Talking to North Korea

Donald Trump has said, a couple of times now, that he would sit down and negotiate with Kim Jong Un. But he has also said that North Korea must unilaterally disarm its nuclear weapons before that will happen. Some of his advisors have said similar things. North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons in order to talk to the United States; working toward a freeze in its development of nuclear and missile technology would be a reasonable first goal for the United States, with nuclear disarmament a far future vision.

Some of us were talking about that on Twitter today, and Victor Cha, rumored to be Trump’s choice for ambassador to South Korea, offered this:

But that’s not what Trump has said, and his NSC director H.R. McMaster has also said that North Korea must accept inspections to show that it is no longer making nuclear weapons before talks can begin, again a ridiculous requirement.

Also, Trump tweeted.

“DO NOT TRY US” sounds like Vice President Pence’s fatherly admonitions. “I am going to stop this car…” Of course, even the American President cannot expect to treat another country that way.

Meanwhile, the military has made clear that a military option against North Korea carries grave risks. A reasonable interpretation of the letter from the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Senator Representative Ted Lieu is that the military thinks an attack against North Korea to secure its nuclear sites would be exceedingly foolish.

In his speech in South Korea, Trump blasted North Korea and blustered about American military power in the region. In contrast, Dick Cheney (who was more sensible in 1991 than he was later) was much more cautious.

And, of course, Trump earlier tweeted about raining down “fire and fury” on North Korea.

Trump seems to believe that this sort of hostility will break his opponent’s will. Perhaps shouting insults across the table does that in real estate transactions. But diplomacy is done differently. It requires some subtlety and knowledge of the opponent, which is rapidly draining out of the State Department. In any case, Trump recently stated that he alone is sufficient for such things.

Here are more positive suggestions, from

Suzanne DiMaggio and Joel Wit

Thae Yong Ho, who defected from North Korea last year

The Center for American Progress

 

Cross-posted at Nuclear Diner.

 

 

 






37 replies
  1. 1
    Yarrow says:

    Related:

    NEW: GOP Sen Bob Corker will hold an SFRC hearing Nov 14 on the president’s authority to use nuclear weapons. Wowsers. pic.twitter.com/0cYr1kFlpS— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) November 9, 2017

  2. 2
    tony in san diego says:

    DO NOT TRY US” sounds like Vice President Pence.

    Sounds more like W: “Bring it on!”

  3. 3

    @Yarrow: The hearing is on the ability of the President to initiate nuclear use. People are worried that Trump will hit North Korea with nukes just because he can. Corker and others are proposing legislation that requires him to consult with Congress before doing such a thing. First hearing on the subject since 1976.

  4. 4
    Ruckus says:

    I can not imagine sitting across the table and listening to this clown talk like this in any real estate transaction without just walking out. Even if I was desperate to sell/unload a property. And I’ve been desperate before, I know what it feels like. I really can’t imagine someone who plays, even at this clowns level, who would not react similarly.

  5. 5
    charluckles says:

    This is what happens when an unstable erratic incurious moron is portrayed by our “liberal” media as some sort of negotiating and business genius. Never ceases to amaze me how many people will completely buy into whatever comes out of that squawking idiot box.

  6. 6
    Mike J says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    People are worried that Trump will hit North Korea with nukes just because he can.

    Or just because Republicans are losing the congress and a war president is more popular.

  7. 7

    @Ruckus: Thanks. I’ve never been involved in that kind of real estate transaction, so I was extrapolating from Trump’s behavior. I apologize for insulting serious people in real estate.

  8. 8
    Yarrow says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Yeah, it seems like a big deal. I’m glad there is indication that at least some Senators recognize that the President is impulsive and dangerous.

  9. 9

    So North Korea is supposed to take what the president says neither literally nor seriously. If true, and if trump is even aware of this “strategy” (big if’s), I’m sure nothing could possibly get lost in translation.

  10. 10
    Ruckus says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    II’m not serious people in real estate. I do have over 20 yrs of owning my own businesses and negotiating some reasonably sized projects. But to be treated like this clown treats people and not walk out, unimaginable.

  11. 11

    @Mike J: I wouldn’t be surprised if trump manages to make war presidenting unpopular.

  12. 12
    Yarrow says:

    Trump seems to believe that this sort of hostility will break his opponent’s will. Perhaps shouting insults across the table does that in real estate transactions.

    My take is that this is how Trump behaves when dealing with anyone he deems lesser or less powerful than he is. Like the small business contractors he refuses to pay. That sort of thing. Scream at them, threaten them, withhold payment, etc. He never, ever speaks poorly of Putin or Russia. They own him and he knows it. He’s respectful. Trump thinks North Korea is “lesser” or “weaker” so he’s insulting and threatening them. It’s the behavior of a bully. Punching down.

  13. 13
    The Moar You Know says:

    working toward a freeze in its development of nuclear and missile technology would be a reasonable first goal for the United States

    Were I North Korea, given that there’s nothing more that the US can do to me short of a full-on war, and given the observable nature of the people America has put in charge of itself, this would be literally the last thing I would do. I don’t see any circumstances under which this happens.

  14. 14

    Haven’t we been told again and again, how wonderful McMaster is. I am not seeing it.

    ETA: Besides Flynn how many other senior military personnel have been compromised by Russia? I mean he can’t be the only one, right?

  15. 15
    Another Scott says:

    (Warning – Politico) McMaster: Trump ‘will use whatever language he wants to use’ with North Korea.

    The continuing disaster that is Donnie’s foreign policy continues to disaster.

    :-/

    A news roundup at TheBulletin notes that the DPRK is preparing another missile launch. Presumably they would like to do more nuclear tests as well but are thwarted by the collapse of the mountain at their existing testing site.

    Have you seen anything about preparations for testing at other sites, or (FSM forbid) an above-ground test? (I vaguely recall that some of the DPRK statements were interpreted as threatening an air test a few weeks ago.)

    Thanks.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  16. 16
    Roger Moore says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if trump manages to make war presidenting unpopular.

    It isn’t that hard. There’s often a surge of patriotism when a war starts, and that normally rubs off on the President, but war fatigue can set in very quickly. Being a war president during a war that drags on inconclusively is really bad for your popularity; just ask fuck LBJ and GWB.

  17. 17

    @Roger Moore: I meant not even seeing a bump at all, like after the RNC last summer.

  18. 18
    father pusbucket says:

    But he has also said that North Korea must unilaterally disarm its nuclear weapons before that will happen.

    Sounds reasonable. We’ll talk it over with Trump as soon as he resigns.

  19. 19

    @The Moar You Know: There’s some indication that North Korea would accept what has been called a “freeze-for-freeze” situation. The US would call off its regular B-1 flights over South Korea, which the North can’t easily distinguish from a developing attack, and the North backs off on some of its activities.

    None of this is going to happen easily or soon. The best would be to start military-to-military talks to clarify their actions.

    And it’s likely that North Korea simply won’t negotiate on anything until they’ve got the nuclear capability they want. See Thae Jong Ho’s remarks I linked in the opening post.

  20. 20
    Another Scott says:

    @charluckles: Television, the drug of the Nation – Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation

    So much of the problems we’re having can be traced to the lack of control over the public airwaves (and I think one could argue, the public Internet). “News” outlets chase ad revenue and clicks. “Reality TV” isn’t. “Hype” gets promoted even if it’s toxic.

    Trump wouldn’t be president without “The Apprentice” and the billions in free advertising he got on TV. He got those free billions because it helped the corporate owners of the mass media in the USA to sell more ads. It’s incestuous and it’s wrong.

    Dunno how we fix it though. :-(

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  21. 21
    Another Scott says:

    (sigh)

    I’m stuck in moderation for one of the verboten words, I guess.

    Thanks.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  22. 22

    @Another Scott: North Korean military tests tend to slow down this time of year. There have been reports of activity at their nuclear test site, but my guess is that that mainly has to do with the tunnel collapses they’ve been experiencing. No indications that I’ve seen that they are planning an atmospheric test. But preparations for that would look like preparations for any other missile test.

  23. 23
    Amir Khalid says:

    Here’s what I don’t get. North Korea has kind-of-rational reasons to keep its nukes: they make the big kids take its tantrums seriously, they are a source of national pride, they might actually be of use in war. To demand that North Korea disarm before good-faith negotiations can begin is (it seems to me) to demand that they concede the game before taking the field. I don’t see how that’s going to happen. In fact, I think such a demand only makes sense if you don’t want to bother talking to them, and are secretly hoping (or even preparing) for war.

  24. 24
  25. 25
  26. 26

    @Amir Khalid: @Cheryl Rofer: bingo, though as always there’s the possibility that trump is so egotistical and stupid that he thinks it’s a good strategy.

  27. 27

    […] Cross-posted at Balloon Juice. […]

  28. 28
    Another Scott says:

    @Amir Khalid: It’s the same with his posture toward Iran. He makes maximal demands as preconditions for even talking. He and his team have no respect for the national interests of any other party – just as he has no respect for anyone in his business deals if they don’t agree. As Yarrow said, it’s attempting to punch down.

    It’s a recipe for a dangerous stalemate with increasing tensions.

    But he thinks he benefits from that as well – because it shows how “dangerous” the world is, how he needs to continue as Dear Leader to Protect the USA from the Dangers in the World, etc.

    The idea of a win-win agreement is foreign to him.

    Note that he’s also attempting to reverse Obama’s progress with Cuba. Gotta make them seem scary again… :-/

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  29. 29

    @Major Major Major Major: But what of the scholar-general McMaster, one of the holy trinity that’s going to save us from nuclear armageddon, why is he echoing T?

  30. 30
    MobiusKlein says:

    @Yarrow: How about this Law: Nuclear weapons may not be used without a explicit declaration of war.

    (Ok, add an exception for retaliation for nuke attacks on us.)

  31. 31

    @Major Major Major Major: @Another Scott: Thanks for adding that in. After I thought a little more, it occurred to me that Trump has claimed that his fabulously successful negotiation strategy is to make outrageous demands to start out. I want to say “and then back off,” but that is language that Trump would never use. So I guess the strategy is
    1. Make outrageous, insane demands
    2. ????
    3. SUCCESS!!!

  32. 32
    Mnemosyne says:

    Small correction: Ted Lieu is a Representative from CA, not a Senator.

  33. 33
  34. 34
    MaxUtil says:

    OT, but is Melania wearing a Gundam suit in that video clip? Those sleeves are amaaaaaazing.

  35. 35
    Another Scott says:

    @MaxUtil: You made me look. :-/

    Whoever makes those videos really annoys me with their attempts to be artsy. Oooh. Let’s slow this part down. Oooh. Let’s make this part out of focus. Etc. But even more with the animated White House ‘Lego construction’ logo at the end. Really???

    As usual, Melania looks miserable to these eyes.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  36. 36
    TenguPhule says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    But what of the scholar-general McMaster, one of the holy trinity that’s going to save us from nuclear armageddon, why is he echoing T?

    He’s not allowed to contradict the moron.

    Please note he’s not actually endorsing his actions, this time.

  37. 37
    jl says:

    Trump has zero clue what is real and what is not, and how things work anyplace in the real world where his money and personal power cannot force people to bend to his wishes. So, no reason to hope Trump plays any constructive role.

    I have a very very faint hope that if somehow sane and halfway competent people represent the US in diplomacy and negotiations, they will be able to get some positive results, slap ‘Another Great Trump Success!’ on the front of it, tell him it’s great, and he will sign it. So, very very faint hope that Trump may get some non-horrilble results in some areas of foreign affairs and national security. And AFAIK, Jared has not been tasked as the NK diplomacy czar (let me know if he has).

    On domestic affairs, and foreign affairs where Trump injects a Trumpster to play an active role, everything seems hopeless.

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