. “It is a hell that no person deserves.”

Kim Il Sung, who is revered like a god in North Korean propaganda, established the country in 1948 as a “socialist paradise” of free housing, health care, and education where people would want for nothing. Kim Jong Un claims his legitimacy to be the leader as the direct descendant of this quasi-deity.

Trump devoted a large part of his address to detailing the human rights abuses that the Kims have committed in North Korea, filling his speech with words like “twisted,” “sinister,” “tyrant,” “fascism” and “cult.”

“I wanted to stand up from my seat and shout ‘yahoo!’” said Lee Hyeon-seo, an escapee from North Korea who was sitting in the assembly hall Wednesday during Trump’s address. “We just don’t hear people talking about North Korea in this way in South Korea, so I was very emotional during the speech. I was very impressed.”

Trump noted the slave-like conditions that North Korean workers endure, the malnutrition among children, the suppression of religion, and the forced-labor prison camps where North Koreans endure “torture, starvation, rape, and murder on a constant basis.”

Other advocates for North Koreans expressed hope that Trump’s remarks would remind the outside world that the country is not just home to a dictator with nuclear weapons, but 25 million people who suffer under him.

“President Trump spoke about human rights in North Korea more than any other previous U.S. president,” Jeong Kwang-il, who was held as a political prisoner in North Korea and now runs the “No Chain for North Korea” human rights group in Seoul. “I’m hopeful that American policy toward North Korea will focus more on improving human rights there.”

The president did not mince his words about the way the Kim regime has managed to retain its grip on the populace.

“North Korea is a country ruled as a cult. At the center of this military cult is a deranged belief in the leader’s destiny to rule as parent protector over a conquered Korean Peninsula and an enslaved Korean people,” he said.

The success of South Korea discredited “the dark fantasy at the heart of the Kim regime,” Trump said.

It is hard to exaggerate the reverence with which North Koreans are forced to treat the Kim family. Every home and all public buildings must display portraits of Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong Il, that must be cleaned only with a special cloth. North Koreans must bow at monuments to the leaders and sing songs celebrating their supposedly legendary feats.

There is no escaping the Kims and the narrative that they have created a utopia that is the envy of the world.

So to suggest that the regime is founded on a “fantasy” and that the country is something other than a socialist paradise amounts to heresy in North Korea.

“This speech made the ‘axis of evil’ speech look friendly,” said John Delury, a professor of international relations at Yonsei University in Seoul, referring to President George W. Bush’s 2002 State of the Union speech, in which he included North Korea as a country seeking weapons of mass destruction.

“That sent a signal to Pyongyang that the Americans are not open to changing their relationship with North Korea and that the president was deeply hostile and ideologically hostile to them.”

But others saw an opening from Trump, with his suggestion there was a way out of the current quagmire. “Despite every crime you have committed against God and man … we will offer a path to a much better future,” Trump said, saying that this would require total denuclearization.

The president publicly offered a “diplomacy exit ramp” to the Kim regime, Victor Cha, tipped to be Trump’s nominee for ambassador to South Korea, wrote on Twitter.

At a press conference with South Korean president Moon Jae-in the previous day, Trump urged North Korea “to come to the table” and “do the right thing, not only for North Korea but for humanity all over the world.”

At recent meetings near Geneva and in Moscow, Pyongyang’s representatives have signaled an interest in talks with the United States — as long as those talks are not about denuclearization, a non-starter for Washington.

The regime in Pyongyang is likely to react angrily to Trump’s speech.

After Trump threatened at the U.N. General Assembly in September to “totally destroy” North Korea and mocked Kim as “Rocket Man,” Kim took the unprecedented step of releasing a statement in his own name, calling Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” who would “pay dearly” for his threats.

At the same time, North Korea’s foreign minister said the country might detonate a nuclear device over the Pacific.

A U.N. Commission of Inquiry once charged that the blame for North Korea’s human rights abuses went all way to the top of the leadership, leading to calls for Kim Jong Un to be referred to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

That prompted North Korean officials to respond publicly to questions about human rights conditions in a way they had not before — a clear attempt to defend the dignity of their leader.

“North Korea tends to react sensitively to criticism in human rights,” said Cheong Seong-chang, director of the unification strategy program at the Sejong Institute, a private think tank in South Korea.

He predicted that the response would be especially sharp because of the time that Trump spent talking about North Korea and the detail he went into, plus the president’s repeated calls for the world to isolate the country.

“North Korea is highly likely to take Trump’s address as a declaration of war and call for a holy war of its own against the U.S.,” Cheong said.

Yoonjung Seo in Seoul contributed reporting.

 

 

Trump’s Biggest Challenge in Seoul

November 7, 2017

Trump’s Biggest Challenge in Seoul, American Thinker,  Daren Jonescu, November 7, 2017

There is no equivalency here. North Korea’s hostilities are their essence, not a product of outside provocation, real or imagined. Anything they do will be on their own heads, as will any destruction that gets unleashed upon them due to their actions. Theirs is a regime that has no moral legitimacy, and hence, while no one is obliged to do anything about that, neither does anyone owe their rule, their aspirations, or their tender feelings any respect.

The only moral considerations that have any weight in this issue are related to whether annihilating Kim’s national death camp — inherently justifiable — is worth the risk it may bring to the lives of other nations’ citizens.

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Donald Trump is in South Korea today.  All focus, of course, is on whether Trump and recently-elected Korean president Moon Jae-in will present a unified position against North Korean aggression. Or let me restate that in words that make sense within the current zeitgeist: “a unified position on how to avoid an escalation of tensions with North Korea.”

In our worldwide progressive paradigm, suggesting that the problem to be solved here is the threat posed by a tyrannical rogue state’s immoral behavior is considered inflammatory. Rather, we are all supposed to pretend that North Korea is “a sovereign state” with “legitimate concerns about being threatened by the U.S. military presence in Asia,” and that its outrageous provocations, unprovoked violence, and frequent promises to annihilate its democratic enemies are merely “understandable responses to its increased global isolation.”

Demonstrators reacting to Trump’s visit

(Even many conservatives of the libertarian bent are wont to ask, “How would you feel if your neighbors were all discussing how to end your regime?” — as though rationalizing a killing machine’s sensitivities were anything but a moral absurdity.)

As for President Moon, a progressive appeaser in the mold of his old ally and boss, Roh Moo-hyun (of North-South “Sunshine Policy” fame), he may be a tough sell on taking a stronger stand against North Korea. He would likely accept the inevitable if necessary, however, especially since Japan has already signed onto America’s “all options on the table” position, and since China has remained largely aloof from the situation so far.

But President Moon probably will have to be dragged to a harder stance by events — a bizarre thing to have to say about the president of a nation that is technically at war with a communist madhouse dictatorship that tore his own country in half, has starved and enslaved millions of his countrymen, and has carried out repeated acts of murderous aggression against the South in recent years, in addition to its constant threats of all-out attack. Talk about Stockholm Syndrome.

But the depth of the moral problem facing this world — in which most governments, media voices, and academics are progressive in their underlying principles and perspective — may be seen in the sheer silliness with which people speak of what might cause an “escalation of hostilities” with North Korea.  Here is a perfect example, from Professor Koo Kab-woo at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. (Imagine the political perspective likely to prevail at a university with such a name.)

Addressing the concern that Trump might say or do something careless or bombastic during his South Korean trip, Professor Koo says, “If Trump says anything that can provoke North Korea, it could send military tensions soaring again.”

Right. North Korea is calm and trying to restore a peaceful coexistence. But what if Trump goes and blows it with a stupid remark?

You see, the tensions, whatever might have caused them (who can say?), have settled recently, but if they rise again due to Trump’s rhetoric during his visit to Seoul, then the resulting danger will be on America’s head for having “provoked” it.

This is a classic moral equivalency argument (and an excellent preview of exactly how China will respond if an armed conflict begins on the Korean peninsula): “Both sides need to calm down. If Nation A (the world’s oldest republic and traditional leader of the free world) causes things to escalate again by speaking too harshly, then Nation B (a bloody tyranny starving its own broken people and threatening the world with nuclear war) cannot be held solely responsible for the resulting rise in tensions.”

This is the same argument used for decades to frame the Cold War as a battle between “two noble experiments,” rather than between good and evil. It is the same argument used to equate the pro-Palestinian efforts by much of the Middle East (along with the UN and Europe and most of academia and the North American left) to wipe Israel off the map, to Israeli efforts to push back in defense of a nation the size of New Jersey.

Moral equivalency in international relations — “both sides are to blame,” or “both sides have understandable concerns” — is the last refuge of the morally bankrupt. In this case, expressing peevishness that somehow Donald Trump’s words might provoke North Korean hostilities is a convenient way of implying that North Korea is not inherently, essentially hostile to begin with, but rather that any hostility they display is merely a response to outside instigation. Thus, a tyranny is falsely portrayed as an equal participant in difficult diplomacy, rather than a victim of its own obsession with power and destruction. This in turn creates an aura of legitimacy around one of the most illegitimate regimes of modern times.

I myself have been critical of Trump’s often careless rhetoric on North Korea, but my concern has always been that by speaking too cavalierly, Trump risks tipping his administration’s hand unnecessarily, or painting himself into a strategic corner with Obama-like “red lines.” My concerns, in other words, are related to American interests, not North Korea’s “feelings.” Under no circumstances would I ever suggest Trump’s words or actions were to blame for North Korea’s behavior.

Similarly, appeasers like Moon Jae-in, who has used moral equivalency arguments against his own nation and yet has somehow been elected president under the guise of a “champion of the people” — reminiscent of Barack Obama in that regard, both in policy and in manner — exacerbate a national tragedy by emboldening a dictatorship. But by no means would I suggest such appeasers are to blame for the murderous aspirations of Kim Jong-un’s illegitimate regime.

North Korea is a brutal dictatorship with fantasies of eventually uniting the Korean peninsula under their communist bloodlust regime. They, and they alone, are to blame for their aggression; their aggression is not a response to anything, but rather their regime’s raison d’être.

Progressives constantly use moral equivalency arguments and moral relativism to obscure the crimes committed in the name of their death cult ideology. They have thereby obliterated an extremely proper and reasonable category of political discourse: illegitimate power.

In this age, any tyranny that survives long enough to become stable in its authority, or that exists as a protectorate of a bigger tyranny, is regarded as “sovereign,” in the sense of unassailable. The UN exists largely to reinforce and defend the “right” of unjust regimes to exist unchallenged, or to set strict limits on the conditions in which such regimes may be confronted by the so-called “international community.”

North Korea, under its current and permanent government, is not a sovereign nation. It is an illegitimate tyrannical regime, a state governed by men without even a pretense of concern for the well-being of their trampled population, which exists not at all as citizens, but rather as slaves, without any modicum or memory of self-determination or self-ownership.

To legitimize that regime by worrying about whether Donald Trump might say something to “raise tensions” is to miss the point. Tensions are permanent and unavoidable when a tyranny feels its power threatened. But tyrannies deserve to feel their power threatened, and in fact they always will. As Plato taught us long ago, the tyrannical man is the most frightened man in the world, for he lives in the knowledge that his power is not deserved, and that everyone hates him for it. He cannot sleep at night, because he cannot even trust his own guards, or his own brother.

But today, we are told not to speak too loudly, lest we disturb the tyrant’s sleep and make him angry, as if we would be to blame if our would-be killer’s anger were roused. Thus, progressives defend one of their own — an extreme and ridiculous one to be sure, but one of them nonetheless — with moral equivalency arguments.

There is no equivalency here. North Korea’s hostilities are their essence, not a product of outside provocation, real or imagined. Anything they do will be on their own heads, as will any destruction that gets unleashed upon them due to their actions. Theirs is a regime that has no moral legitimacy, and hence, while no one is obliged to do anything about that, neither does anyone owe their rule, their aspirations, or their tender feelings any respect.

The only moral considerations that have any weight in this issue are related to whether annihilating Kim’s national death camp — inherently justifiable — is worth the risk it may bring to the lives of other nations’ citizens.

Daren Jonescu lives in South Korea where he writes about politics, philosophy, education, and the decline of civilization at http://darenjonescu.com/.

South Korean President: Trump’s ‘Very Strong Speech’ Will ‘Help Contain North Korea’

September 21, 2017

South Korean President: Trump’s ‘Very Strong Speech’ Will ‘Help Contain North Korea’, Washington Free Beacon , September 21, 2017

 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed his support Thursday for President Donald Trump’s stance on North Korea’s nuclear program, indicating it will be effective to help contain its Northern neighbor.

At a meeting in New York City, Trump and Moon focused on responding to the North Korean regime’s development of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles. During the discussion, the South Korean president said, through an interpreter, that he is satisfied with Trump’s firm approach toward the North Korean regime and leader Kim Jong Un.

“North Korea has continued to make provocations and this is extremely deplorable and this has angered both me and our people,” Moon said. “But the United States has responded firmly and in a very good way and because of this I also believe that we have very close coordination between Korea and the United States and because of this I am very satisfied.”

Trump joked about the interpreter using “deplorable,” a word Hillary Clinton famously used during the election to describe Trump’s supporters.

Moon specifically praised Trump’s speech at the U.N., saying it will “help contain North Korea.”

“Mr. President, in the U.N. general assembly you made a very strong speech and I believe that the strength of your speech will also help contain North Korea,” Moon said. “Thank you very much.”

Trump’s initial words emphasized his cooperation with Moon and other allies in Asia.

“We are meeting on a constant basis,” Trump said. “We’ll be meeting in a little while also with Prime Minister Abe of Japan and that will be a tri-meeting, so we will see. But, I think we’re making a lot of progress in a lot of different ways. Stay tuned.”

Trump made a point to say North Korea was the more important issue, but also referred to ongoing negotiations regarding the United State’s trade deal with South Korea.

“We are on a very friendly basis working on trade and working on trade agreements and we’ll see how that all comes out,” Trump said. Later he remarked that the current deal has been “so bad for the United States and so good for South Korea.”

“We’re going to try to straighten out the trade deal and make it fair for everybody,” Trump said shortly before going into a meeting with Moon and Abe. “But our real focus will be on the military and our relationship with South Korea, which is excellent, really excellent.”

Moon also emphasized that he has spoken with Trump regularly about the Kim regime situation. He did not address trade deals.

“Mr. President, I have met with you several times and have also had many telephone conversations with you, and because of this I am becoming more and more familiar with you,” Moon said.

Trump also announced an executive order to bring new sanctions against countries who trade with North Korea.

South Korea, U.S. to scrap warhead weight limit on South Korean missiles: Blue House

September 4, 2017

South Korea, U.S. to scrap warhead weight limit on South Korean missiles: Blue House, ReutersChristine Kim, September 4, 2017

South Korea said earlier in the day it was talking to the United States about deploying aircraft carriers and strategic bombers to the Korean peninsula after signs North Korea might launch more missiles.

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SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump agreed on Monday to scrap a warhead weight limit on South Korea’s missiles in the wake of North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, South Korea’s presidential office said.

In a separate phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin also on Monday, Moon said the U.N. Security Council should seek ways to sever North Korea’s foreign currency income, including from its workers employed abroad and oil shipments.

Under the existing missile pact between the United States and South Korea, Seoul’s warheads currently face a cap of 500 kg (1100 lb).

The agreement, last amended in 2012, was in the process of being changed in the wake of a series of missile tests by North Korea this year after Moon took office in May, including two intercontinental ballistic missile launches.

An unlimited warhead weight allowance would enable the South to strike North Korea with greater force in the event of a military conflict.

The missiles would still be bound by a flight range cap of 800 km. No changes to the flight range were mentioned in the Blue House statement.

The two presidents made the decision in a phone call, a statement from the Blue House said. They also agreed to apply the strongest sanctions and pressure on North Korea through the United Nations.

Most analysts and policymakers agree cutting off the oil pipeline to North Korea would hurt its economy. It remains to be seen whether China, the North’s biggest ally and trade partner, would cooperate.

South Korea said earlier in the day it was talking to the United States about deploying aircraft carriers and strategic bombers to the Korean peninsula after signs North Korea might launch more missiles.