Thursday, April 26, 2018

Trump calls Kim Jeong-eun "very honorable"

Kim Jeong-eun is a mass-murdering sack of salted pork who only a few months ago executed six people for treason. For Donald Trump to call this creature "very honorable" is a travesty. I get that Trump is trying to accomplish something that previous administrations have been unable to accomplish, but there's no justification for going overboard with the praise. (Styx, meanwhile, predicts that Trump and Kim will get along perfectly, acting buddy-buddy and perhaps even hitting the links together.)

I remain pessimistic about the upcoming summit, which may or may not happen. People like Scott Adams seem to think Trump has much voodoo when it comes to understanding and manipulating human psychology, but I think the same is true of the North Korean administration, which has successfully aikido'ed several global powers such that they stumble in each other's way rather than focusing on North Korea itself. As a friend just noted to me in an email, "my concern is that [KJU] is going to play [Trump] like a fiddle. The optimistic view would be to say, 'Hey, maybe Trump's approach is the right one, and the DPRK really is going to decide to play nice and sit at the grown-ups' table.' But it seems like the realistic view is that [KJU] has Trump's number and knows exactly what he needs to say and do to get on his good side." Until I'm shown otherwise, I incline toward this friend's view of the situation. If Trump proves successful in negotiating something substantive, I'll gladly declare I was wrong and congratulate President Stands With His Hair on accomplishing something that no president before him ever managed to accomplish. We need to keep in mind, though, that the proof of the pudding won't manifest itself until many months, or even a few years, after these negotiations. If the goal is peninsular peace and denuclearization, then everything hinges on true verifiability, and not just verifiability of the Hans Blix variety.

ASIDE: this is going to sound nuts to the pro-disarmament crowd, but I actually think that countries like Iran and North Korea have the right to full sovereignty, which means they are free to act in their own national self-interest. The corollary is that I think these countries have a right to whatever weapons they deem necessary for national defense. If I were in a position of influence, I'd argue that we should focus on getting South Korea—and probably Japan, too—equivalently armed. I think that full verification of North Korea's compliance with any denuclearization deal is impossible; the government can keep shifting weaponry from depot to depot as the tiny team of inspectors wends its way throughout the country—all of which makes verification a travesty, a sort of "security theater" writ large. Far better to declare that there will be dire and devastating consequences for unleashing nukes on the peninsula or at other countries; we should leave the entire region better armed than it currently is and rely on the principle of mutually assured destruction to do the rest. Kim isn't crazy, nor is he suicidal; he, his forebears, and his government have proven, over the years, to be rational actors. They know what a single nuclear strike would bring upon them.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that we should allow the DPRK to keep its nukes, which would then allow the North and South to rebuild economic links and in turn speed the growth of a large middle class that eventually pressures Kim Jong-un to reform.

    However, the US seems insistent that North Korea denuclearize, which is why I doubt a lasting peace deal will ever be reached under such a framework. Marketization is really the best way to open up the North and ultimately realize unification.



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