Posted tagged ‘Trump and North Korea’

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.”

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/.

Report: North Korean Generals’ Favorite American Show Is … “Morning Joe”

October 20, 2017

Report: North Korean Generals’ Favorite American Show Is … “Morning Joe”, Hot Air, Allahpundit, October 19, 2017

Makes sense. It’s the only show more hostile to Trump than North Korea’s own propaganda is.

The funniest thing about this report is that “Morning Joe” is, relatively speaking, a hard show for most *Americans* to understand, let alone North Koreans. It’s the ultimate Beltway insider program, tailored to the tastes of political junkies. Imagine being an average guy or gal channel-surfing for some general interest news in the morning and stumbling upon an MJ colloquy between Steve Schmidt, Nicolle Wallace, and Donny Deutsch on the “dog whistles” in Trump’s latest speech on tax reform. Imagine trying to make sense of that. Now imagine a North Korean military officer, separated by geography, language, and a lot of culture, trying to make sense of it.

I take it back. The funniest thing about this is that the entire crew seems to take the report at face value instead of recognizing that the North Korea officer was just blowing smoke up the NBC correspondent’s ass about what his favorite American news shows are.

NBC News correspondent Kier Simmons landed a rare interview with a North Korean military official on Thursday and learned that officials in the communist country watch “Morning Joe” specifically for reports and discussions about their country…

“He quite plainly said he believes President Trump is mentally ill,” Simmons told “Morning Joe” co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough. “And he was unequivocal in saying he believes North Korea could win a war with America.”

“Be it no doubt that the senior officials here pay attention to what is being said in the U.S.,” Simmons added. “One telling me that he watches ‘Morning Joe’ every day specifically for the segments about North Korea.”

Everyone knows that the place to be for in-depth coverage of the crisis on the peninsula isn’t BBC World News, it’s “Morning Joe.” What?

Actually, though, I can kinda sorta see why North Koreans might be monitoring the program. It’s not for the North Korea coverage, of course, it’s because their intelligence people probably know that Scarborough and Brzezinski know Trump personally and therefore might have special insights into his thinking. The NorKs are, reportedly, confused about Trump’s intentions and eager for experts in Washington to clue them into whether Trump’s a blowhard or he really is planning a nuclear first strike. Watching “Morning Joe” would be of a piece with that. And hey, everyone enjoys political television that confirms their own intellectual biases. The NorKs think Trump is crazy and evil; Scarborough and Brzezinski call him crazy and evil pretty much every day. Someday, when the definitive historical account of the U.S./North Korean nuclear exchange of 2019 is written, we may learn that it was an especially febrile, white-knuckled attack on Trump’s mental stability on MSNBC one morning that convinced Kim Jong Un to order full release.

A frightening thought: If the NorKs are monitoring “Morning Joe” because the hosts know Trump, they’re probably monitoring “Hannity” too. They must be on the edge of their seats wondering if the Seth Rich case will ever be cracked.