While getting rid of Park Geun-Hye certainly made this easier - I think this has more to do with Kim Jong Un and also the warm reception N. Korea got at the recent winter Olympics in South Korea.
That said I would be cautious how far this would go. I suspect a lot of N. Koreas militaristic acts and statements over the years is not because of any actual desire but war, but just posturing to help in negotiations over tariffs and aid.
I am also going to take the unpopular opinion and say that Trump does deserve some credit. Under many past Presidents, the N. Korean government knew America would never use military force and acted accordingly. Under Trump, they have good reason to be concerned about the possibility of military force and are taking a more cautious and reconciliatory approach. I think the North Koreans are well aware that militaristic posturing won't get them very far with Trump the way it did with past presidents.
For the US's part, they agreed to not re apply new sanctions on the North as long as the North continued to operate within the parameters of their Sunshine Policy negotiated with the South. That was what was happening, but then Bush came into office and this policy changed. New sanctions were put upon DPRK and they would eventually be included in the Bush Admin's "Axis of Evil" (Iran, Iraq, and North Korea).
This caused the North to go back on its agreements and the Sunshine Policy as a whole, and did also align with more conservative governments in South Korea.
All that said, I was smiling so big last night seeing the two leaders shaking hands, smiling themselves. A reunification of the 2 Koreas would be an absolute blessing upon the world. Many people in the North and South long to be reunited. Not to mention the ease of so many tensions in SE Asia that would come from 1 Korea.
2002-2008 was, if you recall, was the era of the Axis of Evil rhetoric.
If they did fear Trump, why did they launch rocket after rocket while he threatened them with hell's fury? Trump role in the story appears more to be as an easily antagonalizable president against whom it is easy to show how "strong" you are. It's easier to negotiate from a position of strength than in one which you are thought of as to be inferior.
With no viable test site, North Korea's nuclear program is kaput, as are their ambitions of becoming a major nuclear power. Moreover, there is now a massive environmental disaster that will affect people all over the Korean peninsula plus northern China. They have no choice to come to the negotiating table, and South Korea has a strong incentive to reach a peace deal so they can get their geologists, engineers, and inspectors in and mitigate the damage before a massive fall-out plume blows over Seoul.
Park Geun-hye in her presidental term had repeatedly stressed that the Korean reunification will be a bonanza ("통일은 대박이다"), but this unusual and ultimately information-free slogan turned out to be coined by Choi Soon-sil, a cult leader behind Park Geun-hye. Choi wanted to, literally, make NK collapse in two years after the sudden closure of the Kaesong Industrial Region in 2016 in order to pave a way to Park's reelection---while the current Constitution of South Korea does not allow for the presidental reelection, critical events like the collapse of NK can force amendments or even allow excuse to the Constitution. Choi even tried to leverage those future events into huge returns by buying land near the 38th parallel.
After Park's impeachment, it was revealed that there were multiple attempts from NK (yes, you read right) during the Park's term to make contact to SK, only to be ignored. For example, top officials from NK visited SK during the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon and (unsuccessfully) asked to arrange a meeting with Park. This breakdown was for a long time attributed to NK, but in reality Park (and in turn, Choi) had just ignored the request.
 The primary source is an interview of Jang Shiho from Lee Gyu-yeon's Spotlight (a JTBC programme), but individual points were also independently confirmed via multiple sources. Jang was a niece of Choi Soon-sil and eventually sentenced to 2 1/2 year imprisonment in 2017 after giving much clues to investigators (for plea bargaining).
Only one major change has taken place, and it's not a change of presidency in SK.
Whether we like him or not, President Trump did this, and we should rejoice. SK's President says Trump made this possible -- shall we ignore that?
This is so wildly inaccurate. First off, a colossal scandal and changing of power from one party to another party in one of the countries involved in the treaty certainly counts as a major change, especially when it's a transition from an anti-reconciliation government to a pro-reconciliation one. In fact, this is the first time that the president of SK has held that position during the reign of Kim Jong-Un.
In addition to that, NK has finally actually demonstrated nuclear capability, turning that into a FAR more credible threat than ever before.
Lastly, China's position on NK has been shifting over time (definitely started during the Obama presidency) and they have become increasingly impatient and intolerant of NK. That has accelerated during (and likely because of) Trump, but he 100% didn't start it.
I am sure that Trump played a role in this, but to suggest that he is the only major change is pure American exceptionalist nonsense.
Giving up their nuclear capability means they can never do this again, and they'll have no way to ensure that we keep giving them whatever it is that we'll agree to give them. Which is why I fully expected them to insist on a continuation of the status quo, with them retaining their nukes.
That they are willing to [verifiably, presumably] give up their nukes is a very big deal. It means that the DPRK was faced with something very bad for them. That can only have been Trump's twisting of the screws on the DPRK. My impression is that Trump would starve them to the point that Kim would end up hanging from a lamp post, and that he has the leverage on China needed to make that happen.
The change in the American approach to the DPRK nuclear weapons issue is the biggest change, and it is the direct cause of Kim suing for peace.
Trump taking office? You don't think this has anything to do with the fact that the DPRK now has a working ICBM and thermonuclear warhead, giving them much more leverage in negotiations?
EDIT: They never needed nukes. Vietnam has no nukes and we've all left them alone. Iraq would have been left alone had Hussein not invaded Kuwait. Afghanistan would have been left alone had 9/11 not happened or had the Taliban turned over bin Laden. And so on.
We don't yet know what the DPRK will get out of this. So far it seems like "security guarantees". Probably also money and such, but in any verifiable nuclear disarmament by the DPRK all of such concessions are one-time. I'm shocked they're even offering anything given that once they give up the nukes they give up all leverage, but it goes to show that we (Trump!) have something even stronger leverage: we can starve the DPRK into submission because we can hurt China in the pocket book, and everyone believes that Trump means to do these things.
I initially misread your comment. To anybody who wants more info on how this all went down:
SK wanted to meet with NK specifically because the US was taking increasingly aggressive stances towards NK, and they wanted to avoid conflict. The rest of the peace talks are a direct result of Trump agreeing to meet with KJU.
Look folks, no one has to like DJT, but we mustn't deny his successes -- we mustn't twist ourselves into pretzels to deny that he caused NK to sue for peace.
Singing “Trump made this happen with his childish Twitter diplomacy” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
There is a blurry line between making something happen through direct action, and allowing it to happen through incompetence.
You don't have to like the guy, but the US absolutely had a hand in this.
I'm not incredibly familiar with the situation as it stands, but is re-unification a legitimate possibility? I mean, I don't see Kim Jong-Un giving up power, but I could see them wanting to claim re-unification at least from a cultural perspective, like they did in the Olympics.
Her theory was that reunification of the Koreas would be very messy given the economic disparity between the two nations, and that SK doesn't want it.
That being said I would hope that NK actually goes along with joint projects with its neighbors. Not like the aid will stop if they're more amicable.
The politics become a bit less rough if we're still talking about 2 regimes I think
I am not saying the reunification wasn't worth it but it was much more difficult than people may think.
So to sum my points up: I could totally be in the South Koreans interest to reunify in order to buy cheap property in the north (and at the same time a very good reason for North Koreans to not want it, even though they would gain an immediate financial benefit through it).
Public land in the GDR is now owned by the German state.
"some profitable companies"
Most companies were transfered to an institution ("Treuhandanstalt") founded by the GDR. Most of these folded, because people in the GDR stopped buying former-GDR products and bought from West companies as soon as the Mark was introduced with a stupid 1:1 exchange rate instead of the real 1:7 (but it got the chancellor reelected). Additionally all export markets in Eastern Europe broke down. Imagine a company losing ALL it's customers and in the need to find new ones while still having thousands of employees. I'm not sure many companies today would survive this.
With an 1:1 exchange rate no company was profitable, most due to not enough machines working and too many people (many machines were run down in the 80s and couldn't be repaired). Funny story from former left-terrorist (RAF) members who fled to the GDR and when working in companies there (VEB) thought "this never works" because the whole company owned one xerox.
I don't think NK has a lot of functional companies though, with most people being farmers, so this should be mood.
I'd also ensure basic human rights are currently being addressed. I don't have a solution for past violations, that's a tough issue.
Basically, I'd go with the China model.
Also, German unification was a huge burden on all of Europe, not just Western Germany.
S. Korean leaders may publically speak about the desire for reconciliation, but it's unlikely that they would seriously pursue it considering the economic and political strain it would place on S. Korea.
N. Koreans have a much greater interest in reunification than the South does. But that interest doesn't extend to those in power in the North who would certainly be reluctant to give up that power.
So while reunification might seem like a nice sentiment, it doesn't seem like something that those in power of either side actually want.
Long-term I'm sure it would be profitable, but would South Korea dare make that investment in their current period of tremendous growth? The opportunity cost loss is massive. Would US/China help invest?
In principle, I would not make the government pay for anything significant and it would sort itself out.
Perhaps a slow process that starts with closer economic and social ties?
Why? Societies/nations/etc always change. Given the state of NK, what's shocking is that it didn't happen sooner.
> I'm not incredibly familiar with the situation as it stands, but is re-unification a legitimate possibility?
Reunification is inevitable just like it was between east and west germany. The only question is when.
In the meantime, if all goes to plan, it looks like the koreas + US/China are going to officially end the korean war and relations between north korea and south korea + US are going to be normalized and we will ostensibly get the "unofficial" end of the cold war. Of course the biggie being north korea giving up their nukes.
Everyone seems to be forgetting that the reason that WE have refused to sign a peace treaty for decades is because of the human rights violations in North Korea. I have no idea how the narrative switched to North Korea wanting a peace treaty as a concession from them.
US needs to there to curb China.
But who knows. I am no expert.
For most of history, politics is realism, just with an overlay of reality distortion to steer things sometimes.
Oh you don't mean the atrocities of the dictatorships in the south under the US military occupation, you mean the north.
That being said, just because someone has done something horrible doesn’t mean they can’t do good things.
Your examples can be completely correct, and generally pertinent, but still have no weighing on the question of what credit to give Kim Jung-un, which is what the grandparent post is discussing.
Yet, every time Belgium, or the United Kingdom, or Canada or the Unite States is brought up, we don't always have the thread of discussion dominated by all the awful, but irrelevant things that they have done, or are doing.
I definitely don't think this would be a smart idea, but... be the change you want to see in the world!
Nothing, but much of the time, it's as irrelevant as soviet-era "And are you lynching blacks" responses. I don't think it's good for every thread that mentions a country by name to turn into this.
If we're talking about incarceration, or political freedom, sure. If we're talking about detente between two countries at war, it's less relevant. If we're talking about roll-out of 10 GW of solar power capacity in China, mentioning its human rights record is a complete non-sequitor...
I feel that this case is closer to the latter then the former.
In case it isn't clear, "denuclearization" means the removal of the US nuclear shield from the Korean peninsular and from Japan.
For those who aren't aware, the current US/Japan alliance guarantees the US nuclear arsenal will protect Japan (and South Korea). That is why those countries haven't pursued their own nuclear arms program.
This will be a big problem.
If North Korea offers to denuclearize then there will be huge pressure on the US to withdraw from South Korea.
North Korea is utterly untrustworthy on this of course, but that's a hard argument to make if they appear to be making reasonable concessions.
Maybe, but compared to who? It was the US that introduced nuclear weapons into Korea and broke the armistice, not NK. A fair deal would require the US to pull back first as they are the big stumbling block in this whole situation and always have been.
then just borrow more money to maintain the presence there.
when US treasury bond yield is reaching 3% and the public debt is more than 20 trillion, who cares about some extra billion $ spent there.
explain to debt collectors that some elements in South Korea want US troops there?
Roll back some tax cuts if the US is too poor I guess.
South Korea and the United States are politically weak right now -- not necessarily the leaders, but the political systems are at a low point of unity and resolve. Neither country really wants to deal with North Korea right now. People in each country would like this drama to be over, because it feels dangerous and intractable. The leaders in each country would love to deliver that feeling to us.
Kim Jong-un has an incredibly strong hand. He has nuclear missiles at his disposal, with apparently rapid progress toward increasing their range. He knows that other nations are fearful of those weapons, and that they won't do anything that risks putting them on the receiving end of even one.
We've had one bold historic headline after another now: Kim Jong-un has telegraphed a desire to denuclearize and to end the Korean war. He has raised the hopes of South Koreans and of Americans just enough that they each want a deal now, and their leaders now need to deliver.
But the price has not yet been negotiated.
What will be the price? Will Kim promise to stop further nuclear development? Will Kim promise to stop further missile development? Will Kim promise not to help other states develop nuclear missiles? Will Kim promise not to radically modernize his military in other ways as the floodgates of trade open?
Promises are inexpensive and reversible. Will he actually take any real steps to diminish or eliminate his nuclear and military power? I doubt it. Kim's not an idiot. He only needs to present the illusion.
People in the West seem to believe that Kim has experienced some sort of rebirth as a student of peace and nonviolence of late. But there's been no explanation and no demonstration (to my ears) of where that came from. It's possible perhaps that Xi Jinping whispered wonderful ideas and/or threats in Kim Jong-un's ear when he visited, but that's opaque to us and media I've read seems to be ignorant of such potential influence. If Kim were so serious, we should need him to demonstrate that credibly to us, through actions that are costly for him to take: in particular, pitching this change of vision directly and passionately to the populace of North Korea.
Kim Jong-un wants to get out from under the chokehold of heavy trade sanctions. He wants to be legitimized in the international community as the leader of a real nation. He wants to modernize both his military and his nation and his personal life. He probably dreams of visiting Paris and Manhattan.
It is my belief that he will be able to get these things -- without giving up nuclear weapons, missiles, nor giving up his political or military power over North Korea. From Kim's perspective, democratic politicians are weak and manipulable, and he will find it to be especially true right now.
(edit: s/telescoped/telegraphed/ -- thanks!)
I think this is a ploy to do two things:
1. Economic growth for North Korea, which has been happened to some extend already.
2. Get the US out of the Korean Peninsula.
A strong economy will allow NK to develop or buy all sorts of updated conventional arms. NK is seriously weak here. Their air force is horribly out of date. I doubt they can actually defeat South Korea in a conventional war even if the US is not helping SK.
Once the US presence is no longer there, it becomes a lot harder for the US to re-enter in times of conflict because now NK can threaten us with nuclear weapons. Most American will not trade Seattle or SF for South Korea.
Unification of Korea is pretty much a non-negotiatable goal for the North Korean regime. It's been their goal since the start and the reason why the leading families in NK support the Kim family.
To be sure: if this is a good faith approach to Unification, it should be up to the respective peoples to decide what their political fate ultimately is. I don't see the South Koreans willingly wishing to be ruled by the Kim regime.
But if its a ploy to get the US out so that Kim can strong arm the South Koreans... that is bad news.
But maybe I'm just a pessimist.
So what exactly is the tragedy you're talking about? A nuclear attack? That would be suicide.
It's hard to subscribe to predictions that fly in the face of basic principles of international relations.
"That would be suicide."
This is exactly why he deploys his madman act. You can reason about a reasonable person but a madman introduces an element of randomness. Once you're dealing with randomness, you have to talk in terms of probability. Would the US be willing to take even a 1% chance that he would go that far and launch nukes at us?
Given the situation they have been in for the past 60 years, and the political climate of the past 17, their behavior has been quite rational.
I don't know where you're getting news about Korea, but since his inauguration on May 2017, Moon Jae-In has been consistently enjoying approval rating of 60-70%. Even his party is enjoying ~50% support, while the chief opposition party (the conservative Liberty Korea Party) is struggling at 10-15% (although they do have 116 out of 293 seats at congress).
Moon is politically invincible now.
All those people suffering from lack will have a chance to take part in our modern abundance.
I can only imagine what will happen when NK opens it's doors to SK fully. There will be a massive demand for good and services. Exciting times!
> This system of indoctrination and propaganda complicates any official announcement of the Trump meeting. An ideological framework must be devised to explain the talks with the enemy; and regardless of how they are presented, there is an uncomfortable margin for the “infallible” leader to be seen to fail in his aims.
> Trump is a volatile opponent who telegraphed his impatience even before the two men fixed a place to talk, warning he would walk away if he thought the preparations weren’t going anywhere.
> But this unpredictability is the reason there are talks at all. Trump’s barrage of verbal and Twitter attacks on North Koreans – which have been reported there – led Pyongyang to question if it was, for the first time in a generation, facing a US president willing to attack them, experts say.
> Officials there have long calculated that no US president would risk lives in Seoul with an attack on the North. But under Trump that is no longer a safe assumption, says Andrei Lankov, professor of Korean Studies at Kookmin University.
> Kim, like his predecessors, has proved adept at manipulating regional and world powers into providing aid and political support while offering little in return. Now Kim may at last be forced into making real changes to stave off looming political and economic crises.
Edit: The gist of the prevailing theory is that in 1994, days before NK was supposed to talk to SK about re-unification, they suffered a coup. Since at least Kim Jung Il's death, Kim Jung Un has been reversing that coup to realize his grandfather's previous plans.
As a politician, Trump is a strange hybrid of Nixon and Berlusconi. I don’t think he’s consciously emulating Nixon on this though, he just has similar instincts.
And how'd that work out for the last however many presidents?
I was referring to raising children.
Trump got a gold star for showing up because it costs those leaders literally nothing to pay him lip service, but I think that's it.
To be sure, this is a frequent topic of discussion in South Korea, and this precise situation has been studied in some detail. The consensus seems to be to NOT do what the Germans did: It has been economically prohibitive, and East Germany is still noticeably behind the West in economic development. And the economic difference between the two Koreas at the moment is far, far greater today than the difference between the two Germany's in the 1990's. There are also cultural factors: North Korean workers are used to working under Communism, will they accept working under a capitalist elite?
That being said, a thought experiment with a Unified Korea is rather interesting. North Korean labor would perhaps be cheaper; South Korean companies could outsource manufacturing to the North instead of to China and still remain globally competitive. The North has vast mineral resources which could be exploited. A land route to China would increase Korean-Chinese trade immensely. So generally it would look very good economically.
Just like we are not at war with Iran, or Russia, or Eritrea, or a dozen other dictatorships around the world.
What a useless comment. How would we distinguish a PR move from a real one at this stage? Any contact is better than no contact, it's a step forward.
Can it fall apart, Of course! I'm pretty sure that is clear to everyone here...
Edit: Other than North Korea.
I had this argument with someone the other day, that because non-western countries aren't western doesn't mean their societies aren't free/advanced. I don't know how someone can argue that getting tortured or killed for your beliefs, or being treated as basically a possession, or any of these things is "free, just not in a western morals way".
What about the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Countries have repeatedly pledged to uphold it.
Just a couple of recent examples:
In 2000, the Millennium Declaration says "We resolve therefore: To respect fully and uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." It was unanimously adopted by the UN.
NK wasn't there.. but they were at the World Summit a few years later... where a similar statement was again adopted unanimously:
We reaffirm the solemn commitment of our States to fulfil their obligations to
promote universal respect for and the observance and protection of all human rights
and fundamental freedoms for all in accordance with the Charter, the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and other instruments relating to human rights and
international law. The universal nature of these rights and freedoms is beyond
There is a definition of freedom that everyone, including NK, agrees with.. It's defined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
You (and I) probably don’t think too much of that compared with the sort of freedom that lets you criticize the government without your entire family being sent to a camp, but not everybody thinks that way.
So if they enter into treaties that lead to the lifting of sanctions, they could actually gain freedom (from China) by giving up other freedoms (to stockpile nukes etc.).
Now, do you think that koreans as a whole prefer the northern or southern option?
You've got to be kidding.
Now, if the world's greatest superpower is stationing soldiers in your country for decades and demanding performative capitalism for your country to not be constrained by tariffs and sanctions and travel bans, you're going to be real excited about performative capitalism.
Likely it is because North Korea feels they have a real bargaining position with their ability to use nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Combined with a US administration which didn't roll over and it all sets the stage for both sides saving face
The answer 60 years ago was a violent "no".
If they somehow joined into one country (doesn’t seem likely near term but let’s say it happens) the same element with the US military withdrawal remains. But China loses the buffer zone. They’d be less happy but probably not unhappy.
The rhetoric out of NK, especially since they developed nukes, could not have made China happy. All it did was help justify the US military presence in the region. This harms some of China’s objectives and also keeps the US physically and politically present in what they see as their part of the world. Peace here could strengthen Chinese political influence, especially if they can claim and justify that they were key players in achieving this peace.
In fact this might be better for them since it reduces the justification of deploying US ABM systems in their back yard.
Currently the US can station all the missile defense which also can be used for anti-satellite purposes and no one can bat an eye as long as NK continues to pollute the Sea of Japan with hydrazine on a regular basis (at this point I think the true goal of their missile program is to wage economic war on Japan by killing all the Tuna with rocket fuel).
I can't get past that on a personal level, the decision-makers, in particular Kim Jong Un's family, are responsible for many people's suffering and deaths, which I would think would make them fear too much freedom among the survivors. People hunted Nazis for generations. Wouldn't the North Korean decision-makers fear being hunted?
Meanwhile, China has been invaded more than once from the Korean peninsula. How willing will they be to lose a buffer between themselves and U.S. military bases?
My own background is Ireland, where the peace deal included an amnesty that has largely been respected. People from the same organisations that killed and tortured now walk the corridors of power joking with each other about who killed who's cousins; plenty of citizens aren't too happy about that, but twenty years of peace beats the alternatives.
Irish immigrant slums in New York and London were once so problematic that police wouldn't go there unless in numbers. There were criminal/terrorist gangs who enacted their own law. The filth was quite notable. In the history, you can find parallels to many of today's issues. Also relevant: In the early 1800's, the typical Irish peasant had only 1/2 to 1/4th the wealth of the contemporaneous US slave!
Like most politically charged post-regime-change trials, the T&RC in South Africa is widely regarded by knowledgeable parties as mostly a sham/show trial. You can read more about this in e.g. R.W. Johnson's books such as .
For context, Johnson is a Rhodes Scholar, self-avowed communist, and longtime ANC sympathizer (since long before '91), which IMHO lends his few critical-of-ANC opinions mainstream credibility.
If you disagree with him for some reason, it's easy to find other observers who fit your political taste to corroborate his claims.
The South Koreans indeed mention that the US played a major role in having this happen.
It would be cosmically ironic if peace is achieved in this instance given the prev admin winning the peace Nobel while achieving no peace at all.
The North Korean government has a small but credible nuclear deterrent in the form of a warhead stockpile + ICBMs. That's only happened in the last year or two.
My take is Am pressure on China turned China against supporting NK antics, in combination with the new Am admin to willingness to engage (diplomatically and otherwise) resulted in NK feeling alone and unprotected and thus willing to cut a deal for peace. Time will tell.
So, the threat of millions of lives has existed since the detente. The main thing changing is the willingness of Am to apply true pressure and pass that pressure on to “friends” of NK as well as engage diplomatically. NK has not suffered from not having a credible MAD option.
But it’s not a done deal. It’ll take time.
It seems in these comments people are resistant to credit Ams because that would admit the current admin’s strategy is better than the prev admin’s failed strategy and people are loath to do that for political reasons.
"If you hit our leadership with a bunker buster we'll wipe out LA" is something new for them to be able to credibly claim, and likely makes them feel quite a bit more comfortable.
> It seems in these comments people are resistant to credit Ams because that would admit the current admin’s strategy is better than the prev admin’s failed strategy and people are loath to do that for political reasons.
It may be a better strategy, but I think we'll only know that years from now. Lots of potential potholes lie ahead.
edit: Downvote all you like. If you don't think foreign leaders interacting with the US have a "praise Trump for something" note on their briefings these days, I dunno what to tell you. Especially when you're as closely allied with the US as SK is. Playing to his ego is going to be a common tactic for anyone who wants something from the US.
What I know is this, there is a huge team of American civilian and military that worked hard to tackle the DPRK problem and have achieved or at least partially achieved their objective. At the very top level these men and women are lead by one guy, Donald J Trump.
If the objective is a lasting peace on the Korean peninsula, I'm not so sure.
Here's why: https://twitter.com/QiZHAI/status/989795774975242241
I'll believe North Korea's promises when they're fulfilled. This isn't the first time relations have thawed or they've promised to get rid of their nuclear program, after all.
Seems to me that, if this normalization is for real, Kim Jong-un deserves the overwhelming amount of credit, despite obviously being the head of a horrific regime.
EDIT: Downvotes but no responses, lovely.
Generally I think people in the US just are oblivious to the shift in the power dynamic, and the position that Kim has successfully put himself in.
Sure, if you ignore the fact that South Korea had a massive political scandal resulting in impeachment of the President and switch in ruling party.
Every country has their scandals, but let's not pretend this one didn't change the political landscape a bit when the leadership swung from one party to another.
Somehow that isn't good enough to admit that maybe the country with the biggest military, the largest GDP, and a president who has at least claimed committment to helping find peace in Korea could have had something to do with finding peace in Korea.
What would it take? If Kim Jong Un himself writes a book titled "It was all Trump", then every person in South Korea, China, and Japan all write personal letters to Trump and the American people thanking them, are people still going to entertain these wild conspiracy theories that somehow everybody in the world is lying, and that they have some secret knowledge on this topic?
Thus, every statement by an official should be looked at with a critical eye, and we the public should be analyzing the pieces on the board and the incentives at play to try to deduce the truth for ourselves. Again, this is not rare or exceptional — it's the norm, especially on Hacker News. I'm not sure what you find so insane about this.
What's insane is just believing everything at face value with no understanding of the reasoning behind it. If Yahoo announced a partnership with Facebook and talked about how great a guy Zuckerberg was, would you expect everyone on HN to roll over and say, "It must be true"? Doubtful.
"Trump helped," is not a convincing statement alone. It doesn't imply anything more than, "Trump told us to say he helped." Rather, pointing to specific differences, concessions, deals, etc. that Trump made vs his predecessors would be convincing.
Straw man - the above was just objecting to this characterisation of recent SK political changes as insignificant
This is what I'm replying to.
I think we've all been in a scenario where a manager or group project member gets praised for all their hard work, when everyone in the room knows they didn't do very much.
It's entirely possible this is what South Korea is doing here. Trump's well known to be easy to negotiate with if his ego is stroked, and quick to anger if it isn't. SK risks nothing by praising him, even if it's not fully warranted... and diplomats are pretty used to mouthing bullshit.
The South Korean attribution of credit to the US should really be seen as part of the larger goal of detente, and not an independent analysis...
Consider for a second that Reagan wasn't given the Nobel Peace Prize (Gorbachev was) for the peaceful end of the Cold War. I find the "Reagan Victory School" argument far more compelling than any argument for Trump in this case.
It will be interesting to see what the Nobel Committee decides.
As is probably the only pragmatic way a deal was ever going to get done. And realistically, NK is so impoverished that a big win for him, particularly image wise, is a very small price for the rest of us to pay. I'd like to see some strategic global praise (and from Trump) lavished on Kim Jong Un, highlighting the "difficult position due to no one in particular's fault" he inherited so the NK population who do have an outside window to the world can start grass roots rumors that this is the right direction for the country.
The NK leadership could be envisioning a state like Russia with a market economy and many theoretical freedoms, but practically controlled by a mob-like oligarchy that entwines personal and military interests.
Don't forget industrial. Pretty much the slowly improving state of humanity since the mid 1800's. The US powers that be had a stranglehold on the media since the 1980's. It's just that the disruption in the media industry has finally started showing the cracks.
They may have suddenly lost the ability to use their regular test site due to collapse.
Regardless of motivations, if this is a sincere move towards peace then it is a good thing for the world.
If Kim Jong-Un can pull things off right, he and his familiy will be able to live out their lives without having to fear being deposed and murdered, probably keeping enough wealth to live in luxury for generations, and maybe going down in history as a well-regarded peacemaking hero on top of it all.
Good to be able to contribute something substantive to an HN discussion :)
I think this is it. After all this time, they were never going to surrender; it has to be something that can be pitched as a voluntary agreement between equals that doesn't compromise NK sovereignty.
It can only be "the end of the beginning". The war isn't even formally over yet. I wouldn't expect elections in Kim's lifetime, but perhaps he can become merely an ordinary dictator like Turkmenistan.
This is true in most negotiations, but something we tend to forget. Forced acceptance of an ultimatum when one party is at a significant disadvantage is the perfect environment to breed subversion and partisan resistance. The stakes may differ, but it fits human nature whether in matters of global politics or at a personal level, for instance, negotiating the scope of the next software release.
Not saying this is going on necessary, but from the game theoretic point of view it makes sense.
It seems that no amount of evidence is enough for some people.
"South Korea’s Foreign Minister tells me in Seoul that “clearly credit goes to President Trump” for bringing North Korea to the negotiating table."
Some more evidence, this time of fear and projection: "Why Kanye West's Pro-Trump Tweets Are a Real Threat"
FWIW, this definitely caused me to up my estimation of him. It went from "absolutely dismal," to "very bad." I'll also note that it's just a bit too early to tell whether this will ultimately result in a good outcome. Shaking hands is a big step. But actions talk louder than photo ops.
Electing our first black president after the great financial crisis?
Bailing Europe out of WW2 after the depression?
Well even CNN gave him credit for getting the two Koreas to talk and possibly end the 70 year old war:
"Clearly, credit goes to President Trump," Kang told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in Seoul. "He's been determined to come to grips with this from day one."
So in this case political "weakness" does seem to play well for the world?
Many Nazis not only walked away scot-free but even held positions of power after WW2. See Hans Globke, who had part in the Nuremberg Race Laws back when he worked as Ministerialdirigent in the Office for Jewish Affairs in the Ministry of Interior. And after WW2? Secretary of State and Chief of Staff of the German Chancellery in West Germany from 28 October 1953 to 15 October 1963. That kind of career was not a rarity.
So it stands to reason that its internal political climate finally worked its way around to peace and trade.
And the geopolitical utility of buffer states has been steadily eroding over the last few decades.
Kim probably felt that his rule was coming to an end if he didn't cave in.
Four things in my opinion.
1) China summoned North Korea to meet after their nuclear test site collapsed. That much is known factually. China had drawn a public redline, about the risk of their nuclear program harming Chinese people, from fallout reaching across the border. The collapsed mountain is speculated to be at high risk for leaking fallout and that it may have left a chimney. China publicly warned North Korea on this prior to the mountain collapse. It's very likely that when China summoned North Korea afterward, they were given an intimidating ultimatum.
2) There's nowhere left for North Korea to go. Kim got his nukes, a lot of them apparently. Now what? Nukes don't do anything for developing your country. They won't convince the world to get rid of the sanctions, they won't force the US to give you a lot of trade or money.
3) North Korea must see that the US is able to massively trade with other formerly hostile Communist nations in Asia, such as Vietnam and China. The US fought a horrific war with Vietnam, not dissimilar to that of North Korea. Now the US and Vietnam are large trading partners, and the US just floated an aircraft carrier next to its shores on a military buddy-buddy mission. It's impossible that Kim could see that all occurring and not understand there can be a different future.
4) North Korea can't compete in any regard militarily outside of nuclear weapons. They're 40-60 years behind the US and South Korea. That's because they're so extraordinarily poor. They do not have the resources to wage a competitive traditional war with advanced nations. You know what's great for fixing that? A dramatically bigger economy. They have a ~$25 billion economy today. You know what would be a better security context if you're them? Having a $250 billion economy, lots of money to modernize the military, lots of money for military R&D, lots of money for cultivating education domestically, and still having the same nuclear know-how to re-arm with nukes if necessary. It's the ideal outcome if you're Kim Jong Un - you plausibly remain the dictator for life as in China with Mao or Xi, and you dramatically bolster your economy.
I think Xi Jinping is quietly going to allow Trump to take the public credit. And meanwhile Xi is going to build a new bridge into Korea based around Capitalism with Chinese characteristics.
I think we'll need to look back and reflect in 10 years to see if Korea has moved closer to USA or closer to China before the real credit can be given.
When people look back in 10 years I suspect that this will be the main story, and the China angle taking a large backseat position. When people make bold predictions and the opposite happens then that make for a better story than details of geopolitical results.
This does put egg smack on the face of a lot of people though so I fully expect Trump’s role to be downplayed as much as possible. I’m already hearing and reading Trump had little/nothing to do with it but that’s ok, peace is more important than credit, and the American people can judge for themselves what happened.
...Except for his continuing antagonism of Russia (A nuclear power that, unlike North Korea, is capable of a global nuclear war) in Syria.
Which, I suppose, nobody expected, but for a different reason.
Unless, US withdraw their military presence. And US wont let that happen.
It's now in the hands of NK dictator to maneuverer between the two most powerful nations on this planet. (The SK president is not too much better than US puppet, and probably wont have much wiggle room).
As much as I desire democracy and power to everyone, these kind of powerful people conflict is so tense and entertaining.
The end of war, os innevitable, this year, or years to come, and he knows he can win this war. But at least he can go down with more in his pockets.
I think North Korea must be quite weak too. They don’t appear stronger to me but I’m no expert on the matter. I wonder how much longer that regime can maintain power. It’s lasted a lot longer than I thought it would be able to so there must be a high level of resiliency in terms of preventing rebellion and regime collapse.
There have been benefits due to his presidency.
Positives of Trump:
Apparent North Korean desire to make peace. Nato countries starting to realize that they can't forever rely on America to disproportionately defend them. Same for Japan. This may lead to the U.S. being able/willing to cut back on defense spending at some time in the future. Trump's rhetoric on trade deals seem like they may end up generating results in the form of cracking down on abuses of the system. Other countries are realizing the U.S. is not as stable as it once seemed and the over reliance on the Pax Americana may come to an end. I think this is a good thing.
By proposing major cuts to non-defense related federal programs there's a possibility that power will shift back toward states. Northern and west coast states largely prop up the southern states and Republican leaning states. There's going to be a shift in outlook on the issue of states rights if Mississippi, for instance, realizes that they may not be able to rely on federal funds to prop it up. In the coming years we'll see more left leaning people start using "states rights" as justification for policies and right leaning people will start shifting toward more federal power. The wealthy states ought to be advocating for decentralization of federal power since too much of their money goes toward the backwards states. I think that is a good thing.
This has everything to do with NK and regional politics. I wouldn't be surprised if this has more to do with China seeing an opportunity to force the US off the Korean peninsula under the guise of a peace treaty and they are using NK to achieve this aim.
Why so strong a doubt though? South Korea's officials say "Clearly, credit goes to President Trump". One would think SK foreign minister would have some insight into the process...
> And Trump has not done anything significant - he's just full of bluster and hot air which anyone outside of the US (and most of the US too) know.
It is interesting that just a few months ago everyone was sure he was going to start a war in the Korean peninsula and it wasn't just hot air.
As soon as they started talking about peace, it is back to being hot air again and have nothing to do with it?
We could at least say perhaps it had a bad influence and we would have seen peace sooner, but it's really hard to say "he had no influence" at this point.
I'm sure he does - and he's not going to say what he really thinks in public. How do you think politics actually works? SK relies on the US for security, they aren't going to be stupid enough to insult the US publicly by saying that they aren't needed (especially when the President is someone who has clearly demonstrated he needs his ego stroked).
There is also the asian cultural norms around 'saving face' which affects how and what they say. You avoid insulting those you want as an ally, and if buttering up someone is going to get a good reaction, might as well do that if it doesn't cost you anything.
> It is interesting that just a few months ago everyone was sure he was going to start a war in the Korean peninsula and it wasn't just hot air.
That's what the media reports looking to sensationalise everything. Just about everything between the NK and the US over the past few decades has been bluster and hot air - this isn't the first time NK has promised to denuclearise or have a peace treaty - the reality is that NK as just been getting on with whatever program they wanted to do regardless of what they or the US says publicly. Kim is still in power, and they have nukes.
She does. Sorry I did forget to include the original link https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/26/world/korea-summit-kang-kyung... it is Amanpour interviewing South Korean Foreign Minister, Kang Kyung-wha.
> they aren't going to be stupid enough to insult the US publicly by saying that they aren't needed (especially when the President is someone who has clearly demonstrated he needs his ego stroked).
There is something else in between singing praises and insults. Could have just been a generic praise for all parties. The interviewer didn't asks "who credit goes to". Could have praised her own boss for a change "look what we've done".
> the reality is that NK as just been getting on with whatever program they wanted to do regardless of what they or the US says publicly. Kim is still in power, and they have nukes.
Exactly and this is the first time they met. She (the foreign minister) said "I feel like someone stepped on the accelerator" since the beginning of the year. And well, Trump has certainly been preoccupied with NK for a while. Again, I can at least see saying "well he made it worse" by his actions and comments but I don't see saying he has nothing to do with it.
Just because Trump has talked about NK doesn't necessarily equate to him being the cause of actions that a country takes. Look at the history of NK/US relations ... there are decades of threats and sanctions against NK, none of them have had any real effect. Every now and then, NK makes overtures about denuclearisation and/or peace treaty, but eventually reverses course. In every case, they have done it on their schedule and on their terms.
So Trumps threats are really just another in a long string of US theats against NK. And Trump has less credibility than other presidents given he is well known to lie and bluster. So there is no evidence that NK would feel more threatened by Trump than previous Presidents.
What is different is China. China is in ascendency, particularly in the Pacific where it is blatantly trying to exert its influence everywhere in the Pacific. And NK can't survive without China's support and trade. So one scenario is China hoping to evict the US from the Korean Peninsular (as one of the conditions of NK/SK peace treaty/nuclear disarmament). NK is the puppet to make this happen.
That is far more likely the cause of NK actions than Trump. China is what makes today's scenario different from the previous similar situations.
My main point is that I see nothing different from the US side than what has happened in the past. So hence my statement that I doubt that Trump/US played much of a part in NK actions today. What the underlying driver is I can't be certain, although China is my bet.
Except that unlike other presidents, he is also crazy. He ran for President because Obama made fun of him. A crazy bully is a lot more dangerous than a smart bully. A smart bully will be afraid of consequences, a crazy one behaves erratically. In a way the crazy image is, I day say, benefiting in this case. Can you imagine Obama both calling NK leader short and fat, then swearing to nuke him? I don't. That's pretty different I'd say.
> So one scenario is China hoping to evict the US from the Korean Peninsular (as one of the conditions of NK/SK peace treaty/nuclear disarmament).
If this was all done by China, why would SK agree to that? Have they been duped and being taken advantage of? So far from what I've read US troops leaving is not a precondition of a declaration of peace and further strengthening of ties.
From China's side, would this peace process move NK closer to SK. Perhaps more cooperation. Economic ties even? Why would they lose their puppet state and buffer zone between themselves and US ally.
> My main point is that I see nothing different from the US side than what has happened in the past.
Well what did Pompeo talk about with Kim? I don't know, it was "secret" meeting. But pretty sure it wasn't about nothing.
And I'll still go with the Foreign Minister said. You might say your analysis shows nothing happened, but she is making pretty strong claims. I am inclined to believe her words. I guess we'll have to wait and see as more details come out.
With its nukes, NK can fight back - if not against the US, against SK. I agree that as a crazy President, Trump can destabilise a lot of the world, but I don't believe even he would start a nuclear war.
> If this was all done by China, why would SK agree to that?
Because it would mean peace for them - it's either accept olive branches when they are offered or remain permanently at war. In a way, they are clutching at straws - but I can't say I blame them.
> Well what did Pompeo talk about with Kim? I don't know, it was "secret" meeting. But pretty sure it wasn't about nothing.
There have been plenty of talks - open and secret - between the US and NK in the past. Nothing new here.
WaPo had a good commentary on the history of failed peace talks: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/25/opinion/north-korea-south...
- 1992: the Agreement on Reconciliation, Nonaggression and Exchanges and Cooperation between the South and the North and the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
- 2000: the South-North Joint Declaration
- 2007: South-North Joint declaration
All of those were about peace treaties and non-aggression. None of them went anywhere.
Trump is such a polarizing figure I'm not surprised people are reaching to discredit him. He's a wacko president but he's not wrong all the time.
This has always been the end-game for rogue states, and means Kim Jong-Un is basically home free. If we wanted to get rid of him we missed that opportunity when we let them get nukes.
Second, South Korea elected a liberal president as a reaction to the previous conservative president who was involved in a giant scandal. He had a strong mandate to negotiate.
Trump played a part as well, but it’s not immediately clear how much of an effect his policies had. On the other hand the first two things I mentioned are unambiguously big.
China. Follow the money. China cannot have a nuclear conflict breakout. China is making a killing* exporting. China also knows Kim and Trump are totally insane and something could go terribly wrong. I would guess during this train ride Xi Jinping put down the hammer.
President Trump evidently knew this and threatened to do this. It helps that China is so dependent on trade with the US, which means that DJT could threaten China's pocket book as well (which he did). China cooperated with the US, and Kim folded.
It's that simple.
Sure, Kim was in a strong position but for this.
Starving NK can definitely be arranged. First you make sure they cannot trade, then you wait for things to get bad. The NK economy will not thrive and almost certainly will go south. As to how much starvation is needed for regime change, I don't know, but unlike Clinton and Bush, Trump can be believed that he'll not buckle, and that he'll provide no food aid.
I'm kinda trolling but not really.
It occurred to me a week or two ago that he, of all people, might actually be able to switch US to the Metric System and make it stick.
I think the difference between Trump and most other politicians is not the level of BS, but that he's always winking. I've often heard that his supporters don't take him literally, but take him seriously, and his haters take him literally, but not seriously. I think there's a lot of truth to that, and despite the carpet bombing of propaganda and hatred from the MSM won't be able to cover up forever that he's accomplished some good things.
ISIS would beg to differ.
People here say their nuclear program is a failutre, but they already tested the H-bomb as working, and it does look like it can fit in a warhead: http://s.newsweek.com/sites/www.newsweek.com/files/styles/lg...
They probably feel they're in a strong enough negotiating position now to resume six-party talks: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-party_talks