The US IS Now Superfluous To The Future Of The Korean Peninsula Part II

On May 1st I wrote:

I also think that aside from the meeting between Kim and the President, the US is now superfluous to the reality on the ground. And that Kim is manipulating the President into a diplomatic and strategic trap where Kim and the DPRK looks like the good guys here and the President, and by extension the US, look unreasonable and become the bad guys. This would also make Xi and the PRC, as well as Putin – another Kim patron – very, very happy.

Part of the problem is I don’t think the President or anyone on his team really seem to understand where President Moon is coming from. Moon is from the center-left/left of center party in the ROK that seeks an opening with the DPRK. His parents were also refugees from the DPRK to the ROK, so reaching a rapprochement that allows for families to be reunited is very important for him.

Moon clearly wants to reach a new normal on the Korean Peninsula. Kim, in the DPRK, wants what he’s always wanted:

  • the removal of the US, specifically of the US military, from the peninsula
  • the reunification of the peninsula
  • under Kim family control
  • preservation of the Kim family regime

What Kim is talking about is not what the President or anyone on his team is talking about when they talk about denuclearization. Before US-DPRK negotiations have ever begun we have a fundamental mismatch of what the key term means. This will make negotiating more difficult if there is no agreement to what the key terms mean and key issues actually are. There is little doubt that President Moon knows exactly what Kim means when he talks about denuclearization. Moreover, President Moon is no doubt very clear about the President not wanting to keep US military personnel in the ROK. The President, per his longstanding belief dating back to 1987, sees this as a waste of money and another example of America’s allies and partners taking advantage of it and playing the US for suckers.

… the South Koreans know exactly where they stand with the President. So it should not be surprising that President Moon is going to pursue the ROK’s interests and get the best deal he can get with Kim if there is a deal to be had regardless of what happens between the DPRK and the US. Moon has essentially recognized that there are two separate, though somewhat related, diplomatic tracks going on. The first he controls and is bilaterally between the ROK and the DPRK. The second involves the US, is sort of multilateral and at the same time sort of bilateral, and may or may not be anything more than a show.

From the perspective of the DPRK’s Kim, he’s already gotten what he wants from the US: agreement to the meeting. This elevates Kim and the DPRK from pariah status to worthy of direct negotiations with the US and the President. While the President and his team don’t seem to realize this, or if they do, acknowledge it publicly, this is a key concession from the US to the DPRK. And it was provided without Kim having to do much of anything.

All of this is even more evident today with the President withdrawing from the scheduled June summit in Singapore. President Moon as well as the members of his government, have now seen that even if they try to work within the Trump Doctrine and treat the President fairly in order avoid the “or else”, they’re still likely to get the “or else”. The South Koreans gave the President a number of largely symbolic* concessions in the renegotiated trade agreement in order to pursue the “treat fairly” track of the Trump Doctrine. Instead they’ve gotten the “or else” response. The President has repeatedly stated that he wants to pull all US forces out of the ROK because the South Koreans are ripping us off in terms of trade, he cancelled the more controversial for the DPRK portion of the air warfare exercise with the ROK to keep Kim locked into the summit he just cancelled, and he’s now cancelled the summit because the North Koreans replied as in a very predictable way to the Vice President’s and the National Security Advisor’s threatening invocation of how the US dealt with Muamar Qadafi after he gave up his limited nuclear weapons capability.

At this point Moon has tried the “treat fairly” track of the Trump Doctrine and gotten little positive result. In fact he’s largely gotten the “or else” response. Especially as it has been reported that Moon was “blindsided” by this morning’s announcement.

South Korea’s government seemed blindsided by Trump’s announcement.

“We are attempting to make sense of what, precisely, President Trump means,” said government spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom.

Shortly before midnight in Seoul, South Korea’s president called an emergency meeting to discuss Trump’s decision, summoning his chief of staff, national security adviser, foreign minister, unification minister and intelligence chief to the presidential Blue House.

As a result he has every incentive to simply continue to bilaterally negotiate with Kim to achieve Moon’s and Moon’s government’s understanding of the ROK’s national interest. By impulsively deciding to grant Kim a summit based and now impulsively pulling out of that summit because of some tough talk, the President seems to think that his maximum pressure campaign got him the opportunity for the summit and can now simply be reimposed and once again achieve positive goals. The problem, of course, is there is no evidence that the President’s maximum pressure approach actually contributed to or set the conditions for Kim to pursue a bilateral US-DPRK summit, which is something Kim, his father, and his grandfather have been trying to achieve for decades.

Here’s a link to the live feed of the President’s forthcoming remarks on his withdrawing from the summit with Kim.

Kim has largely already gotten what he wanted. He got the President to agree to meet with him. He got two photo ops with Secretary of State Pompeo. He got the President to call him an honorable man. And he got the President to call this off, making the US look like the mercurial, erratic, and unreliable obstacle to peace. It is important to remember that there are a whole bunch of foreign reporters in the DPRK right now because they were there to observe and report on the destruction of the DPRK nuclear test facility. If we’re very lucky, Kim won’t decide that he too can play the “or else” game as well and scarf these folks up as hostages to use as bargaining chips.

Updated at 12:20 PM EDT

The President has opened his remarks by threatening the DPRK with a military response. For whatever reason, between the President’s positive remarks about the summit in his pre recorded interview with Fox and Friends this AM, his issuing the withdrawal letter, and this press statement, he’s decided to go straight to belligerent. And despite what he’s saying in terms of greatly enhancing our military, the US does not currently have the operational capacity to fight a war on the Korean peninsula. Or anywhere else for that matter.

Updated at 12:35 PM EDT:

Not only did the President not give Moon a heads up, he also decided to blindside the DPRK too!

Open thread!

* The trade concessions that the ROK made are largely symbolic as they apply to types of goods that the US does not currently sell in the ROK and has no intention of doing so for the foreseeable future.

204 replies
  1. 1
    Emma says:

    Am I the only one exhausted from watching this slow-motion nuclear explosion we call the US government these days?

  2. 2
    Adam L Silverman says:

    I apologize for any issues with the post. WP locked me out as I went to hit publish, and even though it auto saved the post, it at a couple of paragraphs, which I think I’ve now reconstituted/restored.

  3. 3
    Mike J says:

    Interesting that Axios claimed trump “milked” Korea for concessions and wound up giving them nothing in return. Axios was referring to North Korea, but a more accurate reading is that trump did it to South Korea.

  4. 4
    Elizabelle says:

    making the US look like the mercurial, erratic, and unreliable obstacle to piece.

    Typo. “Piece” is what Trump is all about.

  5. 5
    chris says:

    @Emma: Nope. I was on news blackout until noon today and then… Holy crap!

  6. 6
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Emma:

    No, you’re not. And “slow-motion nuclear explosion” is an apt metaphor.

  7. 7
    JPL says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Thank you and Cheryl for keeping us updated about foreign policy.

  8. 8
    rikyrah says:

    I said it before:

    South Korea was faced with a situation where they honestly believed that the President of the United States didn’t give two shyts about the millions of Koreans and the hundreds of thousands of Americans within the reach of the DMZ.
    That THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES COULD CARE LESS IF HIS ACTIONS CAUSED THEM TO DIE.

    They’ve never been faced with that before, and it scared them to death, so they had to reach out to NK.

  9. 9
    Another Scott says:

    Although there are a lot of symbolic problems with what has happened the last few weeks, let’s not forget about the big picture.

    1) Kim is no longer testing nuclear weapons.
    2) Kim is no longer testing ballistic missiles.
    3) The DPRK and ROK are talking for the first time in a long time.
    4) Kim just blew up his nuclear test site (or at least some of the tunnels) rendering it much less useful (at the very least).

    What has the USA and the ROK and Japan given up in return? They’ve talked with him.

    AFAIK, no concrete steps have been taken to loosen the various embargoes and sanctions. Those are still in the discussion stage.

    Yes, Trump is incompetent. Yes, any “deal” between Trump and Kim would have been problematic because Trump is incompetent. Yes, Kim could reverse himself on 1-4 very easily (and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he does).

    And, yes, Trump’s incompetence, and his stupidity with respect to the JCPOA with Iran, has made it much, much more difficult for there to be any sort of lasting “deal” between the DPRK and the USA, ROK and the rest of the world. That is a huge problem.

    But so far, Kim hasn’t really gained that much. Our 60+year policy of isolation and embargoes and refusing to talk with him to “punish his bad behavior” had very little to show for it. And let the problem fester…

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  10. 10
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @JPL:

    @Adam L Silverman: Thank you and Cheryl for keeping us updated about foreign policy.

    Hear, hear! I have learned an enormous amount from Cheryl and Adam. How fortunate we are to have them as front pagers.

  11. 11
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Elizabelle: That’s part I had to rewrite on the fly because it got eaten. Thanks, I’ll fix it.

  12. 12
    Mary G says:

    I am seeing lots of people report on Twitter that Moon and S K we’re completely blindsided by this move. WTF Twitler and Pompeo?

    ETA: didn’t see the part where you said this before I started pecking it out, Adam. This is impeachable, I think.

  13. 13

    I want to make some comment about our not being in the room where it happens, but nothing good was going to happen anyway. Maybe I can make it apply to Schiff et al and the traitorous briefing on what the prosecutor has on Trump. What time is that, anyway? I have to go write for a while.

  14. 14
    lollipopguild says:

    @rikyrah: Trump would be happy to see South Korea destroyed and Japan permanently damaged by a war as long as he could declare “Victory”.

  15. 15
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Those two are making me look bad!//

  16. 16
    Elizabelle says:

    @Adam L Silverman: My sympathies on losing a post you’d composed. Most frustrating.

  17. 17
    germy says:

    Stopping Robert Mueller to protect us all – https://t.co/hZXWydWtiH— Mark Penn (@Mark_Penn) May 21, 2018

    Snake oil salesman weighs in.

  18. 18
    Amir Khalid says:

    With Trump’s utterly wrongheaded approach to foreign policy, the US will soon be superfluous to all international matters.

    And he got the President to call this off, making the US look like the mercurial, erratic, and unreliable obstacle to piece peace.

  19. 19
    Magda in Black says:

    @Emma:
    No

  20. 20
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Elizabelle: WP does this to me a couple of times a month. Basically it shows me the site is down. I ping Alain, Alain checks and says everything is working. I then restart my computer, and everything works. He doesn’t know why this happens. But it is VERY frustrating when it happens just as I’m going to hit publish!

  21. 21
    Jager says:

    When I was doing broadcast consulting, I had a trump-like client. He’d make a deal and come up with an excuse to break it a few days later. Some shithead at a convenience store would tell him they hated a certain artist, he’d send a memo to the stations to take that artist’s music off the air. He was surrounded by ass kissers and incompetent people. One of his stations had a great morning team, somebody mentioned that the team was “dirty”. He fired the number one morning show based on that. Of course they were snatched up by the competition and they kicked his ass for the next ten years. I made one trip to his operation and left after 2 days observing the chaos, it wasn’t worth the money even though I needed it to pay for my expensive divorce. He called after I left and told me he needed my help, I told him, “No you don’t.” Every time I see trump on TV I think of the guy, they even dress alike.

  22. 22
    Jeffro says:

    Adam:

    The President has opened his remarks by threatening the DPRK with a military response. For whatever reason, between the President’s positive remarks about the summit in his pre recorded interview with Fox and Friends this AM, his issuing the withdrawal letter, and this press statement, he’s decided to go straight to belligerent.

    “You backed out of my beautiful peace summit, and for that, I’m going to threaten to kill you!” Nice!

    He’ll have heavy bombers skirting the very edges of NK airspace before the day is out, unfortunately.

  23. 23
    clay says:

    @Jeffro:

    “You backed out of my beautiful peace summit, and for that, I’m going to threaten to kill you!”

    Except it’s “You I backed out of my beautiful peace summit, and for that, I’m going to threaten to kill you!”

  24. 24
    PPCLI says:

    I’m so confused. Trump’s no-nonsense, no-State Department, Fuck the Experts negotiating style was supposed to change all the past years of failure. And now it turns out that telling your negotiating partner “Give me everything I want or you’ll end up dead in a sewage ditch, sodomized by a bayonet the way the last guy who gave up his nuclear weapons did.” doesn’t get people with nuclear weapons to want to have anything to do with you. No doubt it was a winner when getting creditors to take pennies on the dollar at Atlantic City, though.

  25. 25
    Adam L Silverman says:

  26. 26
    Peale says:

    @rikyrah: I don’t think we factored much in the decision of the voters of South Korea to elect Moon. However, subsequent to that, Trump’s treatment of Koreans in general has indicated a country that is rather hostile to the idea of prosperous South Korea and Koreans who aren’t the starving orphans he remembers.

  27. 27
    Mike J says:

    @Another Scott: Kim doesn’t need to test nukes or missiles. They’ve got them and they work, and can probably hit NY.

    South Korea has long been much more open to talks than the US.

    Kim sealed the entrance to a tunnel and can probably have it back open next week.

  28. 28
    Bruce Lawton says:

    Once again Trump has backtracked on a statement. As soon as he learns the facts on any international agreement his world implodes.

  29. 29
    Adam L Silverman says:

  30. 30
    Weaselone says:

    It’s frustrating and a bit disappointing that Trump and Republicans have increasingly frittered away the US’s position as the indespensible nation, but I have sort of come to terms with that. What makes me a bit sleepless is when I think about what happens when the Republicans and news media figure this out, either because the reality is undeniable or because a Democrat has been elected President.

  31. 31
    lollipopguild says:

    @Peale: Trump sees all of our Allies as moochers who are taking advantage of us and they must “pay” as well as Kneel before Zod!

  32. 32
    chopper says:

    For whatever reason, between the President’s positive remarks about the summit in his pre recorded interview with Fox and Friends this AM, his issuing the withdrawal letter, and this press statement, he’s decided to go straight to belligerent.

    “for whatever reason”? he’s pissed, cause this was supposed to be his big presidential break. he was supposed to have a big win in an election year and fuck obama, he couldn’t get a deal, but trump is the big dealmaker and america will love him. now the whole thing sucks and he’s pissed and of course he’s going to be belligerent. bolton’s been pushing hard to make sure trump thinks this is all kim’s fault.

  33. 33
    lollipopguild says:

    @Weaselone: The media and the GOP will blame Obama, Clinton and any Democrat who has the “nerve’ to get elected President.

  34. 34
    randy khan says:

    @Another Scott:

    To a large extent, the things that look positive here are either coincidences or because the South Koreans are scared to death of what Trump might do.

    For instance, there have been plenty of reports that the test site no longer was functional because of underground collapses, so closing it down isn’t so much a concession as an acknowledgment that the site wasn’t useful anymore. That makes your 1 and 4 not much of anything.

    And, of course, Kim can restart missile testing any time he wants.

    More signifcantly – and exactly the opposite of what happened in the Obama Administration with Iran – whatever North Korea has stopped doing, there are no constraints preventing it from starting up again. Kim gave up nothing except a little time, and given North Korea’s progress on nuclear weapons, there’s a pretty good argument that he didn’t even give that up.

    On the other hand, Kim got what may have been a much more significant objective on his side, which is South Korea talking to him about the possibility of removing U.S. troops, which will continue even without the summit; indeed, not having the summit may make it easier for South Korea and North Korea to reach their own deal.

  35. 35
    Raoul says:

    Mercurial, erratic, and unreliable — that is most definitely us as long at the Orange Idiot is ‘in charge.’

  36. 36
    Weaselone says:

    @lollipopguild:
    That’s not what I meant. I’m not talking about who they’ll blame, but the actions they’ll take because we are no longer “respected”.

  37. 37
    Betty Cracker says:

    “It’s like riding a psychotic horse toward a burning barn.”

    — Armand Goldman (Robin Williams), The Birdcage

  38. 38
    Yarrow says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I’ve never seen anything quite like this. Especially the “please don’t hesitate to call me if you change your mind”, which isn’t exactly the norm in Head of State communications on grave issues of peace and security..

    Remember his letter to Comey when he fired him. “I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.” That should have been a warning that all his letter would sound like that.

  39. 39
    Amir Khalid says:

    PM Dr Mahathir has claimed that his predecessor Najib Razak cooked the books to conceal nearly half the national debt. Also, 1Malaysia Development Bhd is pretty much broke.

  40. 40
    chopper says:

    @Mike J:

    that’s assuming the test site is worth using again.

  41. 41
    PPCLI says:

    @Another Scott:

    But so far, Kim hasn’t really gained that much.

    I’m sure Adam/Cheryl will correct me if I’m wrong about this, but it seems he’s gained a lot, especially given the reversability of 1-4, as you note.
    a) Kim’s wanted to be treated as an equal negotiating partner with the US for years, and the US wouldn’t give it to him unless he made concessions. He now has that for free. (Unless you count releasing prisoners he no doubt seized in part so as to have a cosmetic gesture to make.) And though Trump has issued a blustering letter, and Pence talked tough and insulted them (twice) during the Olympics, it was clear to the world that Trump was desperate for a deal, and yesterday’s NK statement release (from a subordinate, ,mind you) was a “Fuck You”.

    b) To exercise pressure over NK, the US needs China to help out with sanctions. That will only happen if they regard Trump as a reliable cooperator. He’s made it clear that he isn’t that. And on other fronts he’s made China’s cooperation far less likely because they are tired of dealing with a country that changes its policy and demands hourly. Also China has seen Trump lose face and look like a dork in front of the world.

    c) SK is far more inclined to make more concessions to NK than they would otherwise, because they realize that the US can’t be counted on so long as Trump and his people are in charge, and the South Koreans are getting scared.

    Those are just a few of the things that come to mind.

  42. 42
    eric says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Call me, maybe?

  43. 43
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Never!

  44. 44
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Betty Cracker: You’ve met several of my ex girlfriends?

  45. 45
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Amir Khalid: Ooopsie!

  46. 46
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Elizabelle:

    My sympathies on losing a post you’d composed.

    I sent thoughts ‘n’ prayers.

  47. 47
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @eric: Ear worm warning please!!!!

  48. 48
    Tilda Swintons Bald Cap says:

    Time for the Deep State, if it exists, to burn this malAdministration to the ground. All the SIGINT, tapes, transcripts, etc., everything they have. David Fahrenthold has a secure DropBox after all. Mueller ain’t gonna get it done in time, and either are the Dems even if they take back the House. Time is too short. There will be so many dead long before November.

  49. 49
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Weaselone: I think some Republicans already have figured it out – but what, if anything, they actually plan to do about it is what *I* can’t figure out. As Rikyrah points out, the curve for mediocre white men is real – and the Republicans are, pretty much to a man, mediocre white men. They can’t – or won’t – get rid of Trump, they can’t – or won’t – lift a finger to stop the looting of this country at the hands of a crime family, since they are all either criminals themselves, or they’re cool with the notion that crony criminality is what politics is all about, as long as it’s the right cronies. I have no freaking idea where we go as a country from here – since I’m assured by my mediocre white male lefty peers that whatever foulness results from Republican rule, “Establishment Democrats” are still the real enemy!

  50. 50
    lollipopguild says:

    @Weaselone: Hopefully they will not be in a position to really “do” anything other than loudly complain and point the finger of blame at everyone else. They will hopefully be out of power, completely and totally.

  51. 51
    Amir Khalid says:

    Najib spent another two hours today at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission being questioned. There’s speculation that he will be arrested any day now. We shall see.

  52. 52
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: It was so young…//

  53. 53
    Doug R says:

    This should really be hammered out between neighbors North and South Korea with major input from neighbors China and Japan. Once the transition is figured out, then they’ll the the US troops their walking papers.

  54. 54
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Najib spent another two hours today at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission being questioned.

    Everyone needs a hobby!//

  55. 55
    opiejeanne says:

    @Emma: Me too. I rolled out of bed and my husband asked if I’d seen the news this morning. I hadn’t even gotten my brain working properly yet.
    These idiots. They’re going to get a lot of people killed. I hope those reporters make it to safety.

  56. 56
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Another Scott:
    We tried in the 90s, but George the Second fucked that up. And the dialogue between SK and NK has only occurred because Trump’s erracticness scared them both to death enough to try to work something, anything, out.

  57. 57
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Tilda Swintons Bald Cap:
    America really should not look to the Cigarette-Smoking Man for salvation.

  58. 58
    Steeplejack says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Would it just be crazy talk to suggest composing/​editing/​saving your post in Word (or whatever word processor you typically use), then moving it in toto to FYWP at the last minute for publishing?

  59. 59
    trollhattan says:

    @Another Scott:

    1) Kim is no longer testing nuclear weapons.
    2) Kim is no longer testing ballistic missiles.
    3) The DPRK and ROK are talking for the first time in a long time.
    4) Kim just blew up his nuclear test site (or at least some of the tunnels) rendering it much less useful (at the very least).

    #3 is a legit positive outcome and something tangible. The others I’m not convinced about in the least–1 & 2 seem at best on hiatus after successful tests and per Cheryl, 4 is mostly about destroying evidence to which inspectors would have wanted access, plus the likelihood the site was no longer viable due to the destruction wrought by the last, Really Big Bomb.

    To the larger point Trump, having been found a fraud has been tossed out of the sandbox.

  60. 60
    rikyrah says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    PM Dr Mahathir has claimed that his predecessor Najib Razak cooked the books to conceal nearly half the national debt. Also, 1Malaysia Development Bhd is pretty much broke.

    Broke broke…

    Or Robbed blind broke?

  61. 61
    Raoul says:

    Many, many years ago I was on a bar league volley ball team. We were rag-tag. We were disorganized. We didn’t practice. And we drank more than our opponents.
    We won many of the games. Because our opponents had no idea what was happening, and ready-set-spike didn’t really work against us.
    But: we didn’t control the bracket, the real power behind the league did, and somehow we lost the season. More importantly, wether we won or lost the league, Austin TX was in absolutely zero risk of nuclear war.
    Trump’s foreign ‘policy’ reminds me way too much of that volleyball team. But the other players here, and I mean the EU, The Commonwealth, the China-orbit nations, etc each or all could decide to change the brackets and tell us to more or less fuck off. Increasingly, I think they will — at least gently. I mean, look at how Trump screwed TPP. Backing out didn’t kill it, it just cut us loose.
    If Trump can’t scam people, there is no art or deal he can swing.

  62. 62
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    In Najib’s case, while he still has free time.

  63. 63
    Mike J says:

    @chopper:

    that’s assuming the test site is worth using again.

    The mountain next door is fine and they had already built tunnels for testing. Collapses are to be expected when you test nukes underground, and they had already planned for it.

  64. 64
    trollhattan says:

    @Tilda Swintons Bald Cap:
    Shittiest. Deep. State. Ever.

    I want a refund, how about it DNC and Soros?

  65. 65
    Adam L Silverman says:

    The White House Gift Shop has just put a sale price on the summit gift coin. Get them while they last!
    https://splinternews.com/white-house-gift-shop-is-still-selling-coins-for-the-no-1826295622

  66. 66
    Amir Khalid says:

    @rikyrah:
    Robbed-blind broke, of course.

  67. 67
    Kay says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor (formerly Iowa Old Lady):

    media are spinning the meeting of the Trump Legal Defense Team as normal:

    @mkraju
    26m26 minutes ago
    More
    GOP sens not defending Trump but won’t criticize him over allegations. Cornyn told us it’s key to learn “what the motivation of the FBI” was in pursuing its investigation. Lindsey Graham: “If there was a confidential informant, I’d like to know why — maybe there’s a good reason”

    Such nonsense. The whole meeting is a defense of Trump. The entire government is acting in the service of shielding Donald Trump from accountability for his actions.

    He demanded special treatment and they not only gave it to him, they immediately bent over backwards to give it to him, on terms dictated by him, terms that benefit no one except Donald Trump and his sleazy associates.

    There’s no public interest in providing Donald Trump special access to the information that may be used to prosecute him. None. The entire event is a defense of Trump and the FBI and DOJ are endorsing it. They’ve joined the defense team.

  68. 68
    Mandalay says:

    @Another Scott:

    But so far, Kim hasn’t really gained that much.

    I completely disagree. For a start, he got North Korea treated as an equal with the United States in negotiations. But more importantly, he got the Panmunjeom Declaration. I suppose you could argue that he wouldn’t have got that if Trump hadn’t been acting like a psycho, scaring the snot out of South Korea, but this ain’t nothing and it still stands:

    The two leaders solemnly declared before the 80 million Korean people and the whole world that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula and thus a new era of peace has begun.

    The two leaders, sharing the firm commitment to bring a swift end to the Cold War relic of longstanding division and confrontation, to boldly approach a new era of national reconciliation, peace and prosperity, and to improve and cultivate inter-Korean relations in a more active manner…

    The media just personalizes what’s going on as a relationship between the leaders of the USA and North Korea, as though China and South Korea are just bit players, but in the scheme of things they are far more significant than the United States.

  69. 69
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Steeplejack: It wouldn’t be if in doing so, I didn’t have to reformat everything 1/2 a dozen times to get it to work right in WP. I’ve tried that in the hopes that if I did it and had standardized formatting, it would just copy across. It doesn’t. Instead I get a freakish melange of wacky paragraph formatting, indents, extra quote boxes where I don’t want them. No quote boxes where I do want them. Removal of hyperlinks. Things like that.

    Usually when whatever is causing this problem happens, I’m not drafting a post and/or about to hit publish. I just drew a bad hand with WP this AM.

  70. 70
    Steeplejack says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    [. . .] cooked the books to conceal nearly half the national debt.

    Shnikeys, that’s going to leave a mark.

  71. 71
    donnah says:

    “To the larger point Trump, having been found a fraud has been tossed out of the sandbox.“

    Which means Trump pooped in the sandbox, scooped sand over it, blamed the cat, and THEN got tossed out of the sandbox.

  72. 72
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    25% is not a big enough markdown. The White House Gift Shop should be giving them away free with some other, less undesirable item.

  73. 73
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Weaselone:
    That’s an interesting question. Hopefully they are destroyed as a political force before that happens. Are you worried that some hypothetical GOP dominated federal government (democratically or through dictatorship) would react violently towards the rest of the world for a perceived lack of respect? Respect that we enjoyed before Trump?

  74. 74
    sherparick says:

    @Mike J: AXIOS is apparently also applying the “Trump Doctrine” to this story (flatter Trump or else be shut out is the media equivalent). Apparently, AXIOS was referring to the release of 3 Korean American hostages, the suspension of missile testing, and the demolition of the former testing location. As was noted in the non-mainstream media, these were not significant concessions or unlike ones made before.

  75. 75
    Humdog says:

    @Amir Khalid: If one person can”cook” the nation’s books, sounds like the problem is bigger than just him. Other heads to roll?

  76. 76
    Mandalay says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    The White House Gift Shop has just put a sale price on the summit gift coin

    Heh!….the WhiteHouseGiftShop web site is down.

    The servers must be overheating due to sky high demand. Or, as one unkind commenter suggested, “the website is so broken that you’d think Baron coded it“.

  77. 77
    p.a. says:

    Are we great again yet?
    To paraphrase: “Let me face the greatness.”
    “No it’s too great.”

  78. 78
    Jonny Scrum-half says:

    @Tilda Swintons Bald Cap: Damn, I wish I disagreed with you.

  79. 79
    Feebog says:

    Trumpov has made it abundantly clear he does’nt understand how any of this works. This is a gigantic clusterfuck and it is entirely of his own making. It would be laughable if it was’nt so scary.

  80. 80
    Cacti says:

    I predicted from the start that Trump would muck this summit plan up in a way that left Kim Jong Un looking the reasonable one to the rest of the world.

    Somewhere in Beijing, Xi has a great big smile on his face.

  81. 81
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Humdog:
    You are right, of course. Even though Najib was Finance Minister as well as PM, he had to have sous-chefs when he was cooking the books. Like 1MDB, this is too big to have been one man acting alone. Some senior Finance Ministry people may go down with him. But no names have been publicly named yet.

  82. 82

  83. 83
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Pretty much. If the goat rodeo was organized, run, and overseen by the goat rodeo clowns.

  84. 84
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Well, now I kinda want one

  85. 85
    JPL says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Mock me if you want, but I had to look up goat rodeo. The meaning was exactly as I thought.

  86. 86
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Breaking: Trump has just issued a posthumous pardon to boxer Jack Johnson.

    Had honestly completely forgotten about that. IIRC, didn’t Stallone or someone suggest it?

  87. 87
    Mary G says:

    If J Street is right, Paul Ryan has decided to polish his tarnished reputation: HOUSE SENDS CLEAR MESSAGE: TRUMP NOT AUTHORIZED TO USE MILITARY FORCE AGAINST IRAN. Unanimous vote? Not seeing it anywhere else, and hard to believe, but I got all excited for a minute.

  88. 88
    Cacti says:

    In a single month, Trump has made the regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang look like the adults in the room.

    And U.S. soft power, built over last 8-decades takes another body blow.

  89. 89
    sherparick1 says:

    @Mandalay: The mass media has transitioned to really an infotainment industry a long time ago. TMZ and People are business models, not outliers, and one of the problems is that Trump is quite right when he states he is “great for ratings.” Further, the suits who run these companies are very much a part of a business world that buys into right wing tropes and conservative memes and are very ignorant, not just of the rest of the world, but of most things in the U.S. I get feed ads into my twitter stream from Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, and other business lobbying groups and they are all about the Great Trump administration and the great tax cut.

  90. 90
    JPL says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Seriously, is that a joke?

  91. 91
    LongHairedWeirdo says:

    But… but… but… does this mean Trump *won’t* get his Nobel Peace Prize? I’m shocked! No, wait, hold on (licks tips of a 9v battery) I’M SHOCKED!

    I do kinda get the calls for a Nobel. The Republicans have always been about appearances, and, IMHO, the Nobel committee blundered in giving the prize for Peace to Obama, however glad I was to see him so honored. The symbolism, a black man rising to chief executive of a nation that is so thoroughly rooted in racism, despite nominal equality…

    And I can’t blame the GOP for being envious. Obama was brilliant, hyper-competent, driven, and accomplished a huge amount. Every single GOP President since/through Nixon has been a criminal, and only 40% were competent. (At least, I see relatively broad agreement on Nixon and Bush Sr. Note that “competent” isn’t all that great of a word. A competent arsehole dumps crap regularly.)

    But however much I might agree that Obama’s Nobel was premature, I won’t agree that one should be such a lickspittle as to suggest that Trump deserved one, especially since he would still need to deal seven aces from a fair, 52 card deck, to accomplish his nominal goal (peace on the Korean peninsula) only in service to his actual goal (fellation by the press, and every member of his base, “and I mean LITERALLY this time!”).

  92. 92
    TenguPhule says:

    We are so fucked.

  93. 93
    celticdragonchick says:

    This is going to go hot and we are going to lose a major city before all is said and done.

    My God.

  94. 94
    TenguPhule says:

    At this point Moon has tried the “treat fairly” track of the Trump Doctrine and gotten little positive result. In fact he’s largely gotten the “or else” response.

    Trump is the Prisoner’s Dilemma’s worst consistency.

  95. 95
    Amir Khalid says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:
    Yes, it was Stallone.

  96. 96
    TenguPhule says:

    “We are attempting to make sense of what, precisely, President Trump means,” said government spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom.

    Good luck, even the native speakers haven’t been able to figure it out.

  97. 97
    TenguPhule says:

    @LongHairedWeirdo:

    And I can’t blame the GOP for being envious.

    YES. WE. CAN.

    Fuck the lazy grifting bastards. With a spiked bat.

  98. 98
    Jeffro says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I’d gladly get a couple as stocking-stuffer gag gifts for the wingnuts in my life, but by Christmas this will be old, olllllld news.

    Still, if the price goes down to $5, I’ll chance it…

  99. 99
    Steeplejack says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Oops, sorry, I wasn’t suggesting that you use Word for the formatting.

    When I write a long comment in Word I put in the eventual FYWP formatting manually, e.g., <em>this is italics</em>, <blockquote>this is a quote</blockquote>, etc. The hardest one is a hyperlink, and I have a little autocorrect macro that gives me

    <a href="URL">TEXT</a>

    which I fill in as appropriate. Basically I’m using Word as a text editor, and the “formatting” doesn’t get lost when the text is moved to FYWP.

    But maybe overkill or not worth the effort if FYWP doesn’t eat a post very often.

  100. 100
    TenguPhule says:

    he’s decided to go straight to belligerent. And despite what he’s saying in terms of greatly enhancing our military, the US does not currently have the operational capacity to fight a war on the Korean peninsula.

    It wouldn’t be the first time the military has been ordered to do something incredibly stupid.

  101. 101
    Mary G says:

    @Amir Khalid: I saw at Pro Publica that Eliott Broidy was involved in trying to quash the investigation.

    The Wall Street Journal reported in March that Broidy was negotiating to earn tens of millions of dollars from a Malaysian businessman if the Justice Department dropped its investigation into graft allegations involving a Malaysian state investment fund. Broidy’s attorney acknowledged his involvement with the negotiations, but denied that Broidy had ever brought up the investigation with Trump or Justice Department officials. The White House did not respond to questions about whether Trump discussed the Justice Department investigation with Broidy.

    That guy gets around.

  102. 102
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @LongHairedWeirdo:

    Every single GOP President since/through Nixon has been a criminal,

    I must disagree wrt Ford. Can never forgive his pardoning Nixon, but I don’t think the pardon itself was a criminal act.

  103. 103
    Mike J says:

    White House gift shop infected with TrumpCaps:

    The Coin Will be Made Whether or Not the Summit Occurs as Scheduled

    Because the Theme is Coming Closer to Peace and Celebrates the Act of Communication Among Countries

    If Summit Does Not Occur You can Request a Refund but Most Supporters Have Said They Want This Heirloom of
    Political History Regardless of Outcome.

  104. 104
    TenguPhule says:

    @Another Scott:

    1) Kim is no longer testing nuclear weapons.
    2) Kim is no longer testing ballistic missiles.
    3) The DPRK and ROK are talking for the first time in a long time.
    4) Kim just blew up his nuclear test site (or at least some of the tunnels) rendering it much less useful (at the very least).

    1. Kim has working nukes,
    2. Kim has finally got working missiles with nukes attached.
    3. South Korea just had its whole security setup pulled out from under it by Trump.
    4. The site was already unnecessary. It cost Kim nothing and made them look MORE RELIABLE THEN THE USA.

  105. 105
    TenguPhule says:

    @Mike J:

    Because the Theme is Coming Closer to Peace and Celebrates the Act of Communication Among Countries

    Is this supposed to be some kind of sick joke?

  106. 106
    Mandalay says:

    Cynthia Nixon attended the morning session of the state Democratic convention on Long Island on Wednesday, criticizing Gov. Andrew Cuomo but leaving without the party’s nomination.

    Good riddance asshole. Any Democrat running for office who wants to be shy about releasing their tax returns can fuck off and die.

  107. 107
    B.B.A. says:

    @Mandalay: She released her tax returns last week, in an obvious pathetic attempt to distract us from her refusal to release her tax returns.

  108. 108
    LAO says:

    If this is true, I’m going to have a coronary.

    Wow — @LauraAJarrett saw Emmett Flood leaving the Department of Justice alongside Nunes, Gowdy, Ryan and Kelly. Flood replaced Ty Cobb on Trump’s legal team earlier this year.— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) May 24, 2018

  109. 109
    JPL says:

    @LAO: Why you jealous?

    I assumed all defense attys can get special favors.

  110. 110
    Mike J says:

    ‘Bad trip’: air force members guarding nuclear missiles took LSD, records show
    Fourteen airmen were disciplined, of whom six were convicted in courts martial of LSD use or distribution or both

  111. 111
    rikyrah says:

    Would like an explanation of domestic NY Politics. How can Cuomo be the Democratic Nominee for Governor, when not one voter has cast a ballot. Please explain it to me, since I don’t live in NY State.

  112. 112
    drylake says:

    Korea has been trapped between two more powerful and/or aggressive powers (China and Japan) for at least 500 years now (in this respect like Poland, except Korea is much more powerful these days), before 1895 basically submitting to China. After 1945, the US was a godsend, promising protection from both of these unpleasant neighbors. Now Trump has proved the US utterly unreliable, and the SK’s are back to square one, and Abe, with his hyper-nationalism, is, to say the least, not a viable alternative; that leaves Beijing, undesirable as that option is, as the only place to move toward.

    Also, SK has, in its recent democratic incarnation, been like a purple state, with the conservatives and center-left pretty much in balance; now Moon has probably made SK more like CA, once a purple state, but now to be firmly in the hands of the center-left, at least in the short to medium run.

    The MSM, of course, will be the last to cotton to any of this.

  113. 113
    Mandalay says:

    @B.B.A.: That was way too late, and her position was completely untenable.

    If you aren’t in a position to release your taxes that’s fine, but in that case don’t run for office as a Democrat.

  114. 114
    MaryLou says:

    @Yarrow: He’s obviously a close student of Dear Abby’s book of thank-you notes. RSVP’s,
    and condolence letters.

  115. 115
    rikyrah says:

    @LAO:

    I think LAO is sorta shocked that they cut out the middle man. Not even waiting for Nunes to snitch what he read to them.

  116. 116
    Served says:

    Wow — @LauraAJarrett saw Emmett Flood leaving the Department of Justice alongside Nunes, Gowdy, Ryan and Kelly. Flood replaced Ty Cobb on Trump’s legal team earlier this year.— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) May 24, 2018

    Trump’s personal lawyer attended the meeting today. The rule of law means nothing in this country anymore.

  117. 117
    JPL says:

    I’m shocked that Nunes hasn’t leaked yet. Maybe he has to confer with Russia first.

  118. 118
    LAO says:

    @JPL: I’m seriously flipping out — WTF is Trump’s personal lawyer doing attending a classified briefing? I mean I know why he’s there but how the fuck did the DOJ permit it?

  119. 119
    Elizabelle says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Thank you. I agree, Gerald Ford was a good guy.

  120. 120
    LAO says:

    @rikyrah: well put.

  121. 121
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    That is one of those movies that we ALWAYS watch to the end no matter where we come in. Williams and Lane are so perfect together, and it’s great to watch Williams have to be the sane one.

  122. 122
  123. 123
    Ohio Dad says:

    @Elizabelle:
    Throughout his life, one of Trump’s main goals has been removing obstacles to piece (sic).

  124. 124
    TenguPhule says:

    @LAO:

    I mean I know why he’s there but how the fuck did the DOJ permit it?

    Trump is the ultimate authority on who gets to see classified information.

    /throws up a little in my mouth.

  125. 125
    TenguPhule says:

    @Ohio Dad:

    Throughout his life, one of Trump’s main goals has been removing obstacles to him getting a piece (sic).

    Corrected.

  126. 126
    Immanentize says:

    I’m sure someone probably said this up thread –but this is probably good news for Iran. And Moktada Al Sadr.

  127. 127
    JPL says:

    @LAO: I didn’t mean to be flippant, but since the report lands in Rosenstein’s hands, I assumed that we’ll only hear what Trump wants us to hear.

  128. 128
    Woodrowfan says:

    @Jager: and I’d bet good money he read Ayn Rand and considered himself one of the future ruling class by virtue of his “brilliance.”

  129. 129
    JPL says:

    MSNBC is reporting on it now. WTF

  130. 130
    Brachiator says:

    Kim has largely already gotten what he wanted. He got the President to agree to meet with him. He got two photo ops with Secretary of State Pompeo. He got the President to call him an honorable man. And he got the President to call this off, making the US look like the mercurial, erratic, and unreliable obstacle to peace.

    That’s OK. Trump will do much better when he negotiates with Iran.

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    Sometimes, I crack myself up.

  131. 131
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Mary G:
    So Najib paid Broidy millions and got zilch? Figures.

  132. 132
    Immanentize says:

    @LAO: My guess is that given his attorney and John Kelly were at the briefing, not much was revealed. But it was a TOP SECRET BRIEFING! Know what I mean?

  133. 133
    LAO says:

    gentle reminder that the president is the worst person in the world and the people who abet him are morally bankrupt opportunists who should wear this shame for the rest of their lives. vote.— Michael Levin (@Michael_Levin) May 24, 2018

    @Immanentize: I hope that you are right.

    @JPL: Be as flippant as you want — this is Balloon Juice!

  134. 134
    Woodrowfan says:

    @Another Scott: As Trollhatten noted up-thread, I think you’re giving him too much credit. #s 1 and 2 could as easily be normal pauses in activity, or even no longer necessary. And #4 could easily be OBE because the last test made the site unusable. And #3 is not much of an accomplishment, being such a scary jerkwad that others feel a need to talk together to deal with you. Giving trump credit for #3 is a bit like crediting Hitler for his great accomplishment because he got the US and GB to make nice with Stalin…

  135. 135
    JPL says:

    @Immanentize: Sure you keep believing that.

  136. 136
    tobie says:

    @Immanentize: You may well be right. But it’s just one more step toward the end of the rule of law in this country. Trump is behaving like a King. Neither the DOJ nor the FBI is putting up any overt resistance based on legal principle.

  137. 137
    LAO says:

    @Immanentize: @JPL: And, he’s at the second meeting as well.

    WH lawyer Emmet Flood has also arrived, per @tedbarrettcnn https://t.co/Zsnq000Biw— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) May 24, 2018

    After all the shit I’ve watched go down during the past 2 years, I’m surprised by how much this enrages me.

  138. 138
    trollhattan says:

    @Mike J:
    Uh, what?!? “The Electric Koolade AcidFusion Test” sounds like the worst sequel ever.

  139. 139
    JGabriel says:

    Adam L Silverman:

    Kim has largely already gotten what he wanted. He got the President to agree to meet with him. … He got the President to call him an honorable man. And he got the President to call this off, making the US look like the mercurial, erratic, and unreliable obstacle to peace …

    In other words, making the US look like Trump.

  140. 140
    Mary G says:

    Looks like it’s true:

    Very significant: The military bill just passed by the House includes a definitive statement that the president does not have Congress' authorization for the use of military force against Iranhttps://t.co/W7w6WrS3Ft— Dylan Williams (@dylanotes) May 24, 2018

    This should be getting more attention. Did someone stick it in and everyone else didn’t read it?

    ETA: It’s horrifying. Way over the line, in a different galaxy from the line. Schiff and Warner need to come out and raise holy hell. Even if Twitler was going to tell Flood everything he heard, to have him in a meeting about top secret intelligence is…I can’t think of a bad enough word. Straight up dictator behavior.

  141. 141
    JPL says:

    @LAO: Since it was reported he was at the first, I wonder if he went to the second in order to prove that the first meeting was not about Trump. Of course, I don’t believe that. My faith in the republican congressional oversight committees and the executive branch is gone.

  142. 142
    JPL says:

    @Mary G: What are they going to do, slap his hand.

  143. 143
    Mary G says:

    @Mary G: This is the tweet I meant to quote:

    The unanimous passage of this bipartisan amendment is a strong counter to Trump's withdrawal from the Iran deal and his increasingly hostile rhetoric. Today, Congress acted to reclaim its authority over the use of military force. https://t.co/OTVnmrCrNH— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) May 24, 2018

  144. 144
    ET says:

    I wonder how that tRump Nobel campaign is working out Rep. Luke Messer?

  145. 145
    Skepticat says:

    “We are attempting to make sense of what, precisely, President Trump means,” said government spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom.

    I just hope they’ll clue us in if they figure it out, on this subject or absolutely anything else.

  146. 146
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @JPL:
    They could always deny Trump funding for his splendid little war, right? Or would he still be able to use discretionary spending?

    Even still, this is incredible that a GOP dominated Congress actually did the smart (& right) thing for once. I guess even they must realize how much of a clusterfuck a war in Iran would be.

  147. 147
    The Moar You Know says:

    The unanimous passage of this bipartisan amendment

    @Mary G: I cannot think of ANYTHING that has passed the House unanimously in the last 30 years. Hate to say it, but good for them. All of them. This was desperately needed.

  148. 148
  149. 149
    TenguPhule says:

    @JPL:

    My faith in the republican congressional oversight committees and the executive branch is gone.

    You had some to begin with?

  150. 150
    TenguPhule says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    They could always deny Trump funding for his splendid little war, right? Or would he still be able to use discretionary spending?

    Trump can start and run a war for 60 days without Congressional authorization.

    The money would come from the military operations budget, robbing peter to pay paul.

    After that, technically Congress is either supposed to authorize and fund or deny and combat operations are supposed to cease.

    Congress has never before denied funding for ongoing combat operations. For obvious reasons.

  151. 151
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    Congress has never before denied funding for ongoing combat operations. For obvious reasons.

    Let’s say they do. What happens next?

    Better yet, let them pass a law that repeals the War Powers Act and returns the power to declare war to Congress (where it belongs). How would Trump react?

  152. 152
    Gravenstone says:

    @Kay:

    If there was a confidential informant, I’d like to know why — maybe there’s a good reason

    It’s called investigating a crime in progress, you fucking imbecile!

  153. 153
    TenguPhule says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    Let’s say they do. What happens next?

    That depends.

    The rational thing would be to pack it up and go back to base.

    Mind you, the other side who was being shot and bombed may have a few things to say about that.

    The crazy balls thing would be Trump giving them the finger and ordering the generals to keep fighting.

    At that point, its a guessing game.

  154. 154
    Jager says:

    @Woodrowfan: He made a ton of money when the first round of deregulation happened, radio station values went through the roof. He stayed out of it for awhile, then bought another stick and put a wingnut station on the air. Guy is built just like trump only he has Rand Paul’s hair.

  155. 155
    Mary G says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: Yep, with another statement specifically saying he cannot attack NK.

  156. 156
    rikyrah says:

    @LAO:

    After all the shit I’ve watched go down during the past 2 years, I’m surprised by how much this enrages me.

    I’m glad it does.

  157. 157
    LAO says:

    @rikyrah: Add this to the pile of outrage —

    RUDY tells @dsamuelsohn that today’s briefing will inform Trump’s legal defense:“We want to see how the briefing went to today and how much we learned from it. If we learned a good deal from it, it will shorten that whole process considerably.”Exactly what Dems feared.— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) May 24, 2018

  158. 158
    bluefish says:

    These folks are such rank amateurs. Pompeo this morning on the Hill looked like he’d had a bad night and quite possibly an unpleasant morning. Wonder if the Boy King went off on his gluts before he was shoved out there to explain all this.

    Thank you for your analysis, AS — I rely on your expertise and great good sense on the daily now. Trump will always have his special commemorative coin, which is almost as hideous as the content of his non-existent character. They’ll do all they can to spin spin spin this but it’s a total embarrassment and a clear sign of how these folks simply do NOT know how to conduct business — of any kind, at any level, ever.

  159. 159
    JPL says:

    @LAO: Although I’m outraged, I won’t let myself despair, because my energy needs to be directed to the fall .

  160. 160
    bluefish says:

    @drylake: Thanks for that. Appreciate it.

  161. 161
    Mary G says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Notepad is my go-to for that. It minds its own business. Word is a nightmare.

  162. 162
    patrick II says:

    We may lose the Korean peninsula because it is not obviously profitable. Trade imbalance, costs of U.S. troops, no Trump tower in Seoul. Profit, the complete measure of all value.

  163. 163
    jl says:

    Will the Trumpsters issue a distraught commemorative coin to mark the break-up to match the pre-summit challenge coin?
    Would make a nice pair, tends to increase value of a collectible to have a set. Could mean some bucks for the GOP.

    Once in a while I get a GOP email come-on. Why, I have no clue, but I’ll check them now before I put them in the trash.

  164. 164

    So, the US diplomatic strategy will continue to be ‘Sit on our thumb and spin, while the world moves on without us.’

    The President has opened his remarks by threatening the DPRK with a military response.

    Oh, no! Not another threat of military response! This is, what, the sixth? And it turned out every single other time he was not only a blustering coward who just says shit, the things he said he’d already done were lies?

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    And the dialogue between SK and NK has only occurred because Trump’s erracticness scared them both to death enough to try to work something, anything, out.

    I’m pretty sure Kim figured out early that Trump is all hat and no cattle. Moon appears to have his own independent desires for this. The US never was the only actor in the world. Certainly both are mindful that the US is likely to do nothing no matter what happens.

    @Mary G:
    Congress doesn’t like Trump. Congress doesn’t support Trump. What they support is denying Democrats even an inch of power. They fanatically do not want Trump removed, but that’s very different from having any loyalty to him personally. For the most part, they happen to agree with his priorities of corruption and white supremacy, but when they don’t, they have no problem ignoring him or actively giving him the middle finger.

  165. 165
    Mary G says:

    Part of me wants to do what we did with Reagan – find a tiny country – in his case Grenada – and send in the troops. All the wingnut I knew were like “America, Fuck yeah! That’s how a Real President does it.” Three days, declare victory and go home. Of course, it’s morally wrong. Maybe Spielberg could do a nice take little sad to keep the toddler from a tantrum.

  166. 166
    JPL says:

    @LAO: This is interesting.. Not sure if it contains smut on Trump or not though.

    NEW: @FBI just released nearly 300 pages of files on Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire alleged to have ties to both Donald Trump and Bill Clinton.

    https://twitter.com/christinawilkie/status/999720073140035586

  167. 167
    jl says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:
    ” Oh, no! Not another threat of military response! ”

    So, possibility of a two-front mystery-meat war with NK and Iran on again?
    Plus some nonsense in Venezuela, just for the kicks?

    Not sure whether that is good or bad. They can’t do anything, so if they are talking about doing several hard but very stupid and evil things, maybe that increases the chances they do nothing. Whatever results in the Trump admin actually doing not one damn thing on these fronts is best. Trouble is how to read the signs.

  168. 168
    JGabriel says:

    @randy khan:

    On the other hand, Kim got what may have been a much more significant objective on his side, which is South Korea talking to him about the possibility of removing U.S. troops, which will continue even without the summit; indeed, not having the summit may make it easier for South Korea and North Korea to reach their own deal.

    Which, being as mercurial as Trump, Kim will break as soon as he can – i.e., as soon as he thinks he can invade SK thoroughly and quickly enough to make Korean ‘unification’ a fact on the ground before anyone (read: US) can militarily retaliate.

  169. 169
    Another Scott says:

    @Mandalay: Eh? She released her 2017 return on May 4 according to the Google Machine. I haven’t kept up with the “race” such as it is. Why wasn’t that good enough?

    [ I’m late to the party again, I see… ]

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  170. 170
    JGabriel says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    They could always deny Trump funding for his splendid little war, right? Or would he still be able to use discretionary spending?

    Trump will still be able to do anything he wants as long as he remains – or believes himself to remain – immune to impeachment and prosecution. In other words, as long as at least one branch of Congressional control remains in Republican hands.

  171. 171

    @jl:
    My point is that the signs have been quite consistent so far that Trump will yell about war and then do nothing whatsoever. Probably because he got burned in the Yemen raid, Trump’s military adventures since have been ‘A bombing that turned out to be a show he set up with Putin’, and ‘Following along to not look weak when France decided to bomb Assad.’ He has threatened North Korea, said he was moving ships into the area to do it, and it turned out those were lies. He’s not going to follow up his threats, and Kim and Moon both know it. It takes an incredible chickenshit to be too afraid to order other people you’ll never see to bomb other people you’ll never see, but Trump is that big a coward. (He sure isn’t holding back for any better reason.)

  172. 172
    Another Scott says:

    @The Moar You Know: I haven’t checked, but I take “unanimous” to mean that there wasn’t a recorded vote.

    It’s good, but I doubt that it really means anything with respect to JCPOA or any actions against Iran. Hope I’m wrong about that.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  173. 173
    catclub says:

    @Amir Khalid: not just broke but deeply in the red.

  174. 174
    JGabriel says:

    @Mary G:

    Notepad is my go-to for that. It minds its own business.

    Or, even better, the open source Notepad ++.

  175. 175
    catclub says:

    @JGabriel: if the South Koreans are stupid enough to agree to some peace deal that removes US troops
    (over whatever objections the US is likely to make) then they will have earned whatever they get. I doubt they are that foolish. They know their neighbors better than we do.

  176. 176
    JGabriel says:

    @rikyrah:

    South Korea was faced with a situation where they honestly believed that the President of the United States didn’t give two shyts about the millions of Koreans and the hundreds of thousands of Americans within the reach of the DMZ.

    Honestly and correctly believe that the President of the United States doesn’t give two shyts about them.

  177. 177
    JGabriel says:

    @Peter Ricketts via Adam L Silverman:

    I’ve never seen anything quite like this. Especially the “please don’t hesitate to call me if you change your mind”, which isn’t exactly the norm in Head of State communications on grave issues of peace and security… https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Dd920PaVMAImG1T.jpg

    Jeepers. The linked letter from Trump is almost Freudian in the transparency of its ulterior motives. And, of course, thoroughly Trumpian in its stupidity and the obliviousness of his self-serving and greed. Hell, ‘wealth’ is literally the last word in the body of the text.

  178. 178
    Another Scott says:

    @Woodrowfan: Yeah, I realize it’s an unpopular view.

    And honestly, I don’t think I’m giving him that much credit, because I never expected anything lasting and tangible to come from his boorish behavior.

    But I agree with several commentators I’ve heard on the BBC and elsewhere that nothing happens in the DPRK unless Kim says so, so us talking to him is worthwhile. Whether it should be Donnie or the SoS or some assistant deputy undersecretary doesn’t much matter to me. Isolating the DPRK didn’t stop them from getting a nuclear weapon nor did it stop them from getting quasi-ICBM technology. We need to recognize that, we need to work with the ROK and Japan, and China and Russia, to start the process to end the state of war there and move on.

    And I disagree with those who say that Kim wanted more than anything to talk with the US as an equal, and somehow since they want that we should refuse them. I disagree. 1) Kim wants more than anything to preserve his power over NK. That’s one reason why he hardly ever leaves the country. 2) Sure, prestige is worth a lot, but what matters more is the substance of any agreement. Talking with Donnie and having nothing concrete result doesn’t strengthen the DPRK or Kim. (He already has absolute power at home, after all.)

    I do agree that the US is weakened by Trump’s actions in building up hopes for a “denuclearization” meeting, then throwing it all away (at least temporarily), and going back to threatening war, and all the rest. But I think most of us regard Trump as an aberration and any damage he does will be temporary. The US is too important to be marginalized too long.

    I don’t think there will be a war, either – for the reasons Adam outlined – and because Donnie is a coward.

    Anyway, we’ll see what happens.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  179. 179

    @catclub:

    They know their neighbors better than we do.

    I think this is important. South Korea isn’t a bunch of children who need our direction. You can be quite sure Moon has expert assessments of what military danger South Korea is or isn’t in, and is taking them heavily into account. Plus, North Korea conquering South Korea is a pipe dream. South Korea isn’t helpless and sure as Hell isn’t going to just knuckle under and become slaves. I can’t see reunification happening, but from Moon’s perspective, any movement in the direction of peace and openness whatsoever is well worth pursuing.

  180. 180
    JGabriel says:

    @catclub:

    if the South Koreans are stupid enough to agree to some peace deal that removes US troops (over whatever objections the US is likely to make) then they will have earned whatever they get.

    Nobody deserves to be ruled by a mercurial, greedy, self-serving, narcissistic, corrupt, tyrannical moron.

  181. 181
    rsginsf says:

    The little green Schadenfreudskin dancing on my shoulder whispers: ‘Please please Nobel people, give the Peace Prize to Mr. Moon & Mr. Kim. And make a pretty coin about it! Please please!’

  182. 182
    gvg says:

    What I don’t understand is how South Korea intends to not be conquered by North Korea if the US really does pull out. According to reports Kim wants to rule both countries and clearly he is a terrible ruler. Its not just isolation, his ideas are economic stupidity and I wouldn’t think south Korea wants to starve. It seems to me they need a bigger military and some alliances. I gather they can’t ally with Japan? what about China or India or both? it really looks terrifying to me.

  183. 183
    catclub says:

    @JGabriel:

    Nobody deserves to be ruled by a mercurial, greedy, self-serving, narcissistic, corrupt, tyrannical moron.

    Not even the 62M people who voted for one?

  184. 184
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @JGabriel:
    Yes, but that moron isn’t always going to be in power.

  185. 185
    catclub says:

    @gvg:

    What I don’t understand is how South Korea intends to not be conquered by North Korea if the US really does pull out.

    I think the South Korean military is at least the equal of North Korea’s. I would guess that navy and air force are superior. Just not as overwhelming as when backed by the US. But without the US stationed at the DMZ, Kim could more easily be convinced to try pushing boundaries.

  186. 186
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @catclub:

    They deserve much worse than that

  187. 187
    catclub says:

    about those coins:

    The coin commemorating the now-canceled meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un went on sale Thursday — and with it, crashed the website for the White House gift shop.

    The commemorative coin — which features the names and silhouettes of Trump and Kim, the names of their respective countries and the phrase “Peace Talks” — was first revealed Monday.

    Four days later, the meeting was canceled. But don’t fear, if you still want your own copy, the White House gift shop is still selling the coins — now at a lower price.

  188. 188
    Hoodie says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: Having spent some considerable time working with South Koreans, I don’t think they particularly fear an invasion, probably more a destabilization of the regime and a flood of refugees. There is a lot of sentiment in favor of some form of reunification. I imagine what Kim wants is a deal where SK companies build plants in the north and he skims the profits off the labor, and SK companies would be happy to comply, as they increasingly care more about markets in China and India and would love to have a captive lower cost workforce in NK rather than China or elsewhere in Asia. Trump’s actions here and elsewhere (e.g., walking away from TPP) make us less relevant in Asia, largely because we’re a distant and now unreliable ally. As others have said, the South Koreans will make the best deal available and Trump has made it so that now the US does not provide any particular additional leverage. If I were South Korean, I’d be inclined to think that the election of this moron reveals that the US doesn’t want world leadership and wouldn’t give two shits about what happens to them.

  189. 189
    Cacti says:

    @gvg:

    What I don’t understand is how South Korea intends to not be conquered by North Korea if the US really does pull out.

    South Korea has a large and well equipped military out of necessity, and has the 7th largest annual military budget in the world, plus a compulsory 2-year service requirement for adult males ages 20-38.

  190. 190
    Agorabum says:

    @Another Scott: this is totally false. The US negotiated with the North and reached a deal to prevent the development of nukes in 1994. Which Bush pushed them to break in 2003.

    The idea that no one has engaged with NO until now is profoundly false.

  191. 191
    Dumbledore says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Use a text editor set to format in plain text. Copy-paste the plain text into WP. Format from that. Not perfect, but better than the experience you’ve described.

  192. 192
    Another Scott says:

    @Agorabum: I was too terse. I almost remarked about the earlier things with Clinton, etc., but didn’t. Thanks for the correction.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  193. 193
    TenguPhule says:

    @gvg:

    What I don’t understand is how South Korea intends to not be conquered by North Korea if the US really does pull out.

    South Korea’s armed forces are better.

    North Korea’s primary advantages are nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

    And a shitton of artillery parked within firing range of South Korea’s largest city.

  194. 194
    catclub says:

    @Agorabum:

    Which Bush pushed them to break in 2003.

    John Bolton’s fingerprints were all over that.

    OTOH, it was not clear when NK started breaking its commitments to the 1994 agreement. But the US under Bush jr made things worse.

  195. 195
    TenguPhule says:

    @catclub:

    OTOH, it was not clear when NK started breaking its commitments to the 1994 agreement.

    They formally announced that it had been broken by the US first (which Bush had done) then unsealed the nuclear plant and snowballed from there.

  196. 196
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Hoodie:

    If I were South Korean, I’d be inclined to think that the election of this moron reveals that the US doesn’t want world leadership and wouldn’t give two shits about what happens to them.

    But what if however this moron were installed by another power that is fascist and could easily do the same to the ROK?

  197. 197
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Another Scott:
    I corrected you and you never acknowledged what I said. Why?

  198. 198
    Wyatt Derp says:

    “We are attempting to make sense of what, precisely, President Trump means,”

    Welcome to the club…

  199. 199
    JGabriel says:

    @catclub:

    Nobody deserves to be ruled by a mercurial, greedy, self-serving, narcissistic, corrupt, tyrannical moron.

    Not even the 62M people who voted for one?

    The ~260M who didn’t vote for him certainly don’t deserve to be saddled with him.

    And the 62 million who voted for him don’t deserve to get what they want, particulary since 65M voted for his opponent.

  200. 200
    jonas says:

    @Adam L Silverman: He forgot to add: “And have a rad summer!”

  201. 201
    EBT says:

    @Another Scott: you mean the site that collapsed in Feb? Big consession, blowing up a site that already failed months ago.

  202. 202
    Another Scott says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: Sorry. Thanks.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  203. 203
    Another Scott says:

    @EBT: The testing site is quite large. The cave-ins were in a relatively small portion of the site. The rumored loss of hundreds of workers at the site may have been more of an issue, but nobody outside knows.

    38 North covers lots of these issues. E.g. https://www.38north.org/2018/04/punggye043018/

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  204. 204

    As a South Korean ex-pat, this is solid analysis. Basically, it took somebody as abominably unfit for office as Trump to legitimize a dictator like Kim Jong-un and turn him into “the good, reliable guy” in the Asian theater.

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