Monday, May 28, 2018

Game-Playing North Korean Style

"[A] nuclear-to-nuclear showdown [is in the works that will] make the U.S. taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor even imagined up to now."
"North Korea rejects the] so-called Libya mode of nuclear abandonment, 'complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization', 'total decommissioning of nuclear weapons, missiles and bio-chemical weapons', etc. [and] 'abandoning nuclear weapons first, compensating afterward'."
"[The Trump administration] is trumpeting as if it would offer economic compensation and benefit in case we abandon nuke. But we have never had any expectation of U.S. support in carrying out our economic construction and will not at all make such a deal in future, too."
Pyongyang, North Korea

"[Before the U.S. administration lifted its] maximum pressure [campaign, it expects the North to carry out complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization]."
U.S. National Security adviser John Bolton

"The Clinton administration, even the Bush administration got played in the past. We offered concessions to the North Korean regime in exchange for promises to end their nuclear weapons program only to see them break those promises and abandon them."
"[If Kim] doesn't make a deal [he will end like Gadhafi]."
U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seen on the front page of the Rodong Sinmun after a surprise second meeting on May 26, 2018.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seen on the front page of the Rodong Sinmun after a surprise second meeting on May 26, 2018.

It's a stale, old ruse, which despite which its predictability in the end, continues to appeal to those wanting to believe that if only they place their trust in what they have seen lately, that the volatile juvenile delinquent whose rants and raves and muscular threats have been toned down, this time for good as Kim Jong-Un has finally and suddenly matured his vision with the realization that his country will continue to remain one viewed by its neighbours and the greater outside world as an economic failure and a new, conciliatory tactic was called for.

South Korea, anxious as always to appease the little monster, and hoping for an eventual outcome that will lead to reconciliation and reunification is prepared to set aside its skepticism and opt for placating and soothing Kim to convince him that no one and no force is interested in or prepared to challenge  his administration. All that is required is for the North to renounce its nuclear plans and shelve its ballistics-improvement program and the world will be its oyster.

The South is interested in reunification but the North most certainly is not, since Kim has no intention of melding his Northern half with the South at the endangerment of his personal future and his firm dictatorship. It is worrisome to Kim that his family enterprise which has been appeased time and again on the pretense that all is well and whatever pacification demanded of it will be met with perfect compliance, has finally taught his adversaries caution and a view to more balanced reaction and restraint.

So that on trust alone the loosening of sanctions, the handing over of cash and kind will no longer be the norm in transactions between North Korea, the South and the United States. In past negotiations the benefits have been forthcoming before the North's promised stand-downs have come into effect, and they never did since in the short term their demands were met and no need was recognized to honour their end of the bargain.

The front-loaded economic benefits so sought-after by the North to enable it to benefit from 'sacrifices' it promises but will never agree to, are held back this time around. But despite the calm and relaxed atmosphere that Kim permitted to prevail in meetings with his South Korean counterpart, Ban-Ki Moon, and promises that his regime was prepared to completely denuclearize in lock-step with regional denuclearization, the proof of which was the destruction of the North's nuclear test site, the sham collapsed.

The Punggye-ri nuclear test site was already destroyed by the collapse of the mountain where the site had been anything but brilliantly located. As the Guardian newspaper reported: "North Korea's main nuclear test site has partially collapsed under the stress of multiple explosions, possibly rendering it unsafe for further testing", thanks to the earthquakes that resulted from those ill-placed nuclear tests impacting on the geological integrity of the mountain.

In response to the rudely pugnacious and insulting verbal assaults lobbed by North Korean authorities toward its American 'enemies' President Trump had decided to call off the scheduled June 12 meeting between himself and Kim. This was keenly wounding to Kim, wholly given over to the idea that he is influential and important enough to be seen (by him at least) as a co-equal to the president of the United States. Abusing Trump evidently wasn't supposed to result in his deciding to call off the meeting.

But this was the recommendation, in all likelihood by Beijing in advice to Kim. China is in quite a tight spot; its relations with North Korea have undergone some changes under international and UN pressure, but it still underwrites the North to keep it from imploding, to ensure it remains as a buffer, a noxiously irritating one, against Western and obviously United States interests, interfering with China's heavy-handed aggressions in the region itself.

President Trump just about matches Kim Jong-Un for passionate volatility and insulting remarks, but he has the kind of authority, if not morality, that Kim lacks. Trump may be less than suave about his opinions and how he employs his power base, but Kim is a totalitarian tyrant, an oppressor of his people, a threat to world order, and a murderer. In a sense it's a pity that  Trump is once again back-tracking on his decision to abort the meeting declaring it now tentatively back on.

The success seen in tightening sanctions both against North Korea and tightening repercussions against China's support for the North was having its desired impact. Kim's game-playing histrionics and expectations will never abate. That old adage of bullies deserving rough treatment as an educational tool is a reflection of reality.
Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in talk during a meeting at the northern side of the Panmunjom in North Korea. It was their second face-to-face meeting.
Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in talk during a meeting at the northern side of the Panmunjom in North Korea. It was their second face-to-face meeting.   CNN

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