Pressuring Pyongyang
After Sanctions, China Tentatively Tightens the Screws on North Korea
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  • FriendlyGoat

    We have learned that Kim talks like Kim. Now we are hearing Trump talk like Trump. Ain’t it somethin’ that sensible minds of the world find themselves tasked with negotiating around both of them?

    • ——————————

      Actually FG, the “world” has found it self negotiating ‘because’ of Trump, not “around” Trump. I just wanted to clear that up for you.

      It sure is refreshing to have a president that has a pair, after the last 8 years….

      • D4x

        Yes, about time we had a POTUS with the brass to speak in the language that will be understood, in a state of war, as the freezer stops working: “…South Korea and the United States remain technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.
        The South Korean capital, Seoul, is home to roughly 10 million people and within range of massed North Korean rockets and artillery, which would be impossible to destroy in a first U.S. strike. …”

        That relevant bit of info is buried in Part 1, of a comprehensive five-part report from Reuters, from:
        August 7, 2017 / 8:27 PM /Trump boasts of U.S. nuclear arsenal after ‘fire and fury’
        August 8, 2017 / 6:28 PM North Korea says seriously considering plan to strike Guam
        August 8, 2017 / 9:36 PM /Japanese fighters conducted air drills with U.S. B-1B bombers
        August 7, 2017 / 9:19 PM /Japan defense review warns of enhanced North Korea threats
        August 9, 2017 / 6:53 AM /China urges calm over North Korea

        The time stamps are important, because The Hindu reports Trump’s “fire and fury” statement came AFTER NorK’s Kim threatened Guam, but US media claims BEFORE. Plus, Guam is to the west of the International Date Line, the rest of America is to the east, making it hard to know who said what on which day.

        Reuters probably gets it correct: “…Trump’s Twitter messages about the nuclear arsenal came after North Korea said it was considering plans for a missile strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam. That in turn followed Trump’s comments on
        Tuesday that any North Korean threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury.”

        …Tillerson said that with his “fire and fury” warning, the U.S. president was trying to use the kind of language that would
        resonate with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. North Korea regularly threatens to destroy the United States.

        “What the president is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong Un would understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language,” Tillerson said. …”

        What is confusing is the TAI post has same Reuters URL, links to my citation here, but I can not find any mention of Tillerson’s “four Nos”, and certainly nothing about seafood exports, point which makes Keeley’s post read like a primer on appeasement, forgetting we ARE in a state of war, frozen unsuccessfully by the post-WW2 “liberal international order”

        One thought is that Trump did not define “fire and fury”. Perhaps he was alluding to the Olympic Torch fire lighting scheduled for Oct. 24, for the 2018 PeyongChang Winter Olympics? And the fury? Perhaps he can convince Hillary to call Kim Jong-Un and rant at him for 43 minutes, with “blunt language…relaying the anger”, as she did in 2010 with PM Netanyahu on building permits for apartments in Ramat Shlomo.

        • D4x, author here: thanks for the comment and your note about the link confusion. There are actually two separate Reuters stories quoted here: the first is specifically about the seafood ban enforcement along the border, and the second is more broadly about the latest North Korean developments. Alas, Reuters has a habit of frequently updating its articles, often omitting earlier passages, and in an updated version of the second story they cut the section about Tillerson’s “Four No’s” after I had linked it. But I’ve relinked the original version, reposted elsewhere, which includes that passage.

          And I certainly did not intend to make the post a “primer on appeasement,” more an acknowledgment that Trump’s fiery rhetoric (which by all accounts was off-the-cuff) could exacerbate Chinese concerns that the U.S. isn’t serious about dialogue, and complicate Tillerson’s more delicate diplomacy. That said, I am far from certain that engaging Pyongyang in talks will be productive—but I don’t think that we should preclude that possibility, and I think our mixed signals on the matter may make the Chinese less willing to cooperate.

          Anyway, thanks for being a faithful reader.

          • jayupyongyang

            “Serious about dialogue”…with whom, about what? All that the decades-long obsession about dialogue with the regime of terror ensconced in Pyongyang has achieved is to buy it time, with PRC connivance at various levels, to develop the means to threaten the USA with ICBMs in the same way that its heavy artillery already threaten Seoul. The weapons development is not negotiable, as the regime minions have made clear time and again. The only possible negotiations are those concerned with the exit of the USA from the security equation on the Korean peninsula, so that the terror regime in Pyongyang may finally achieve the hegemony over all Korea (financial and moral) that it requires if it is to sustain its rule in any part of Korea at all. The elementary steps the PRC authorities are taking now at this very late hour they do so to try to preclude more severe but absolutely necessary American steps against a wide panoply of mainland China entities vital to the sustenance of the Pyongyang terror regime and its weapons programs development.

          • D4x

            TY Sean. Yes, I am aware that Reuters updates, interesting they edited Tillerson’s “Four No’s” out of a five part story. I shall edit my comment, because I was aware the seafood story probably was a separate link, but the descriptor was the same as the 5-parter. Reuters URL addresses do leave a lot to be desired.

            My read of your post was influenced by the emphasis on the seafood export ban, and several references implying concern for how China will react, co-operate, as if they are so sensitive that we need to be talking on eggshells.

            I do not know who “by all accounts” is when you write “Trump’s fiery rhetoric (which by all accounts was off-the-cuff)”.
            Is that not part of the prevailing myth that DJT is a ‘bully’, ‘erratic’, that his Tweets are spontaneous, and ‘unpresidential’?

            I stopped believing that myth one year ago, with his tweets on Khizr Khan. That was when I realized his tweets were deliberately exposing whatever hypocrisy was being deployed to falsely attack him, painting the caricature that continues to frame most of the media echo chambers that are intent on destroying the legitimacy of the office of the POTUS, by delegitimizing Donald J. Trump.

            Are you aware that Hope Hicks, WH Director of Strategic Communications reviews every POTUS Tweet before it is Tweeted? Or that Michael Anton, the Deputy Assistant to the President for Strategic Communications on the NSC, might still have his predecessor’s job description, when it was Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, of ‘Media’, ‘Speechwriting’, and ‘Global Engagement’?

            “Fire and Fury” may not have been poll tested, but it was most certainly carefully crafted.

            Thank you for reading my comment.

          • D4x

            “Question 2: Has President Trump made the Korean crisis worse?

            Answer: That remains to be seen, but the U.S. escalation of rhetoric was done quite deliberately. It appears to be a premediated strategy, not a reckless impulse. Trump and his national security team apparently believe that continuing to wait, an approach President Obama spun as “strategic patience,” …

            Question 3: Is the Trump administration in disarray on this issue, given that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s has offered to talk with North Korea and reassured Americans they can “sleep well”?

            Answer: …Trump’s threat echoed the chilling one President Harry Truman made after dropping the first atomic bomb in history. “We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise
            the Japanese have above ground in any city. … If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”
            Truman’s “rain of ruin” is Trump’s “fire and fury.” …”


            Commentary By Charles Lipson RCP Contributor August 10, 2017

      • FriendlyGoat

        Actually, it ain’t over ’till it’s over and you do not know who was or was not blown up until a lot of time passes. Nearly everyone on the right and left is aware that Trump’s fire and fury talk is less than helpful. Do you read at TAI, or just read me?

        • ——————————

          “Nearly everyone on the right”. No.

          “Your ballsy president is drawing red lines that are questionable wisdom.” To some, but not to others. Time to try a new approach, perhaps.

          “Do you read at TAI, or just read me?”. I read many places, but I think for my self….

          • FriendlyGoat

            If you missed my edit, please look at the link. When your president is being counseled from religion to have wars authorized by God, the doo-doo is deeper than you think.

          • ——————————

            Come on FG, that’s just one man’s opinion. I am quite sure we won’t be going to war because of a Texas pastor. War is a bit more complicated than that.
            If Kim needs to get spanked, then he will get spanked…however, I doubt it will happen…but if it does, it wont go down as we think it will….

          • FriendlyGoat

            The idea is to get rid of Kim without killing too many of everyone else in NK, SK, other nations and maybe USA. As for the Texas pastor, he represents the people who have elected Trumpism. This kind of religion mindset is the MAIN Trump base now.

        • D4x

          POTUS Trump did not define “fire and fury”. Perhaps he was alluding to the Olympic Torch fire lighting scheduled for Oct. 24, for the 2018 PeyongChang Winter Olympics?

          And the fury? Perhaps he can convince Hillary to call Kim Jong-Un and rant at him for 43 minutes, with “blunt language…relaying the anger”, as she did in 2010 with PM Netanyahu on building permits for apartments in Ramat Shlomo. She was so furious that Netanyahu caved, to make sure she never called him again.

  • Unelected Leader

    What kind of negotiations do you have in mind? Negotiation is an old idea, and it’s failed multiple times in the last 20 years. The so-called six-party talks ended in catastrophic failure, and turned out to be a ruse by the Chinese Communists and the Kim regime. Also, we have precisely zero reason to expect full, consistent enforcement of the sanctions by the Chinese Communist Party. As you alluded, that would be a first in 20 years for them to do so.

    • KremlinKryptonite

      That’s all true enough, but I find Tillerson’s remarks to be a rare example of the “win win” we’ve been hearing about from the CCP.
      On the one hand, the CCP wins by Tillerson stating in plain English that the US does not seek regime change in North Korea. In essence, forcing him to say that the US is de facto fine with the continued existence of the worst regime in the world, and that it’s not actively pursuing South Korea’s long-term goal of reunification under the legitimate, elected government in Seoul.

      On the other hand, it is a win for the US, and certainly for the China hawks both inside and outside of government, by them admitting that it’s really the CCP pulling the strings, and stating in plain Mandarin that their goal is to maintain the horrible regime and the status quo of a divided Korea.

      • Frustrated Entreprenuer

        Tillerson and Trump remind me of Kissinger and Nixon.

        Good negotiating position…

        • TPAJAX

          That’s quite a charge. How are they like Nixon and Kissinger? I mean maybe they will end up that way, but so far I don’t see enough bad deals to justify that.

        • KremlinKryptonite

          Hmm I don’t see an analogy there, and I’ll tell you why. For starters, Kissinger was not Secretary of State during the critical 1972 and early 1973 negotiations, although that’s not really a big deal.
          Wasn’t so much Nixon either. Don’t forget that it was Nixon who lifted the three-year ban on bombing North Vietnam, resuming bombings in May, 1972, and for the first time targeting Hanoi.

          Kissinger was sent to Paris to meet and deal with a counterpart who was not Le Duc Tho, but as we know that’s who he really dealt with and much of the conversations remained shrouded in secrecy for some time afterward, and he had enormous latitude and deference given to him. That was nixons mistake, no doubt. In October, 1972, Kissinger’s horrible plan to allow the invading NVA to remain in South Vietnam was rejected just a few days later anyway, by SV President Thieu. Of course, a similarly bad deal would ultimately be signed by all parties in 1973, and as we know the Communists predictably broke the deal less than two years later and the teletype infamously read “Saigon has fallen. Saigon has fallen. Presidential palace taken.”

          In other words, North Korea would have to invade South Korea again, for the second time, and after some period of conflict on the peninsula Trump and Tillerson would have to push a deal which allows tens of thousands of North Koreans to remain in the south. Does that sound like Donald Trump? Even if you answer yes to that question, having learned the valuable lesson from Vietnam makes it all the less likely.

    • RedWell

      Ok, but what kind of alternate approach do you have in mind? And this is a real question. I see a lot of people criticizing the negotiation approach, such as it has been, but what is the alternative?

      Bottom line, seems to me that the situation has only two possible tracks: it can either be imperfectly managed or escalated into violence, which is unpredictable, to say nothing of the cost and lives sacrificed for an unclear end.

      True toughness might not be big talk and saber rattling but working diplomatic levers in the face of all kinds of short-term pressure.

      • Unelected Leader

        It’s not one mans decision. It’s not only up to Abe or Moon or Trump. Don’t forget that South Korea was the victim here. It was the one invaded by North Korea in 1950. The man who did it was the grandfather, Kim II Sung, who was a Russian installment and literally asked Stalin for permission. We know that the Chinese Communist Party took over the parental role of the Kim regime in the 50s but especially by the 60s as the “Sino-Soviet split” was completed.

        Negotiations failed because they’ve been used by the Chinese to stall for time. You don’t have to attack North Korea either. A third option is to follow China’s example – help allies become more powerful or at least let go of the reins. America kept Japan and SK non nuclear. Even limits the type of missiles they can have! Meanwhile china has made Pakistan and North Korea nuclear. American policy in this area has been an unbelievable, laughable failure.

        It’s time for America and China to shut their fat pie holes, frankly, and it’s time for South Korea and Japan to make their own decisions about long-range missiles and nuclear weapons and if they should decide to pursue some nuclear weapons America and the whole world needs to sit down and be quiet. Russia, China, America, the whole European Union, none of these groups have the right to say anything as they’re all liars all inconsistent on most issues anyway.

  • PCB

    China seeks regional supremacy, and an increase in U.S. military presence wouldn’t mesh well strategically; North Korea is useful to China only so long as they do not trample on China’s interests. China will be motivated to subdue NKOR in every way possible. At least until the U.S. threat goes away.

  • RedWell

    Good overview and fair analysis. One peripheral commentary: I think the term “the administration” is misused, here.

    Trump is not coordinating most or any of this. He is shooting off from his vacation while Tillerson is trying to play his role and Haley at the UN is probably the one who actually designed and pushed the sanctions thing. In other words, Haley is taking the lead.

    I could be wrong on the degree to which Haley is making things happen behind the scenes, which is a claim I base on what I see, here, along with her behavior to date. However, there is no evidence that some larger strategy is filtering down from Trump. Hence, again, “the administration” is misleading.

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