I just finished doing Press TV live rolling coverage on North Korea’s Kim Jong-un walking over the Panmunjom border to shake hands with S. Korean President Moon Jae-in to begin their historic meeting, the first time a North Korean leader has even been in S. Korea.
Many had thought this day could never come, that there was too much bad blood between North and South Korea, not to mention the US. But here we are, watching a carefully staged, managed diplomacy being made step by careful step to build trust between the leaders and the two peoples, and create the goodwill momentum needed to overcome one side trying to drive too hard a bargain that could blow the whole thing up.
Trump has a lot at stake in his make believe art-of-the-deal role he sees himself in, having never been able to transcend his make believe TV role to one of being president.
Actually Trump and Kim Jong-un have one thing in common. Both have histories of wanting things their way, all the time, and using everything within their grasp to get them. Therein could be the seed of failure for this long hoped for peace and denuclearization deal.
We have come a long way from calling Kim rocket man to calling him a great guy. So what changed? Kim is basically still asking for the same security guarantees he always wanted in return for ending his nuclear program. And Trump’s deal killer was “you denuclearized first, and then we will talk about what you get in return”.
Old Cold War diplomats knew that Kim would never do that. He was not that stupid. Once he gave up his nukes, he would have lost his ace in the hole card. And he surprised us all with his announcement to stop both nuclear and ballistic missile testing, as he had reached his goal of having a credible and demonstrated nuclear deterrent. If Kim got solid security guarantees to end that threat there would no longer be any need for his nuclear deterrent.
Brought up in the discussion on Press TV tonight was the issue of North Korean Armistice including the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army, so China is not going to be a bystander during this process.
Kim’s big problem is his facing a May-June meeting with Trump, who has brought the Iran-JCPOA agreement back into a crisis status, not because he wants to renegotiate the deal, where Iran would be given something in return for having to make more concessions. No, Trump’s deal is “you give up more, and we give you nothing for the concessions”.
Iran is an ancient Persian civilization that enjoyed a long and lucrative position on the Silk Road, where endless business deals were done, and yes international trading. It is not going to play Trump’s fool by going along with “fixing” the deal.
With N. Korea, if Trump plays the “you give me your nukes first or I won’t give you anything, that Unipolar babble will go over like a lead balloon. So where does that leave the rest of us?
Outside forces have to weigh in, which S. Korea has already been doing by carrying the ball up to this point, as it should be. It has a huge stake in the final outcome, and a united North and South Korea, with China and Russia backing them, can stand up to Trump silliness.
The smart money is betting is that we are going to see a slow process of confidence-building steps, like reopening the international trade zone that employed North Koreans, restarting the tourism business, and family reunifications.
Sanctions will not come off with a sweep of a hand but gradually, and the major countries might go their own way on those, faster, like the Chinese. The North Koreans have to be given something to show good faith. How much leverage South Korea will have if it wants to do more than Trump remains to be seen.
But if Trump backs out of the JCPOA, and Iran starts reprocessing 20% fuel, and then Trump threatens military strikes if Tehran does not stop, what kind of shadow would that cast over the Korean talks? Why would Kim trust Trump, or the NeoCons, to break any deal made, whenever they decide?
North Korea of course will want the sanctions removed and also to allow foreign investment. The US will want inspections of NK’s nuclear facilities to make sure there is no activity. So each side will probe each other with these proofs of good faith.
Trump wants and needs a win in Korea as a badly needed foreign policy achievement. He is just coming off a missile strike on Syria over a chemical weapons claim that did not happen. The OPCW hosted the witnesses in The Hague today, and it was a grand performance.
Corporate media has been silent for days, having lost its “Assad the mad gasser” bullhorn. The Syrian missile attack has turned into a circus, with the Pentagon claiming no missiles were shot down, as more and more photos of missile wreckage are appearing, some from the Russian command.
We are hearing no more Russophobia comments from Britain on the Skripal case, as suspicion grows that it was a fabricated psyop, and one that never made any more sense than Assad gassing the people of Ghouta when the jihadis had agreed to leave, and did.
An even bigger sign of the shift in the winds is that Nikki Halley has not called anyone a madman or brutal dictator at the UN, a badly needed break for all of us. Trump’s import duty tirade was also pushed off the front page, giving the EU some breathing space.
Trump’s chaos theory gaming might swallow him up eventually. He is driving his lawyers nuts with this impulsive tweets and public statements. This week, when his attorneys were claiming that Mr. Cohen’s seized records should not be turned over to prosecutors due to a lot of client (Trump) privileged communications, then Trump states that Cohen did just a tiny amount of work for him.
The Senate committee votes on a bill to give dismissing a special prosecutor a right to judicial review, specifically for the Mueller investigation, but there are not enough supporters to win a Senate vote.
Trump’s legal problems could blow up in his face this summer, right in the peak of the midterm election fever, where many see a shift of power in the House, which would allow the new Democratic committee chairmen to begin launching new investigations of the Trump administration.
Rumors are already starting to float about Trump announcing early that he will only be a one-term president, so the Republicans would have a full two years to campaign for replacing him.
And last, there has been reporting of something called “Mueller’s revenge”, where to protect his investigation, he might have already filed a secret indictment, which would still exist as a poison pill if Mueller were to be fired.
It’s going to be a long, slow summer, with lots of fireworks.
Jim W. Dean, managing editor for Veterans Today, producer/host of Heritage TV Atlanta, specially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.