Posted tagged ‘Trump and North Korea’

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.

Secret Document Reveals China Covertly Offering Missiles, Increased Aid to North Korea

January 2, 2018

Secret Document Reveals China Covertly Offering Missiles, Increased Aid to North Korea, Washington Free Beacon, January 2, 2017

Chinese President Xi Jinping / Getty Images

CIA spokesmen had no immediate comment on the document that could not be independently verified.

A Chinese Embassy spokesman did not return emails seeking comment.

Former State Department intelligence official John Tkacik, a China affairs specialist, said the document appears genuine and if confirmed as authentic would represent “a bombshell” disclosure.

Tkacik told the Free Beacon the document, may be “evidence that China has no real commitment to pressuring North Korea to give up nuclear weapons, and indeed sees North Korean nuclear arms as an additional strategic threat to the United States, one that China can claim no influence over.”

“Reading between the lines, it is clear that China views North Korea as giving it leverage with the U.S., so long as the U.S. believes that China is doing all it can do,” Tkacik said.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said if the document is authentic, “it reveals China’s policy to be completely cynical and utterly detached from its publicly stated position.”

“The White House would have to react accordingly,” he added.

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China’s Communist Party adopted a secret plan in September to bolster the North Korean government with increased aid and military support, including new missiles, if Pyongyang halts further nuclear tests, according to an internal party document.

The document, labeled “top secret” and dated Sept. 15—12 days after North Korea’s latest underground nuclear blast—outlines China’s plan for dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue. It states China will allow North Korea to keep its current arsenal of nuclear weapons, contrary to Beijing’s public stance that it seeks a denuclearized Korean peninsula.

Chinese leaders also agreed to offer new assurances that the North Korean government will not be allowed to collapse, and that Beijing plans to apply sanctions “symbolically” to avoid punishing the regime of leader Kim Jong Un under a recent U.N. resolution requiring a halt to oil and gas shipments into North Korea.

A copy of the four-page Chinese-language document was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon from a person who once had ties to the Chinese intelligence and security communities. An English translation can be found here.

CIA spokesmen had no immediate comment on the document that could not be independently verified.

A Chinese Embassy spokesman did not return emails seeking comment.

Disclosure of the document comes amid reports China is continuing to send oil to North Korea in violation of United Nations sanctions, prompting criticism from President Trump. Trump tweeted last week that China was caught “red handed” allowing oil shipments to North Korea.

“There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korean problem if this continues to happen,” the president stated on Dec. 28.

Release of the classified internal document is unusual since China’s communist system imposes strict secrecy on all party policies. Exposure of the secret Central Committee directive could indicate high-level opposition within the party to current supreme leader Xi Jinping, who has consolidated more power than any leader since Mao Zedong.

China: Pressure on North Korea won’t work

China’s leaders, according to the document, concluded that international pressure will not force North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, estimated to be at least 20 warheads.

As a result, the Central Committee of the party directed its International Liaison Department, the organ in charge of communicating with foreign political parties, to inform Pyongyang of China’s continued backing.

The head of the Liaison Department, Song Tao, visited Pyongyang Nov. 17 and met with senior North Korean officials. North Korean state media did not provide details of the talks, other than to say issues of mutual concern were discussed.

The directive appears written in response to the United Nations Security Council resolution passed after the Sept. 3 North Korean nuclear test. Included among the resolution’s new sanctions are restrictions on oil and gas transfers, including a ban on transferring oil between ships in open ocean waters.

On the U.N. requirement to shut down oil and gas transfers from China to North Korea, the party document said after North Korean businesses in China will be closed under the terms of the latest U.N. resolution, “our country will not for the moment restrict Korea from entrusting qualified Chinese agencies from trade with Korea or conducting related trade activities via third countries (region).”

A directive ordered the Liaison Department to offer a promised increase in aid for “daily life and infrastructure building” and a one-time increase in funds for North Korea of 15 percent for 2018. Chinese aid will be then be increased annually from 2019 through 2023 by “no less than 10 percent over the previous year.”

The Chinese also promised the North Koreans that in response to calls to suspend all banking business with North Korea that the financial ban will “only apply to state-owned banks controlled by the central government and some regional banks.”

On military support, the document reveals that China is offering North Korean “defensive military construction” and “high level military science and technology.”

The weaponry will include “more advanced mid- and short-range ballistic missiles, cluster munitions, etc.,” the document said.

“Your department should at the same time seriously warn the Korean authority not to overdo things on the nuclear issue,” the document says.

“Currently, there is no issue for our country to forcefully ask Korea to immediately and completely give up its nuclear weapons. Instead, we ask Korea to maintain restraint and after some years when the conditions are ripe, to apply gradual reforms and eventually meet the requirement of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.”

Beijing to warn Kim of ‘punitive measures’

The document then directs the Liaison Department to warn that if North Korea insists on acting rashly, further punitive measures will be imposed on senior North Korean leaders and their family members.

The directive lists “requirements” for the Liaison Department to pursue, including informing the North Koreans of China’s “determination to protect the Korean government on behalf of the Central Committee of CPC.”

Liaison officials also were tasked with informing the North Koreans of promises of support and aid in exchange for Pyongyang making “substantial compromises on its nuclear issues.”

“According to the current deployment of world forces and the geographic position of the Korean Peninsula, to prevent the collapse of the Korean government and the possible direct military confrontation with western hostile forces led by the United States on the Korean Peninsula caused by these issues, our country, Russia, and other countries will have to resort to all the effective measures such as diplomatic mediation and military diversion to firmly ensure the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and to prevent ‘chaos and war,’ which is also the common position held firmly by our country, Russia, and others,” the report says.

The document states that if the United States “rushes to war” against North Korea, the conflict would have a huge impact on the political and economic state of the region and the world.

“At such a time, the security of Japan and (South) Korea can be hardly taken care of, especially the security of Seoul, the (South) Korean capital,” the document says.

“Also, our country, Russia, and others will absolutely not look on the chaotic situation on the Korean Peninsula without taking any action.”

The document states that China believes that “theoretically” western powers will not use military force to overthrow the Kim Jong Un regime to solve the nuclear issue.

“However, international provocations by Korea via repeatedly conducting nuclear tests has imposed huge international pressure on our country that is continuously accumulating and becoming unbearably heavy,” the document says.

‘Stern warning’ and ‘assurances’

The deal outlined in the document to be communicated to Pyongyang includes a “stern warning” combined with “related assurances to Korea at the same time.”

“That is, currently Korea will not have to immediately give up its nuclear weapons, that so long as Korea promises not to continue conducting new nuclear tests and immediately puts those promises into action, our country will immediately increase economic, trade, and military assistance to Korea, and will add or continue providing the following benefits,” the report states.

The first item then lists greatly increasing trade with North Korea to keep the government operating and to raise the living standard of North Koreans.

“As for products under international sanctions such as crude oil products (except for the related products clearly defined as related to nuclear tests), under the condition of fully ensuring domestic demand of Korea, we will only make a symbolic handling or punishment,” the Party document said.

Past document leaks have included party documents on decision making related to the 1989 military crackdown on unarmed protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square published in the 2001 book The Tiananmen Paper.

A more recent disclosure in October was the release of an internal Communist Party document  authorizing the Ministry of State Security, China’s civilian spy service, to dispatch 27 intelligence officers to the United States to “crush hostile forces.” That document was made public by exiled Chinese businessman-turned-dissident Guo Wengui.

Orville Schell, a China specialist who worked on the Tiananmen Papers, said he could not authenticate the document but said it has “an air of veracity.”

“The language in Chinese is spot on party-speak, and the logic of the argument would appear to be congruent with the current line and what is happening,” said Schell, director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society in New York.

Columbia University Professor Andrew Nathan also could not authenticate the document but said it looks genuine. “The typeface, layout, header, seal, vocabulary, and diction are all those of an official inner party document,” said Nathan who also worked on the Tiananmen papers.

Nathan said the document appeared to be a directive for International Liaison Department director Song Tao’s mission to Pyongyang two months later, and Beijing’s attempt to press North Korea to halt nuclear tests using a combination of incentives and warnings.

The Chinese language version uses some terms that reveal China’s contempt for North Korea, such as the term “ruling authorities” for the Kim regime, something Nathan said is an “unfriendly” tone.

Former State Department intelligence official John Tkacik, a China affairs specialist, said the document appears genuine and if confirmed as authentic would represent “a bombshell” disclosure.

Tkacik told the Free Beacon the document, may be “evidence that China has no real commitment to pressuring North Korea to give up nuclear weapons, and indeed sees North Korean nuclear arms as an additional strategic threat to the United States, one that China can claim no influence over.”

“Reading between the lines, it is clear that China views North Korea as giving it leverage with the U.S., so long as the U.S. believes that China is doing all it can do,” Tkacik said.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said if the document is authentic, “it reveals China’s policy to be completely cynical and utterly detached from its publicly stated position.”

“The White House would have to react accordingly,” he added.

Trump criticizes past N. Korea policies

Trump last week tweeted a video showing then-President Bill Clinton praising the 1994 Agreed Framework that Clinton said would freeze and ultimately dismantle the North Korean nuclear program.

The video also included a clip of Trump on NBC’s “Meet the Press” from 1999 urging action then to stop the North Korean nuclear program in its early stages.

Trump told the New York Times after the tweet he was disappointed China is secretly shipping oil to North Korea. “Oil is going into North Korea. So I’m not happy about it,” he said, adding that he has been “soft on China” for its unfair trade practices and technology theft.

“China has a tremendous power over North Korea. Far greater than anyone knows,” Trump said Dec. 28, adding that “China can solve the North Korea problem, and they’re helping us, and they’re even helping us a lot, but they’re not helping us enough.”

“If they don’t help us with North Korea, then I do what I’ve always said I want to do,” the president added. “China can help us much more, and they have to help us much more … We have a nuclear menace out there, which is no good for China, and it’s not good for Russia. It’s no good for anybody.”

The Trump administration has been signaling for months it is prepared to use military force against North Korea to rid the country of nuclear arms and missile delivery systems.

North Korea conducted several long-range missile tests in 2017 that U.S. officials have said indicate rapid progress toward building a missile capable of targeting the United States with a nuclear warhead.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Dec. 29 that he has drawn up military options for operations against North Korea.

“I don’t speculate, as you know, about future operations by our forces,” Mattis told reporters. “But with three U.N. Security Council resolutions in a row, unanimously adopted, each one has put significantly more pressure on the North Korean regime for its provocations, for its outlaw activities. I think you will see increased pressure. What form that pressure takes in terms of physical operations is something that will be determined by the Congress and government.”

Asked if the United States is closer to war with North Korea, Mattis said: “You know, I provide military options right now. This is a clearly a diplomatically led effort with a lot of international diplomatic support. It’s got a lot of economic buttressing, so it’s not like it’s just words. It’s real activities.”

China backs N. Korea as buffer zone

The party directive states that China regards North Korea as a strategic “buffer zone” needed to “fend off hostile western forces.” Ideologically, North Korea also is important to China in promoting its vision of “socialism with Chinese characteristics led by our Party” and identifying North Korea as “irreplaceable.”

According to the document, the Party regards the “continuity of the Korean government,” maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula and one of its unwavering goals.

“This issue is about the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the fundamental interests of our Party, our country, and all Chinese people,” the document concludes, adding that the department should quickly coordinate with the Foreign and Commerce Ministries and other agencies to develop an operational plan to implement the policy “to ensure the sense of responsibility, to strictly maintain related confidentiality, and to seriously accomplish the heavy tasks entrusted by the Central Committee of CPC.”

The document bears the seal of the General Office of the Communist Party Central Committee, the office in charge of administrative affairs. Copies were sent to the administrative offices of the National People’s Congress, State Council, and Central Military Commission.

The internal document states that the new policy toward the North Korean nuclear issue is based on consultations among key power organs within the ruling party, including the Central Committee and State Council, along with what was termed “the guiding spirit” of meetings held by the National Security Commission, headed by Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

“After research and assessment, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China decided to authorize your department to lead and organize the communication and coordination work with the Korean administration on its nuclear issues,” the document states.

Tillerson Walks Back Offer of Unconditional Talks With North Korea, Says Regime ‘Must Earn Its Way Back to the Table’

December 16, 2017

Tillerson Walks Back Offer of Unconditional Talks With North Korea, Says Regime ‘Must Earn Its Way Back to the Table’, Washington Free Beacon, December 15, 2017

 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday walked back his offer from earlier this week to have unconditional talks with North Korea, telling the United Nations Security Council that Pyongyang must “earn” the right to negotiate with Washington.

“As I said earlier this week, a sustained cessation of North Korea’s threatening behavior must occur before talks can begin. North Korea must earn its way back to the table,” Tillerson said at a special ministerial meeting at the U.N. Security Council. “The pressure campaign must and will continue until denuclearization is achieved. We will in the meantime keep our channels of communication open.”

Tillerson’s words were a noticeable shift from Tuesday, when he said at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. that the U.S. is “ready to have the first meeting without precondition.”

“Let’s just meet, and we can talk about the weather if you want,” Tillerson said at the think-tank event. “Talk about whether it’s going to be a square table or a round table, if that’s what you are excited about. But can we at least sit down and see each other face to face, and then we can begin to lay out a map, a road map of what we might be willing to work towards.”

Those comments received instant blowback from the White House.

Tillerson also reemphasized on Friday that the U.S. wants a diplomatic solution to the North Korean issue rather than a military one.

“We have been clear that all options remain on the table in the defense of our nation, but we do not seek nor do we want war with North Korea,” Tillerson said. “The United States will use all necessary measures to defend itself against North Korea aggression, but our hope remains that diplomacy will produce a resolution.”

America’s top diplomat said that North Korea remains the “greatest national security threat” to the U.S. and called on China and Russia to put greater pressure on Pyongyang.

“Upon taking office, President Trump identified North Korea as the United States’ greatest national security threat,” Tillerson said. “That judgment remains the same today.”

“Each U.N. member state must fully implement all existing U.N. Security Council resolutions,” Tillerson added. “For those nations who have not done so or who have been slow to enforce Security Council resolutions, your hesitation calls into question whether your vote is a commitment to words only, but not actions.”

Tillerson specifically called out Russia and China for cooperating with the North Korean regime.

“We particularly call on Russia and China to increase pressure, including going beyond full implementation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions,” Tillerson said. “Continuing to allow North Korean laborers to toil in slave-like conditions inside Russia in exchange for wages used to fund nuclear weapons programs calls into question Russia’s dedication as a partner for peace.”

“Similarly, as Chinese crude oil flows to North Korean refineries, the United States questions China’s commitment to solving an issue that has serious implications for the security of its own citizens,” he said.

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.

Will There Ever be an Accounting on North Korea?

November 29, 2017

Will There Ever be an Accounting on North Korea? Power Line,  John Hinderaker, November 28, 2017

(Someday perhaps, but first we need to deal with matters of real importance — who grabbed whose what, when, where and why? Will he, she or an entity who/which self-identifies as a cow be punished or will Antifa members and other social justice warriors prevail?

Here’s one of my favorite poems by Robert Burns. It has nothing to do with North Korea, its missiles or nukes. Instead, it focuses on matters of apparently more substantial contemporary importance.

Address to the Unco Guid,
Or the Rigidly Righteous.

My son, these maxims make a rule,
An’ lump them ay thegither:
The Rigid Righteous is a fool,
The Rigid Wise anither;
The cleanest corn that e’er was dight
May hae some pyles o’ caff in;
So ne’er a fellow-creature slight
For random fits o’ daffin.
Solomon. (Ecclesiastes vii. 16)
1.
O ye, wha are sae guid yoursel,
Sae pious and sae holy,
Ye’ve nought to do but mark and tell
Your neebours’ fauts and folly,
Whase life is like a weel-gaun mill,
Supplied wi’ store o’ water,
The heapet happer’s ebbing still,
An’ still the clap plays clatter!
2.
Hear me, ye venerable core,
As counsel for poor mortals
That frequent pass douce Wisdom’s door
For glaikit Folly’s portals:
I for their thoughtless, careless sakes
Would here propone defences —
Their donsie tricks, their black mistakes,
Their failings and mischances.
3.
Ye see your state wi’ theirs compared,
And shudder at the niffer;
But cast a moment’s fair regard,
What makes the mighty differ?
Discount what scant occasion gave;
That purity ye pride in;
And (what’s aft mair than a’ the lave)
Your better art o’ hidin.
4.
Think, when your castigated pulse
Gies now and then a wallop,
What ragings must his veins convulse,
That still eternal gallop!
Wi’ wind and tide fair i’ your tail,
Right on ye scud your sea-way;
But in the teeth o’ baith to sail,
It makes an unco lee-way.
5.
See Social-life and Glee sit down
All joyous and unthinking,
Till, quite transmugrify’d, they’re grown
Debauchery and Drinking:
O, would they stay to calculate,
Th’ eternal consequences,
Or – your more dreaded hell to state –
Damnation of expenses!
6.
Ye high, exalted, virtuous dames,
Tied up in godly laces,
Before ye gie poor Frailty names,
Suppose a change o’ cases:
A dear-lov’d lad, convenience snug,
A treach’rous inclination–
But, let me whisper i’ your lug,
Ye’re aiblins nae temptation.
7.
Then gently scan your brother man,
Still gentler sister woman;
Tho’ they may gang a kennin wrang,
To step aside is human:
One point must still be greatly dark,
The moving why they do it;
And just as lamely can ye mark
How far perhaps they rue it.
8.
Who made the heart, ’tis He alone
Decidedly can try us:
He knows each chord, its various tone,
Each spring, its various bias:
Then at the balance let’s be mute,
We never can adjust it;
What’s done we partly may compute,
But know not what’s resisted.

— DM)

Today North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that stayed airborne for close to an hour and flew farther than any previously tested by that country. Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters that the Kim regime now has the ability to hit “everywhere in the world basically.” And, of course, the regime has nuclear weapons.

Further:

The US believes Pyongyang may be able to put a miniaturized warhead on a missile sometime in 2018 — giving it the theoretical capability to launch a missile with a warhead atop that could attack the US.

President Trump inherited the North Korea mess. He told reporters today that North Korea “is a situation that we will handle.” I sincerely hope so, but I have no idea how. Is there any practical way to threaten Kim’s nuclear capability without endangering the 10 million people who live in Seoul, just 35 miles from the border with North Korea? Again, I have no idea.

The North Korea problem has been brewing for a long time. In 1994, the Clinton administration agreed to provide two nuclear reactors and deliver heavy fuel oil to North Korea in exchange for the country giving up its nuclear weapons program. The reactors were never built, but Kim nevertheless snookered Clinton, as North Korea accelerated rather than giving up its nuclear program.

Subsequently, American administrations have kicked the Korean can down the road. Most blameworthy was Barack Obama. Just a few months into Obama’s administration, the North Koreans detonated a series of nuclear devices. President Obama responded with a policy of “strategic patience,” a euphemism for doing nothing and hoping that disaster wouldn’t strike until he was out of office. This was classic Obama: as the increasingly insane North Korean regime drew ever closer to an offensive nuclear capability, he did nothing. Now President Trump is stuck holding the bag.

Millions of lives could be lost because of this feckless history. Meanwhile, our news media have mostly ignored the North Korea issue, preferring to obsess on Roy Moore’s purported 40-year-old failings, whether Press Secretary Sarah Sanders baked a Thanksgiving pie, Al Franken’s tortured meditations on how easy it is to grasp a woman’s bottom by accident, and so on. Will our inept reporters and editors ever bestir themselves to report on how Barack Obama and, to a lesser extent, his predecessors allowed the Kim regime to become such a threat to millions of human lives?

That’s a rhetorical question, of course. They certainly won’t do so if it would reflect badly on their party. Which it would. So don’t hold your breath, and pray that President Trump and his aides will find a way out of the mess that his predecessors helped to create.

Susan Rice Still in Denial Over Failed Tenure

November 15, 2017

Susan Rice Still in Denial Over Failed Tenure, FrontPage MagazineJoseph Klein, November 15, 2017

Evidently, Ms. Rice does not realize that it is unwise to engage in public shaming of the visiting president’s host on what the host considers to be a sensitive matter of inviolate national sovereignty that can be more candidly discussed in private. This is especially true when the visiting president is trying to secure the host’s cooperation on issues of more direct mutual concern such as North Korea.

Rice complains that President Trump failed to mention publicly any concern about the disputed South China Sea issue. Contradicting herself, she then criticizes President Trump further on in the same column for his “hubristic offer late in his trip to mediate China’s disputes with its neighbors in the South China Sea.” Offering to mediate a dispute would appear to show some concern that it be resolved peacefully.

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Susan Rice, former national security adviser and ambassador to the United Nations during the Obama administration, is at it again. Following up on her op-ed column in the New York Times last August in which she advised that we learn to “tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea,” Ms. Rice has written another op-ed column for the New York Times on November 14th entitled “Making China Great Again.”  Her thesis is that “Chinese leaders played Trump like a fiddle, catering to his insatiable ego and substituting pomp and circumstance for substance.” She argues that President Trump “welcomed a rote recitation of China’s longstanding rejection of a nuclear North Korea and failed to extract new concessions or promises.”

Ms. Rice speaks as if she were in the room during the private conversations between President Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping or had the kind of access to intercepted confidential communications she was used to having during her tenure as national security adviser. Alternatively, Ms. Rice may simply be projecting onto President Trump the failures of her own boss Barack Obama in his dealings with China. In any case, as she displayed in her previous column, Ms. Rice simply does not know what she is talking about.

For example, Ms. Rice complains that President Trump failed to mention publicly any concern about the disputed South China Sea issue. Contradicting herself, she then criticizes President Trump further on in the same column for his “hubristic offer late in his trip to mediate China’s disputes with its neighbors in the South China Sea.” Offering to mediate a dispute would appear to show some concern that it be resolved peacefully.

In any event, had Ms. Rice bothered to take a look at the White House’s detailed public read-out of the meetings between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, she would have found that the South China Sea issue was indeed discussed at some length: “President Trump underscored the critical importance of the peaceful resolution of disputes, unimpeded lawful commerce, and respect for international law in the East and South China Sea, including freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the sea, and raised concerns about militarization of outposts in the South China Sea.”

Evidently, Ms. Rice does not realize that it is unwise to engage in public shaming of the visiting president’s host on what the host considers to be a sensitive matter of inviolate national sovereignty that can be more candidly discussed in private. This is especially true when the visiting president is trying to secure the host’s cooperation on issues of more direct mutual concern such as North Korea.

Ms. Rice argues that there was not enough diplomatic preparation for the summit meeting between the two heads of state to yield anything worthwhile in substance. Again, she did not do her homework. Here for her edification is a relevant excerpt from the White House read-out that describes how China and the United States have structured their interactions since President Xi’s meeting last April with President Trump in Florida: “During their April meeting, the two presidents set up the United States-China Comprehensive Dialogue with four pillars: the Diplomatic and Security Dialogue; the Comprehensive Economic Dialogue; the Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity Dialogue; and the Social and Cultural Dialogue. Each of these dialogues have met since April, to prepare for President Trump’s state visit and produce meaningful results.”

Ms. Rice complains that “Mr. Trump showered President Xi Jinping of China with embarrassing accolades” and that “scenes of an American president kowtowing in China to a Chinese president sent chills down the spines of Asia experts and United States allies who have relied on America to balance and sometimes counter an increasingly assertive China.” That unsubstantiated assertion does not square with the warm reception and praise that President Trump received from the leaders of such allies as Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Australia during his trip. It is also curious that Ms. Rice would criticize pomp and ceremony surrounding a state visit involving a U.S. president and President Xi. After all, Barack Obama lavished President Xi with a star-studded formal White House state dinner and a 21-gun salute during the Chinese president’s visit to Washington in 2015. Also, when Ms. Rice laments that President Trump “hailed Mr. Xi’s consolidation of authoritarian power,” did she somehow forget Obama’s similar praise of President Xi in 2014?  “He has consolidated power faster and more comprehensively than probably anybody since Deng Xiaoping,” Obama said back then, referring to China’s leader from 1978 to 1992. “And everybody’s been impressed by his … clout inside of China after only a year and a half or two years.”

Then there is the North Korean crisis, upon which Susan Rice opines that President Trump failed to make any progress with President Xi. Ms. Rice had contributed to the worsening of the North Korea problem in the first place by helping to formulate and sell the flawed approach known as “strategic patience” that guided Obama’s feckless foreign policy in North Korea. In doing so, the Obama administration allowed China to continue doing business as usual with North Korea. That stopped under President Trump. Even before President Trump arrived in Beijing, he had managed to wrest more concessions from China regarding its dealings with North Korea than Obama had managed to do in eight years. President Trump’s “strategic impatience” has already paid off with new UN sanctions that even Ms. Rice had to concede in her August op-ed column were “especially potent, closing loopholes and cutting off important funding for the North.”

Since August, with the help of the able diplomacy of the current U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, the UN Security Council has unanimously imposed even tighter restrictions on exports to and imports from North Korea, as well as on North Korean workers continuing to live and work in other countries and earn foreign currency for use by the cash-starved North Korean regime. President Trump reportedly asked for even more stringent measures during his private talks in Beijing with President Xi that would increase China’s economic pressure on North Korea. Also, they discussed the full and strict implementation of all UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea passed to date, with which China has shown evidence of compliance.

By contrast, the Obama administration indulged itself with the fantasy that UN resolutions and multilateral or bilateral agreements on paper are an end unto themselves. Susan Rice boasts in her November 14th column, for instance, of what she called the “historic United States-China deal on climate change, which led to the Paris Agreement.” In reality, this 2015 deal was an example of how Chinese leaders played Obama like a fiddle.

China, the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases, promised only that its total carbon dioxide emissions would peak by 2030. Obama committed the United States to significant emissions cuts of 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, during the same period that China’s emissions would still be rising. Obama also committed to transfer many billions of dollars more of American taxpayers’ money to developing countries who have made meaningless, non-binding pledges that would do nothing to change the trajectory they were on anyway. The Paris Agreement that Susan Rice is so proud of drastically tied down only the developed countries’ fossil fuel use in the immediate future while picking their taxpayers’ pockets at the same time. President Trump wisely pulled the plug on the U.S.’s involvement in a massive give-away to bribe the so-called developing nations to play along with a feel-good “universal” agreement.

Susan Rice is using the platform provided her by the New York Times to criticize President Trump for one main reason. She sees President Trump’s attempt to confront the issues head-on that his predecessor repeatedly glossed over as an attack on the Obama administration’s ‘legacy.’ What she is defending, however, is a failed foreign policy and misnamed “National Security Strategy” her office issued in 2015. In her November 14th op-ed column, she provides a checklist of all the problems she says President Trump should have addressed with China’s president, many of which he did. However, there is no self-assessment of all the missed opportunities during the Obama administration to move the ball forward on any of these problems, particularly North Korea.

President Trump is willing to make hard choices if he is convinced that in the end they will advance America’s vital national interests and the welfare of the American people, which he values above all else. This is very refreshing after experiencing eight years of Obama’s and Rice’s ‘leading from behind,’ ‘strategic patience,’ apologies for past U.S actions, and muddled thinking.

Will Trump’s Greatest Triumphs Be in Foreign Policy?

November 8, 2017

Will Trump’s Greatest Triumphs Be in Foreign Policy? PJ MediaRoger L Simon, November 7, 2017

(Please see also, Trump strikes at the heart of the North Korean regime with speech. Here is a video of President Trump’s address to the South Korean National Assembly:

— DM)

Of course, it is highly unlikely that the president will get the deranged Kim to back down.  (The media, in its smug majesty, keeps repeating this as if we hoi polloi are so stupid as not to figure this out by ourselves.) But at least Trump is trying.  He is not repeating the same endless  State Department-approved ritual that has been tried and has failed so miserably for the last twenty-five years.

Perhaps only someone with little or no foreign policy experience would have the “ignorance” — or is it originality or just plain cojones — to try this.  The government bureaucrats in Virginia who so disdain Trump at the ballot box certainly wouldn’t.  They just want to go and on and on collecting their waterproof swamp pay checks without some orange-haired billionaire reminding them of their hollow lives.

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Watching the normally Trump-phobic talking heads at CNN bend themselves into pretzels to say something bad about our president’s foreign policy address in South Korea Wednesday (our Tuesday), you knew POTUS had to have scored a home run in front of that country’s National Assembly.

In fact, if you had viewed the event live on television yourself, as I did here in Los Angeles, you would have known that already because Trump’s speech was superb — at once as tough and determined toward the North Korean dictator as it was complimentary toward the miraculous achievements of the South.  You also got a good short history of the Korean Peninsula since the 1950s into the bargain. Kudos to speechwriters Stephen Miller and Michael Anton and whoever else might be involved.

Trump may have received setbacks by proxy at the ballot boxes in New Jersey and Virginia, but in the realm of foreign policy he is achieving signal success.  Who knew this would be the area of his greatest accomplishments, the area where he appeared to have no prior experience whatsoever?

Nevertheless, the far more trivial electoral defeats will no doubt dominate the news.  Already the same talking heads are placing blame for Virginia squarely on Trump, as if a Republican could ever again be victorious in a state whose northern part is rapidly turning into one giant government employee bedroom.  Call it Swampburbia.

On the foreign front, however, Trump is succeeding as no American president has in years. By taking the gloves off our troops, he has given ISIS the boot (at least in their quondam caliphate) and helped put in place conditions that are causing the current shakeup in Saudi Arabia that most see as salutary. This will enable the Saudis to modernize and confront Islamo-imperialist Iran before the mullahs run rampant over the entire Middle East — something any decent person should applaud, at least if he or she isn’t part of the former Obama administration.

In the next day or so Trump will facing his biggest foreign test yet… no, not Putin, though he is apparently on the schedule… Xi Jinping. China is obviously our primary adversary with Russia not much more than a sideshow, despite what Robert Mueller or Fusion GPS might tell us.  The battle for the 21st century will be between China and the U.S., possibly with India, not Russia, as a distant third.

Trump may have entertained Xi in Mar-a-Lago, but he’s on the Chinese leader’s home turf now and Chairman Xi has recently consolidated his power like no Chinese head of state in years, possibly since Mao.  The American president will have a complicated task in front of him, balancing the need to get Chinese engagement on North Korea and chastising Xi on trade and China’s continued expansionism.

This is more than most American presidents dare to take on — and so far Trump has been doing it with considerable aplomb.  With few exceptions, our media gives him little credit for this. They are so invested in Trump’s failure that even if he were to single-handedly get North Korea to denuclearize they would do their best not to acknowledge it, quickly switching attention to the latest poll, which no doubt will show Trump less popular than Jack the Ripper.

Of course, it is highly unlikely that the president will get the deranged Kim to back down.  (The media, in its smug majesty, keeps repeating this as if we hoi polloi are so stupid as not to figure this out by ourselves.) But at least Trump is trying.  He is not repeating the same endless  State Department-approved ritual that has been tried and has failed so miserably for the last twenty-five years.

Perhaps only someone with little or no foreign policy experience would have the “ignorance” — or is it originality or just plain cojones — to try this.  The government bureaucrats in Virginia who so disdain Trump at the ballot box certainly wouldn’t.  They just want to go and on and on collecting their waterproof swamp pay checks without some orange-haired billionaire reminding them of their hollow lives.

But forget about Virginia, Virginia.  As we used to say, “the whole world is watching.”