Dagelijkse archieven: 3 januari 2018

Kim Jong Un’s Trap for South Korea

Kim Jong Un’s Trap for South Korea

An offer of dialogue from the North could be an effort to split the U.S.-South Korea alliance.

The Olympic Stadium in PyeongChang South Korea
The Olympic Stadium in PyeongChang South KoreaPawel Kopczynski / Reuters
With about five weeks to go until the Winter Olympics in South Korea, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un suddenly appeared to reverse course. Having focused on nuclear and missile testing while rejecting conciliatory calls from the South to open dialogue, Kim in a New Year’s speech made his own offer for talks on how to create a peaceful environment for the Olympics and the 70th anniversary of North Korea’s founding. The South quickly accepted, proposing to hold talks next week.

But it may not be an unalloyed success for South Korea’s progressive President Moon Jae In, who has staked his political future on improving relations in the North. In reality, it’s an attempt to put him in an impossible bind.


Moon wants to host a peaceful 2018 Winter Olympic games, as well as open direct dialogue with his neighbor. But in pursuing those things, Moon cannot succumb to North Korean nuclear blackmail to weaken the South’s military alliance with the United States—in the very same New Year’s speech, Kim claimed to be able to hit the U.S. with a nuclear weapon. Nor can Moon abandon the U.S.-led international pressure campaign against North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.

Kim’s dialogue proposal is based on the North’s well-worn “By Our Nation Itself” line—that South Koreans must abandon interference from outside powers, who have benefited from keeping the peninsula week and divided, and join with North Korean compatriots to achieve independent national unification. This scheme, incidentally, is incompatible with the international pressure campaign the U.S. is relying on to manage the North’s nuclear program—not to mention with the U.S. alliance the South is relying on to protect it.

And the gambit appeals directly to Moon’s goals, while trying to force a choice: a peaceful Olympics, or South Korea’s alliance with the United States. As part of his dialogue proposal, Kim explicitly criticized the Moon administration for “joining the United States in its reckless moves for a North-targeted nuclear war” and requested the discontinuation of “joint nuclear war drills they stage with outside forces.”


(South Korea and the United States hold regular joint military drills, which North Korea consistently portrays as preparation for an invasion.) But it is Kim himself who wants to hold South Korea’s hosting of the Winter Olympics hostage to his demand for global acknowledgement that the North has (illegally) become a nuclear weapons state.

It’s not the first time Kim has used a sporting event in this way. In 2014, Kim suddenly sent three top-ranking officials to the closing ceremonies of the Asian Games held in Incheon to celebrate a better-than-expected performance by North Korean athletes. That visit did not immediately result in progress in inter-Korean relations, but two senior members of the delegation, Hwang Pyung So and Kim Yang Gon, returned for marathon inter-Korean negotiations in August 2015.


Those talks aimed at diffusing a different crisis: South Koreans had suffered casualties from a North Korean landmine placed at a post near the demilitarized zone between the two countries, and the South had resumed propaganda broadcasts at the DMZ.

Moon administration proposals for inter-Korean dialogue have been categorically rejected by the North since Moon came into office in May of 2017. Hwang and Kim Yang Gon, North Korea’s senior participants in the August 2015 talks, are no longer on the scene. The Moon administration contains many senior officials who want to revive the sort of inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation that South Korea pursued when Kim Jong Il led the North, but they are hard-pressed to find holdovers still in power under Kim Jong Un. Should talks actually take place, South Korea will have a chance to learn more about who Kim Jong Un trusts to manage inter-Korean dialogue.

But the very offer of talks is an unwelcome reminder that despite South Korea’s international success as a top-ranked global economy, the country remains hobbled both by its rough neighborhood and its exasperating northern neighbor. It exposes Moon’s weaknesses and South Korea’s diplomatic and political constraints, especially as Kim Jong Un tries to generate friction between Presidents Moon and Trump.


Both Moon and Trump have put a good face on the relationship despite their ideological and personality differences, but North Korea’s dialogue offer may attempt to exploit the tactical differences between them over how to handle North Korea.

For instance, Moon has already publicly stated his desire last month to postpone annual U.S.-South Korea military exercises that normally would be ramping up during the Olympic games. The Trump administration may find a way to accommodate such a request while maintaining the international pressure campaign against North Korea. Further North Korean demands for delays in joint military exercises, though, could generate tensions between Seoul and Washington.

The Moon administration has also raised questions in recent weeks about the validity of its predecessor’s February 2016 closing of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a business production zone located inside North Korea in which South Korean companies provided infrastructure and knowhow and North Korea had provided labor. The complex was shut down following North Korea’s fourth nuclear test in January 2016. Any attempt to reopen it now would be seen as a direct blow to the economic sanctions drive that would likely violate UN Security Council resolutions on North Korean exports, and would generate strong opposition from the Trump administration.

As if the challenge of dealing with Kim Jong Un wasn’t enough, the Moon administration’s problems with its two closest neighbors threatens to cast a shadow over South Korea’s hosting of the games. Moon’s state visit to Beijing last month has failed to stabilize China-South Korea relations following the fallout from the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea, a U.S.-provided missile defense system China worries is aimed at its own nuclear arsenal.


China has restored a ban on Chinese group tours to Seoul, and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s participation in the Pyeongchang opening ceremonies is unconfirmed. Likewise, the Moon administration’s announcement last week of the results of a review of a controversial agreement on how to address “comfort women”—who served as sex slaves for the Japanese military during World War II—has decreased the likelihood of Japanese Prime Minister’s Shinzo Abe’s Olympic attendance as well.


Moon now faces a moment that will define his presidency as he prepares to host a high-profile international event in a tough neighborhood. That was going to be fraught to begin with. Now he faces the added problem that his own near-term political goals could trap him into concessions that might weaken South Korea’s alliance with the United States.

BETRAYAL: Steve Bannon Says That Trump Administration ‘Committed Treason’, Don Jr. Will Be ‘Cracked Like An Egg’

Aangeleverd door: It’s Me

New post on Now The End Begins


Klik:>BETRAYAL: Steve Bannon Says That Trump Administration ‘Committed Treason’, Don Jr. Will Be ‘Cracked Like An Egg’

by Geoffrey Grider

Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon has described the Trump Tower meeting between the president’s son and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”, according to an explosive new book seen by the Guardian.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Steve Bannon, interviewed for upcoming Trump expose book ‘Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House’, unleashed on his former boss and predicted the absolute downfall of Don Jr. Round and round she goes, where she’ll stop, nobody knows. If Trump didn’t feel alone before, he does now. 

Steve Bannon, speaking to author Michael Wolff, warned that the investigation into alleged collusion with the Kremlin will focus on money laundering and predicted: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, reportedly based on more than 200 interviews with the president, his inner circle and players in and around the administration, is one of the most eagerly awaited political books of the year. In it, Wolff lifts the lid on a White House lurching from crisis to crisis amid internecine warfare, with even some of Trump’s closest allies expressing contempt for him.

Bannon, who was chief executive of the Trump campaign in its final three months, then White House chief strategist for seven months before returning to the rightwing Breitbart News, is a central figure in the nasty, cutthroat drama, quoted extensively, often in salty language.

Scorning apparent White House insouciance, Bannon reaches for a hurricane metaphor: “They’re sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five.”

He is particularly scathing about a June 2016 meeting involving Trump’s son Donald Jr, son-in-law Jared Kushner, then campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in New York. A trusted intermediary had promised documents that would “incriminate” rival Hillary Clinton but instead of alerting the FBI to a potential assault on American democracy by a foreign power, Trump Jr replied in an email: “I love it.”

The meeting was revealed by the New York Times in July last year, prompting Trump Jr to say no consequential material was produced. Soon after, Wolff writes, Bannon remarked mockingly: “The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers.

“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s***, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”

Bannon went on, Wolff writes, to say that if any such meeting had to take place, it should have been set up “in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people”. Any information, he said, could then be “dump[ed] … down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication”.

Bannon added: “You never see it, you never know it, because you don’t need to … But that’s the brain trust that they had.” source



Geoffrey Grider | January 3, 2018 at 11:13 am | Categories: The Big Story | URL: https://wp.me/p1kFP6-dHG

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