Pressuring Pyongyang
The Bittersweet Fruits of Trump’s North Korea Policy
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  • Suzy Dixon

    I know a little bit about pipelines, and I know you can’t just turn one off carrying oil, but until the Chinese Communist Party starts the process of shutting down the “Friendship Pipeline” to support their pets in the Kim family then it won’t happen without force. And do you think they want to shut down the “Friendship Pipeline” supplying the regime they’ve backed for 66 years?

  • leoj

    “Tillerson’s working against—I applaud what he’s done, but he’s working against the unified view of our intelligence agencies, which say there’s no amount of pressure that can be put on them to stop,” Mr. Corker said.

    Well, if Corker echoing our intelligence agencies see it as fruitless, then I guess the argument is over. Probably need to draw up another JCPOA for the Norks so that we are responsible for protecting their nuclear assets… But seriously, while it may be true that economic pressure won’t work against Kim, that doesn’t necessarily hold for all those around him. I wonder what the intelligence picture actually looks like.

    Effective pressure on Pyongyang’s enablers is not coming from the President’s Twitter feed but from the State Department and Treasury—the same “deep state” bureaucracies that Trump so reviles. In short, the Administration’s success stories have happened in spite of Trump, not because of him.

    This is probably true, but also misses the point I think. Imagine if Kim is toppled somehow related to US action. Many, many people will point to Trump’s twitter tirades as a factor in that, regardless of how many Vox explainers are written to show that it was in fact factor X that explains Kim’s demise. Obama needed a team of Special Ops to take out a mostly powerless sleeping diabetic. Trump topples nuclear-armed states with… however many characters twitter allows on its publishing platform.

    • Tom

      Don’t count the chickens just yet. Let’s see if the DPRK is still armed with nukes at the end of Trump’s time in office.

      • leoj

        Oh, I’m not saying it will be successfully. I assume it won’t, actually, since all we have to go on are those intelligence agencies and their unified assessment. Still, they have been wrong before–recently, too.

    • D4x

      At this point, what difference does it make when Sean Keeley believes Tillerson and Mnuchin are still waiting for their stationery while the “Deep State” authors every move on Obama-autopilot; and prefers the authority of Sen Corker’s affirmation that President Trump is the Cat in the Hat with a Twitter account, spending his days in First Lady Melania’s Shoe.
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/666157b726407e48b93bb127abdd2e542023c623785b0fcd7bf068f52d633da1.jpg

      Sean cites TAI so much he does not have time to notice that POTUS Trump has been leading every bilateral, speaking on the phone with every follow-up, Head of State to Head of State; directing Sec Mattis, Sec Tillerson, Sec Mnuchin, VP Pence, including their early travel meets, on the full court economic and diplomatic squeeze applied to the DPRK:
      06 30 2017 South Korean President Moon Jae-in, White House Cabinet Room, working meeting
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bee052142d430826acfcfb7c5977b10295de9a223e207a107da1f675d9b24b56.jpg

      Jan. 28 https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/28/readout-presidents-call-prime-minister-shinzo-abe-japan
      Jan. 29 https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/29/readout-presidents-call-acting-president-hwang-kyo-ahn-republic-korea
      Feb. 3 https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1070902/remarks-by-secretary-mattis-and-defense-minister-han-in-seoul-republic-of-korea/
      Feb 16 G-20: https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/02/267677.htm U.S.-ROK-Japan Foreign Ministerial Joint Statement on the Situation in North Korea
      Mar 16-19: Japan, ROK, China: https://www.state.gov/secretary/travel/2017/t3/index.htm
      Apr. 7: VP Pence Seoul: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/04/17/remarks-vice-president-and-south-korean-acting-president-hwang-joint

      I do recall a coherent strategic vision that sounded something like ‘China has to stop Kim Jong-Un, or we will.’
      06 29 2017 South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife Kim Jung-sook, White House State Dining Room, dinner. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/aa0c0d07ded3c44162eddc42390d2853ab0a84ed1c2a914a4d7f921ba9883012.jpg

      • leoj

        SK gets some big things right, though, imo. Such as: “This only makes the President’s recent rift with Tillerson more regrettable, since it undercuts Tillerson’s standing as a credible interlocutor and could cut off promising diplomatic avenues.” This was the point I was trying to make with regards to the Lowry piece this past weekend. It’s good that you remind us the president and staff are much more than the lingering odor of his bad press. I’m just reminded of a passage in Warhol’s Philosophy book about good and bad B.O. [box office]. Trump always has good B.O.: ‘Good b.o. means good “box office.” You can smell it from a mile away. The more you spell it out, the bigger the smell, and the bigger the smell, the more b.o. you get.’

        Great long read from Smith in the Fusion GPS series
        http://thefederalist.com/2017/10/10/u-s-media-help-russia-destabilize-united-states/

        • D4x

          10 04 2017: “there’s an overarching U.S. strategy to dealing with North Korea, and each senior U.S. official is more or less playing his role appropriately.” https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2017/10/04/the_trump_administrations_north_korea_strategy_112433.html makes the most sense, of everything I have read.
          The bigger concern is America’s credibility – rest of the world media is either ignoring these embarrassing anonymous leaks that dominate our ‘news’, or thinking something is getting lost in translation, because American media has gone insane.

          SK references AB’s even worse post – that ‘rift’ was manufactured by a leaker, at the same time the Obama-sanctioned Ben Rhodes echo chamber re-charged to create the meme that de-certifying is the same as exiting JCPOA. No such thing as coincidence.

          The rest of the world, more insulated from America’s insanity, might indeed think Tillerson’s credibility is damaged, but I doubt that applies to anyone with impact on North Korea. Months of meeting, promises, follow-ups, and, those who count, really do want a peaceful Peyongchang2018 without Kim Jong-Un conducting missile launches over the biathlon venue, or artillery fire at snowboarders.

          • leoj

            I agree with you generally, but at this point we all need to accept that the media has lost its marbles and plan and act accordingly. Trump seems to have adapted (other than his occasional whining), but how about Tillerson?

          • D4x

            Reading the transcripts from the State Department Press Briefings is better than any script by Aaron Sorkin.
            Sec. Tillerson? He’s just fine. Heather Nauert’s DPB notes he had lunch with POTUS & Sec Mattis after this briefing in the Situation Room: October 10, 2017 https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/10/10/statement-press-secretary-president-donald-j-trumps-meeting-his-national This morning President Donald J. Trump met with members of his national security team to receive a briefing from Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford. The briefing and discussion focused on a range of options to respond to any form of North Korean aggression or, if necessary, to prevent North Korea from threatening the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons.

            Oct. 10, 2017: https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2017/10/274729.htm#DEPARTMENT2 3:04 – 3:44 pm EDT
            MS NAUERT: [starts with Liberia] “For the first time in three generations Liberians will be transferring presidential authority democratically and peacefully from one elected leader to another.” As a longstanding friend of the United States, the United States wants to congratulate Liberians for exercising their democratic right to vote. We are proud to stand with them today in support of their efforts to continue building their country, its democracy, and its future. And I’d be happy to take your questions. Where’d you like to start?

            [Matt Lee, AP] QUESTION: Right. Thanks. Apropos of nothing, what’s the Secretary’s IQ? (Laughter.)

            FIFTH QUESTION: — what he might have gotten on his SATs? Anything like that? No?
            MS NAUERT: Do you have a real question?
            [substance on urkey; Israel; Iran JCPOA]
            MS NAUERT: Okay? Anything else on Iran? We’ll go to Felicia finally. Hi, Felicia.

            QUESTION: Hey, thanks. Do you have any sort of readout or description of the meeting that the Secretary had earlier today with President Trump and Secretary Mattis?
            MS NAUERT: So the Secretary was at the White House today for a series of three meetings. He attended a meeting in the Situation Room with the President and the national security team. One of the topics they discussed was North Korea. The Secretary then had lunch with the President and also Secretary Mattis. They also talked about Turkey and Iran as well. Sarah Sanders had addressed this a little bit earlier, and she talked about how the President and the Secretary are working hand in hand to move the agenda forward. In speaking with some of our folks who were over there with the President – pardon me, the Secretary and the President, that – the meetings were described as positive.

            QUESTION: What was the third one?

            QUESTION: Did the Secretary have any assurances on his job security?
            …[I can not count the part Questions]
            QUESTION: Specifically on that point, this issue of a potential rift was addressed last week by yourself and by Secretary Tillerson in his press availability. Was he disappointed that it was kind of revived by the President’s interview in Forbes, where he made his joke about their relative IQ levels?

            MS NAUERT: I think the President’s allowed to joke. He’s allowed to have a sense of humor, as we all are.

            QUESTION: Is that all it was – is that all it was seen at – it wasn’t seen as kind of a dig or —

            MS NAUERT: No. I mean, look, the President is entitled to make jokes. It’s a heavy world; it’s a tough world. And the Secretary is more than fine with that.

            …[eight Questions later]
            QUESTION: One thing, does the Secretary feel the need to prove, with some kind of metric, how smart he is? Does he feel like he’s in competition with the President or other members of the cabinet as to who’s smarter?

            MS NAUERT: No, Matt.
            [on to substance on North Korea, Venezuela, Turkey, Cuba.]”

            October 11, 2017 https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/10/274732.htm
            “Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan will travel to Tokyo and Seoul for a Deputies-level trilateral meeting hosted by the Republic of Korea on October 18. The trilateral meeting will focus on strategic coordination related to the urgent threat from DPRK’s advancing nuclear weapons program and include discussion on regional and global areas of cooperation.

            The Deputy Secretary also will hold bilateral meetings in Tokyo from October 16-17 and in Seoul from October 18-19. He looks forward to engaging with U.S. Embassy staff in both Seoul and Tokyo, U.S. Forces Korea in Seoul, as well as representatives from the business community and civil society.”

            Also on Oct. 10, Special briefing: https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/10/274726.htm “…Make no mistake – Hizballah has no political wing. It is a single organization, a terrorist organization, and it is rotten to its core. …
            it’s important to recall that Hizballah hasn’t developed its military and terrorist capabilities on its own. It has become the global threat it is today for one reason: Tehran’s deep and abiding assistance. … ”

            My immunity to the insane media, and worse than insane punditry, is because I keep reading whitehouse.gov, State.gov, and Defense.gov.

          • D4x

            Links to biographies of the Deputy Assistant Secretaries of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, incl. Ratney and Lempert. https://www.state.gov/p/nea/principals/index.htmIt is still difficult for me to read their experience and think ‘deep state ideologues’ – my reaction remains ‘good, relevant experience, redeemable, and deployable professionals’. These positions do not require confirmation. They all report to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, currently Tom A Shannon, demoted twice since since Feb. 1, replaced by Tillerson, and then Sullivan. Yes, he looks like a deep stater, but, he was not asked to resign. Sullivan is the new #2 at State, and 100% speaking for the Secretary.

            Apologies for being cryptic – trying to figure out the re-organization, because a new nominee is coming: Stephen Akard of Indiana to be Director General of the Foreign Service, the key Human Resources post.

          • leoj

            Link didn’t work. Again, I don’t have any special concern about them. Are you thinking about this because of Credo’s piece from yesterday? http://freebeacon.com/national-security/trump-admin-will-not-commit-designating-irgc-terror-group/

          • D4x

            Was studying State Dept organization, to see where nominees fit, etc. Re: the link? It seems the search for bios for Asst Sec in different Bureaus has to start with the Under-Secretary for Political Affairs (Shannon), so I edited that link above, and: https://www.state.gov/p/

            I had not read Kredo, but interesting there WAS, on Oct. 10, “Special Briefing on U.S. Efforts to Counter Hizballah Nathan A. Sales Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism; Nicholas J. Rasmussen, National Counterterrorism Center Director” https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/10/274726.htm
            which I duplicate here, as it was before the Dept Press Briefing I noted earlier. Sales and Rasmussen hint that the governments of Lebanon and Iraq are included in the Hizbullah strategy. Could be they are using that ‘model’ to figure out how to go after IRGC.

            I stopped reading other opinions/assessments on ‘Iran’ after Pillar at TNI – it read as if Ben Rhodes had written it.
            Oops – just read Jonathan Schanzer at The Atlantic: good voice, brings in the IRGC, and “whatever challenges loom will be the cost of shattering the paralysis in Washington that has reduced America’s Iran policy to a false binary of either hewing to the nuclear deal or war.”
            https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/10/iran-nuclear-deal-trump-decertification/542520/

            The WH realized not enough people can understand the difference between JCPOA, and the Corker-Cardin certification mandate, so the strategy is not ready for primetime on Oct. 12, maybe Oct. 13. Hope it does not come down to ThreeTweets at 3 am on False Binary. needs work….

          • leoj

            Great piece by Schanzer. Thanks for the link!

          • D4x

            Yes, Schanzer nailed it, but The Atlantic commentariat proves how too many Literates are Clueless, clinging to their hysteria.

          • leoj

            I know. Kind of shocking, actually. The anti-American/pro-Iran invective is intense–still hard to believe that something akin to this attitude reigned in the WH for 8 years…

          • D4x

            “… the whole point of trust but verify. President Obama may have trusted the Iranians—but then President Obama trusted Harvey Weinstein to oversee his daughter’s post-high school internship earlier this year. …”

            http://freebeacon.com/national-security/repeal-replace-farsi/ Continetti on legacies and echo chambers: this one is the BEST. Will it stop the lemmings?

            I was going to take a break from the hysteria, after my 3 a.m. read: https://www.timesofisrael.com/french-candidate-defeats-qatari-to-win-unesco-leadership/

          • leoj

            Read that one yesterday–great piece indeed. Very interesting interview with Macron just published in spiegel. Just read snippets, will read more later today…
            http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/interview-with-french-president-emmanuel-macron-a-1172745.html

          • D4x

            Re: Der Spiegel interview with Macron. http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/interview-with-french-president-emmanuel-macron-a-1172745.html He is much smarter than I thought. I hope Azoulay shares Macron’s insight from that interview:

            “If you like, post-modernism was the worst thing that could have happened to our democracy. The idea that you have to deconstruct and destroy all grand narratives is not a good one.”

            Macron’s dog Nemo is a winner. If Trump did get a pet, that would consume the news cycle, possibly not the first time:
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4f2390a564ecf4b4940416b8e152b5feef01554e51339e7f70d86cf0f25e64cd.jpg “‘The 25th President of the United States, President William McKinley, served from 1897-1901. He owned a yellow-headed Mexican parrot named Washington Post. Reportedly, the parrot was quite patriotic. When McKinley whistled the beginning of “Yankee Doodle” the parrot would complete it.” $14.95
            https://shops.mountvernon.org/products/william-mckinleys-parrot-was-25087

          • leoj

            I read both of the pieces, actually (lest there be confusion). It seems azoulay was a move to placate the US/Israelis. Too little too late for the moment I am guessing. Smarter to reform the UNHRC at the moment than this rearguard action… The big news of course is this Egypt brokered palestinian unity govt. and israel’s muted response.

          • D4x

            UNESCO’s Executive Board has six geographic ‘identity’ groups, and the Arab Group thought it was finally ‘their turn’. Once the Qatar ‘blockade’ turned the UNESCO vote into a proxy war between the Qatari and Egyptian candidates, Macron supported Azoulay’s candidacy as a compromise. The USA has withdrawn from UNESCO before; almost every UN Ambassadorship is vacant; and, this decision takes effect end of 2018. Was the USA announcement timed to possibly help Macron sway a few more votes? Alas, there is no record of vote by nation.

            DailyNewsEgypt has her as more Moroccan than French, and does not mention her religion.
            https://dailynewsegypt.com/2017/10/14/profile-new-director-general-unesco/

            Azoulay has an impressive CV – an elitist who actually gets stuff done, not least her efforts in the protection of endangered heritage in conflict zones, especially Mosul.
            http://en.unesco.org/sites/default/files/azoulay_france_cv_en.pdf

            Because UNESCO also does have a role to play, in education and science, at minimum, Azoulay has a
            chance to restore credibility, although hard to see how to reverse the UNESCO postmodern history of Jerusalem and Cave of the Patriarchs. The sole purpose, imo, was to bestow historical legitimacy on the palestinians,
            especially useful for their lawfare & BDS campaigns.

            As for UNHRC? Good faith effort well stated:
            June 6, 2017 Remarks at the Graduate Institute of Geneva on “A Place for Conscience: the Future of the United States in the Human Rights Council” Ambassador Nikki Haley U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations U.S. Mission to the United Nations Geneva, Switzerland

            …America does not seek to leave the Human Rights Council. We seek to reestablish the Council’s legitimacy. …First, the UN must act to keep the worst human rights abusers from obtaining seats on the Council. … Second,
            the Council’s Agenda Item Seven must be removed. …” https://usun.state.gov/remarks/7828
            More at ” https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/03/269155.htm https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/06/272182.htm and https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/10/274577.htm
            but, glaciers move faster than the UNHRC, with less opacity. …The US fought to get re-elected, and the fight to remove Agenda Item Seven will be relentless. The UN Peacekeeping reform did get adopted, and that was the correct priority.

            I am following the Kirkuk-Kurdistan story; and also an update on Russia’s Astana Process: Syria safe zones. Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, maybe Iraq, just got invited to join http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/un-umbrella-a-must-to-enforce-peace-1.2105713 Makes sense for Israel to be as muted as possible – all of it relates to Iranian ‘meddling’.

          • D4x

            The palestinians once again get displaced in the news:
            Rudaw is updating this link: 10 16 2017 “LIVE: Iraqi forces, Shiite militia engage in fighting with Peshmerga south of Kirkuk”
            http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/151020177

            They added the LIVE in the past hour – and, it is the big news, preceded by:

            10 14 2017 “SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – The Commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Major General Qassem Soleimani, paid a visit to the tomb of former Iraqi president and PUK leader Jalal Talabani in Sulaimani on Saturday, laying a wreath, Aras Sheikh Jangi, Talabani’s nephew, told Rudaw.”[photos]
            http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/141020175

            10 15 2017 Iran is closing their border with Iraqi Kurdistan, “ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Trade between Iran and the KurdistanRegion has ceased Sunday morning after Iran closed the three official border crossings, according to Kurdish officials.”
            http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/151020171

            al-Monitor reported this last week: “Washington appears to have taken charge of the Harir base, also known as Bashur Airfield, 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of the Haji Omran border crossing with Iran.”
            I then got distracted studying maps, and the status. Blackhawks and Apaches, a serious airfield, used to deliver Abrams tanks in C-130s. We used it in place of Incirlik in 2003 . Flights from Ramstein to Romania to Bashur/Harir. Then abandoned, rebuilt in 2015, for the fight against ISIS.
            Location is amazing when you zoom out, step by step..

          • D4x

            You were too quick at TAI today. I was testing html tags in the wrong feature, but inserted a cartoon worthy of Trump’s Re-Election Strategy that you would also upvote – moving onto unicorns instead of lemmings. Just posted what you read, at Spyer’s post. While typing this, Haley spoke at UN & Jennifer Griffin @ Fox just showed 6:33 pm EDT photos of sanctioned IRGC leaders in Kirkuk, including Quds’ Soleimani.

            NOT going to comment anymore on Iran meddlers for a few days – as tempting as it is to follow in real time. When are these pundits, even Spyer and Lake, going to learn they are not getting a bullet point strategy?

          • leoj

            Interesting. I will check it out. I thought you were performing a little of your own resistance to to Cain’s garbage. Maybe trying to bait the ‘toto’ bot into copying and pasting from whatever script it is programmed to draw from.

          • D4x

            Oct 18 was a busy day.

            http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/10/russia-shoigu-visit-israel-syria-iran-military-liberman.html
            links to:
            http://www.tanks-encyclopedia.com/modern/Russia/BMPT-terminator.php

            10 18 2017 1:00 pm EDT Israel discusses results of Kurdistan’s referendum with Russia http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/181020175

            2:00 pm EDT: Rosneft announcement
            http://www.rudaw.net/english/business/18102017 [Confirmed by AFP, TASS, Bloomberg, RFE]

            4:00 pm EDT: UNSC statement; Abadi talks with Tillerson and Macron; then Abadi “ordered all other armed groups to leave the city.” http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/181020178

            8:00 pm EDT ERBIL, “Kurdistan Region – Hashd
            al-Shaabi has withdrawn its forces from urban areas in a number of towns it has taken from the Kurdish Peshmerga…” http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/19102017

            That BMPT Terminator is too cool…
            NewTAI, not so much.

          • leoj

            I’ll check these out a little later. Was at TAI last night during the transformation but haven’t gone there today. I will see who they have writing for them, but I could be saving myself 3 dollars a month soon.

          • D4x

            http://www.military.com/daily-news/2017/10/19/oped-will-kurdish-statehood-upend-middle-east.html ‘Op-ed’ that describes the language,& political divisions in Greater Kurdistan, with a pessimistic conclusion.

            10 19 2017 Glick nails it (and cites Speyer at TAI): http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Irans-very-good-week-507929?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

            Am posting a full comment on Kurdistan’s NRTV as real news at Speyer: https://iraq.liveuamap.com/en/2017/20-october-small-demonstration-near-to-us-consulate-in-erbil
            They use icons to link to their reporters’ Tweets, which have Disqus threads. It is really cool.

            TAI changed the home page format. Many Features are now Columnists, and, no way to ‘view previous posts’, like AB on Kirkuk, or this one. Only a matter of time before they drop Disqus.
            RCPolitics changed to Spot.im but, so far , not RCW. LU changed to Spot.im, but at least you can post a comment without sign-in, which means an email account. See you somewhere else!

          • leoj

            Yeah, I’m wondering where the old Via Meadia crew went (Willick, AB, SK).

            You’ll like this piece knocking lowry down a few pegs: http://donsurber.blogspot.com/2017/10/the-cognitive-dissonance-pundit.html?spref=tw

            Lake has a piece adding some detail to glick: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-10-20/u-s-tried-and-failed-to-stave-off-iraq-s-advance-on-the-kurds

          • D4x

            So far, they live online, just not clickable from the homepage.

            Surber’s key point: style over substance, is one root of the pundit-resistance, from Brooks to Stephens to Garfinkle.

            I added my NRTV updates in Lake’s thread this morning. His recent posts comment threads are not inviting, like al-monitor, which now requires a section for Russia in the ME. From Oct. 18, on Israel & Syria: “Tehran is resolved to expand and solidify its presence. Moscow doesn’t see that situation as its own fight …” http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/10/russia-shoigu-visit-israel-syria-iran-military-liberman.html

            “Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military
            Affairs Tina Kaidanow will travel to Israel, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq. October 22-November 1, for discussions on a variety of international security issues.” https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/10/274971.htm
            She is the link between State and Defense. 1st Amb to Kosovo, reported by RFE to be quietly effective, inclusive of Serbians. Sounds like a career professional.

            “U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel to Riyadh,
            Doha, Islamabad, New Delhi, and Geneva October 20-27.
            In Riyadh, Secretary Tillerson will take part in the inaugural Coordination Council meeting between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The Secretary will also meet with various Saudi leaders to discuss the conflict in Yemen, the ongoing Gulf dispute, Iran, and a number of other important regional and bilateral issues.”
            https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/10/274946.htm

            Lot of moving parts…

        • Andrew Allison

          The so-called “rift” is a DTS delusion created by all the usual anonymous sources.

          • leoj

            Maybe. Did Trump have a falling out with McMaster? Maybe, but public perception is less relevant here as long as the chain of command is respected and soldiers follow orders. Did Trump have a falling out with Sessions? Maybe, but public perception is less relevant here as long as the Justice Dept. recognizes Trump as head of the executive branch.

            In fact, the one instance where perception becomes more relevant is in the diplomatic sphere. The piece by Lowry I mentioned raises some important questions concerning the affair.

            Who knows the truth of the NBC story that he was close to quitting last summer over clashes with President Donald Trump? But Tillerson’s strange press availability swearing his loyalty to the president is not the sort of thing loyalists usually have to do.

            The secretary of state dodged questions about whether he had, indeed, as NBC reported, called Trump a “moron” — almost certainly the first time in U.S. history a cabinet official has been asked about personally insulting the president he works for and apparently been unable, in good conscience, to deny it.
            http://www.nationalreview.com/article/452385/rex-tillerson-donald-trump-tillerson-should-resign

            If it’s a delusion, dispelling it has not been handled well.

    • Jeff77450

      “…while it may be true that economic pressure won’t work against Kim, that doesn’t necessarily hold for all those around him.” Excellent point. However unlikely a successful coup is, it’s not impossible. A “successful” coup could create a host of new problems, e.g. millions of refugees headed north & south. I’m not a strategist or a policy-wonk and the following isn’t the least bit profound, but my gut tells me that if we don’t deal with this decisively this time around the end-result is going to be quite ugly.

      • leoj

        I agree. Ultimately I think ‘Suzy Dixon’ is right that the path to solving the issue (not just the nuclear issue, but the larger concern about a post-Kim North Korea that you mention) goes through China.
        China’s takeover of North Korea, as Emmott sees it, would put North Korea “where the country’s post-Korean War history suggests it belongs: under a Chinese nuclear umbrella, benefiting from a credible security guarantee.”

        He also said he sees incentives for North Koreans to go along with the plan: “Whereas a nuclear exchange with the U.S. would mean devastation, submission to China would promise survival, and presumably a degree of continued autonomy.”

        Emmott said this strategy could win over a majority of North Korea’s military, “except those closest to Kim.”
        https://www.voanews.com/a/analyst-scenario-china-takeover-north-korea/4060505.html

  • Psalms13626

    The status quo politics and policy got us to where we are with North Korea. Trump is shaking up the status quo because he finds it unacceptable. This is like a risky real estate investment. Get this one wrong, you are bankrupt. Get it right, you are hero. Will be interesting to see how this shakes out.

  • Angel Martin

    This is so stupid.

    America has been worried for the past 70 odd years about what Kim Il Sung will do.

    For the first time ever, Kim Il Sung is worried about what America will do.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/north-korea-donald-trump-analysts-republican-washington-a7971411.html

    • RedWell

      Classic analytical mistake: assuming the adversary will behave differently than you yourself would. Would the US respond positively to being backing into a corner? Keeley is right: North Korea would rather watch its people starve and its oil grind to a halt before it gives up its nukes.

      What’s wrong with pressure and containment? We can’t “solve” North Korea, and we don’t need to. That’s not desirable, but there is a reason we’ve had that stalemate: it’s not worth toppling for any party.

      A truly savvy policy would be to keep up pressure and wait for an opportune moment. Reagan, for example, didn’t get too far with his arms buildup but did leap forward with a new regime in Gorbachev.

      • Angel Martin

        The classic liberal mistake. Be nice to dictators and they will co-operate.

        One thing we do know from the archives of both Nazi Germany and the USSR is how much they feared strong leadership and aggressive action from the West.

        The USSR feared Reagan, and laughed at Carter.

        And as Hitler himself said: I saw them at Munich. They are worms.

  • AaronL

    I’ve got some questions I really don’t have enough information about so I ‘d really appreciate serious answers from posters
    1. I’ve read that N. Korea is totally dependent on outside sources for oil.
    a. is this true?
    b. if so would a total oil boycott result in the complete collapse of the N. Korean economy?
    c. who is supplying N. Korea with it’s oil? China? Russia? Iran ? other countries? Couldn’t a U.S. threat to totally destroy N. Korea pressure the Chinese or Russians to stop supplying oil to N. Korea? Couldn’t a U.S. sea and land blockade stop any other oil imports?
    Are the above scenarios feasible. Would such actions result in a war initiated by N. Korea.
    Would a limited U.S. tactical nuclear counterforce strike destroy within a short period of time N. Korea’s ability to wage war?
    Would such an American strike result in unacceptable casualties from fallout in S. Korea and/or Japan?
    Would there be specific weather conditions that could result in a smaller radiation fallout footprint?
    Would really appreciate an answer from all posters who have sufficient professional knowledge to provide reliable answers.

    • FriendlyGoat

      I don’t know the answers to your questions but would compliment you on a proper use of a comment section.

  • Anthony

    Is North Korea America’s problem to bear – we are the only country in the world with a global military capability. So, a perplexing question is does the United States take action or does North Korea become a nuclear state (by the way, 25 million people live in the Seoul Metropolitan Area in reach of North Korean artillery). https://geopoliticalfutures.com/north-korea-nukes-negotiations/ and https://geopoliticalfutures.com/north-korea-american-dilemma

  • rheddles

    What’s Little Rocket Man going to do? If he gets kinetic with US/ROK, China has publicly said it will not back LRM. So Trump can say whatever he wants and do whatever is legal and LRM has to take it. If he decides to strike out, he’ll have to consider whether he’d rather be occupied by US/ROK or the ChiComs. I’d say Trump has successfully turned the tables on LRM.

  • Charles Martel

    Deterrence is advanced by credible threats, which Trump – unlike Obama – is effectually making. And those threats are also fitting into the isolation efforts started by Obama and accelerated under Trump – it may be that economic costs would be insufficient alone to induce Pyongyang to come to the table, but combined with the risk of a pre-emptive strike from the USA, there might be sufficient incentive for Kim to come to the bargaining table. At least it is worth trying, and there is no doubt that Trump’s rhetoric is making it more and not less likely that it will work.

    I will note that Obama has damaged the ability of the United States to effectually induce rogue regimes to negotiate with the West. Ghaddafi did exactly what we want Kim to do – he gave up his nuclear programme in exchange for a let-up on international isolation and anti-regime activity by the West. Then, when the opportune moment arose, Obama cast that arrangement aside and instead bombed Libyan government forces and killed Ghaddafi himself. Hard to imagine a stronger lesson that the US is an untrustworthy bargaining partner.

  • Douglas Levene

    It’s true that the the Fat Boy will not voluntarily give up his nukes. But I don’t think that’s the strategic goal here. As I see it, there are only three options on North Korea: accommodation, war and regime change. So far as I can tell, the administration is pursuing regime change – hoping to completely isolate North Korea and cut off its vital supplies, leading to economic collapse and regime change. Might work.

  • North Korea is a nation which never should have been allowed into the United Nations, much less allowed to exist. But anything is preferable to war.

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