The same “voices of reason” who told us that President Trump standing up to North Korea would provoke a nuclear attack are now bloviating in panic over North Korea’s threat to pull out of the scheduled denuclearization summit. Why were these people ever put in charge of high level negotiations when they can’t recognize the most transparent negotiating tactics right in front of their eyes?
They're now clogging up the cable news channels, pulling their chin whiskers in puzzlement over why North Korea would threaten to cancel the talks over (stated reasons) joint US-South Korean military exercises and Trump expecting North Korea to “unilaterally” give up its nuclear program. Oh, and because national security advisor John Bolton referred to the Libya model of nuclear abandonment (their leader Muammar Gaddafi agreed to give up his nuclear program in 2003 and was later deposed and murdered.)
The experts wonder why those concerns would spook Kim Jong-Un. The military exercises are just business-as-usual. It’s been suggested that Kim thinks they’re a pretext for invading North Korea, but surely he must know that we have zero interest in occupying North Korea. That’s like dreaming of owning a condo in the Sahara Desert. As for “unilaterally” giving up his nuclear program: of course, that’s what the talks are about. Did he think we’d hold denuclearization talks so he could keep his nukes, or was he expecting us to give up ours, too?
As for Gaddafi's grisly fate, that had nothing to do with him giving up his nuclear program, which happened over a decade earlier. And need I remind everyone: John Bolton wasn’t running the State Department when the tragically stupid decision to decapitate Libya’s government and let it devolve into a terrorist-ridden hellhole was made. The person who did that is blessedly not in charge of our foreign policy now, as she fully expected to be.
If I were a betting man, I would wager that all these transparently bogus objections and threats to pull out of the negotiations are largely theater, designed to test Trump’s resolve, throw the US and South Korea off balance and extract better terms. They're hoping Trump will prove to be a paper tiger with a spine like an egg noodle, willing to bend to avoid leaving empty-handed, like so many diplomats they've rolled before. I would also guess that Trump won’t fall for it, having literally written the book on how to discombobulate the other side during the deal-making process. Remember, he’s already said that if he isn’t 100% satisfied with any deal, he’ll walk out. He is holding all the aces, and North Korea is trying to scare him into folding. If Kim tries to overplay his hand, Trump can simply say, “Okay, sorry you feel that way. Talks are cancelled, we’ll ratchet the sanctions and military response up even further.”
That would leave North Korea in an even weaker position (and not make China very pleased with Kim, either), so I seriously doubt they’ll push it that far. And there is nothing to prevent Trump from doing exactly that – other than the thought that a bunch of self-proclaimed experts on liberal cable news networks might say bad things about him. I’m sure he cries himself to sleep every night in fear of that happening.
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