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Chang writes: "On Saturday North Korea's Foreign Ministry called just-completed talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo 'regrettable.' They were, the ministry said, 'very concerning' because they could lead to a 'dangerous phase that might rattle our willingness for denuclearization that had been firm.'"

Mike Pompeo. (photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters)
Mike Pompeo. (photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters)

Trump's North Korea Policy Just Collapsed

By Gordon C. Chang, The Daily Beast

08 July 18

Pyongyang, by humiliating Secretary of State Pompeo, exposed the fallacy at the heart of American policy.

n Saturday North Korea’s Foreign Ministry called just-completed talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “regrettable.” They were, the ministry said, “very concerning” because they could lead to a “dangerous phase that might rattle our willingness for denuclearization that had been firm.”

The ministry also complained about America’s “gangster-like mindset.”

The statement embarrassed Pompeo, who just hours before issued a sunny assessment of the two-day discussions. There had been, he said, “progress on almost all of the central issues.”

Perhaps the Foreign Ministry statement was just another example of Pyongyang’s negotiating tactics, but it nonetheless signaled the collapse of President Donald Trump’s North Korea policy.

That policy was based on the assumption that Chairman Kim Jong Un had made a strategic decision to give up his arsenal of nuclear weapons. Acting on that assumption, Trump immediately started a new round of diplomacy by keeping Pompeo in the region after the historic June 12 summit in Singapore.

It was right for the president to give Kim the “one-time shot” to make the historic decision to give up nukes. It was right for Trump to accelerate diplomacy after the summit. It was right for him to put Kim to the test by sending Pompeo to Pyongyang.

And now it is right for Trump to say Kim has wasted that opportunity and act accordingly.

The North Koreans say the talks were “regrettable”? It’s time to give them something to really regret. There have to be consequences.

There were consequences in late May. Then, North Korean propaganda writers issued belligerent words in general and torched Mike Pence in particular, calling the vice president a “political dummy.”

Trump’s response was quick. On May 24, he withdrew from the then-upcoming summit with Kim.

The reaction from Pyongyang was even quicker. North Korean official rhetoric went from belligerent to conciliatory in hours.

This time, Trump needs to pull the plug on negotiations.

Why should there be such a short fuse? Trump, by making concessions in May and June, created a situation where delay greatly benefits the North Koreans.

Trump placed trust in Kim’s good faith, even generously giving the North Korean incentives to stall negotiations. The president backed off sanctions, for instance, providing de facto relief. Moreover, he has been allowing China to violate U.S. and UN measures with impunity, and he has not acted against a slightly less-brazen Russia either.

More important, since at least the end of May the administration has held off sanctioning almost three dozen entities, some of them Russian and Chinese. Because North Korea continually changes front companies, not going after Pyongyang’s new shells essentially spells the end of sanctions.

Trump gave Kim another gift: suspension of large-scale joint military exercises with South Korea. The president, incredibly, did that without getting the North Koreans to suspend their drills. Therefore, the Korean People’s Army will proceed with its summer training cycle while U.S. and South Korea forego August’s Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise, intended to keep UN Command forces at a high state of readiness.

All this means Trump cannot waste time.

Trump has famously boasted of his new relationship with Kim. By now, the president has learned—or should have learned—that Kim rulers do not reciprocate friendly gestures. They perceive them as signs of weakness and then press the advantage. While Trump was toasting and complimenting the current Kim, his regime was increasing production of fissile material and continuing construction of missile facilities.

The only way to disarm North Korea is to give whoever is in charge—Kim or perhaps someone else—no choice but to give up weapons. That means, as a practical matter, imposing extremely high costs for stunts like the one he—or they—just pulled. The Wall Street Journal in late May reported that UN and U.S. sanctions cut the flow of international payments to Kim in half. That number could be reduced by, say, another 40 percent, with vigorous enforcement, including a blockade.

And it would be best for Washington to go after Pyongyang’s big-power sponsors, Beijing and Moscow. The Chinese, in particular, have exerted a malign influence in recent months. As Trump himself suggested on various occasions—for instance at his May 22 press conference while hosting South Korean President Moon Jae-in—China was responsible for Kim’s unwelcome “little change in attitude.”

Trump, in response to Beijing troublemaking, can enforce U.S. law against money-laundering Chinese banks. All of the so-called Big Four have been implicated in this sordid activity, and at a minimum billion-dollar fines are in order. Furthermore, the Treasury Department should think about designating Bank of China, the smallest of the group, a “primary money laundering concern” pursuant to Section 311 of the Patriot Act, essentially a death sentence for an international institution. Designation leads to being disconnected from dollar accounts.

Trump, who has repeatedly said he was not going to make the mistakes of his predecessors, just did, in this case by trying to ingratiate himself with a horrific regime. The North Koreans, by going out of their way to embarrass Pompeo, made Trump pay a price, exposing the fallacy at the heart of his policy.

So now it is time for Trump to return the favor. Last month, referring to Supreme Commander Kim, the American leader said “he won’t have that opportunity again.”

Kim had his chance and blew it. Trump cannot take back the legitimization he conferred on Kim in Singapore, but he can take away just about everything else. your social media marketing partner


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+105 # indian weaving 2018-07-08 10:53
Trump and Pompeo blew it, not Kim. Pompeo has already demonstrated his utter ignorance when levying sanctions against Iran with ridiculous demands that were and are laughable worldwide. Kim never offered to give up his nuclear weapons. But Pompeo and Trump "thought" he did. Both of these USA idiots are losers, not Kim. The USA has NO options other than forget it and keep their mouths shut as they only speak ignorance and lies.
+19 # Jaax88 2018-07-08 18:53
trump seems to make imaginary pronouncements and then thinks they will come true because he is a self-pronounced genius. Usually balloons or bubbles will pop or run out of air and fail on their own accord. I think it behooves the American people to pop trumps phony and destructive efforts to turn America into an authoritarian state or worse.
+84 # BetaTheta 2018-07-08 13:27
What else would one expect when both parties' chief tactic is "unpredictabili ty?" And both are motivated, not by a genuine desire for peace, but their own power and aggrandizement, and cynical manipulation of their respective populations.
+2 # Robbee 2018-07-08 16:52
Quoting BetaTheta 2018-07-08 13:27:
What else would one expect when both parties' chief tactic is "unpredictability?" And both are motivated, not by a genuine desire for peace, but their own power and aggrandizement, and cynical manipulation of their respective populations.

- close but no cigar?

like the train wreck they are, dickhead and un are heading toward a logical conclusion to their competing, egomaniac ambitions

the interesting dynamic is that 3 non-allied autocrats, putin, un and sing? have to decide this mid-term election what stance to influence dickhead's majorities in congress? - all 3 are apparently capable of HACKING our elections - all 3, plus khomeni, maybe erdogan, are capable of giving his leadership compelling thumbs up OR thumbs down - dickhead proclaims peace with un is down to him - as dickhead marshalls his xenophobes, the spotlight shifts to the reaction of foreign autocrats dickhead legitimates!
+4 # BetaTheta 2018-07-10 09:00
Trump has been the naive one here, thinking that Kim could be dazzled by visions of Trump hotels on North Korean beaches.
+12 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-07-08 13:41
I think we all expected Pompeo to do all he could to undermine the progress made when Trump and Kim met. It really does not matter much. Negotiations are under full steam among China, Russia, N. Korea, and S. Korea. Japan may join in. This will open up trade among these nations and break the US sanctions. N. Korea does not need a nuclear bomb. It needs normal relations with other nations. The US can never give that. It has never given that to any nation. Iran or Cuba is a good example.

The US is now pretty much irrelevant. It may wave its arms around and its mass media will probably choke and puke, but the US and its media is just out of the picture. Peace and normal relations between nations are in progress and the US isn't a part of that.

The best think for Pompeo to do is go home and mind his own business. Stay the fuck out of east Asia. He is not wanted there.
+9 # PABLO DIABLO 2018-07-08 14:06
"Give peace a chance".
+5 # joe_me 2018-07-08 14:17
NK is playing Pompeo & 45 like a drum.
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-07-09 10:38
. . . and what would be wrong with that. All US presidents get played by Israel and Saudi Arabia. Now that's a problem.
+7 # HenryS1 2018-07-08 14:21
For Chang to be so confident of our "next steps" without having any notion of what Pompeo did in the recent talks is without any credibility.

I'm not defending Trump, or Pompeo, or Kim. I'm just saying we have no clue what the US said to elicit the response, so if we want to concern ourselves we need to have an elementary notion of what happened, if Trump/Pompeo will tell us what WE did or said, which seems doubtful.
+8 # Visca Catalunya 2018-07-08 15:00
No surprise here. Trump put the cart before the horse-- insteade of negotiating diplomatically a complex and detailed nucleariation agreement first, then calling a summit he did just the opposite. with much bluster and fanfare Trump claimed that he just solved the Korea problem, lavishing praise on Kim, legitimizing his tyranical reign, making many concessions for nothing in return, just empty promises for the photo op. I guess he needed this charade to continue to appeal to his low IQ, poorly informed base.
+10 # magnes 2018-07-08 16:21
Mr Gordon Chang should be ashamed to write such an article...seems he wants to use the same tactics that Trump et all use...threats, intimidation, well called "gangster tactics" by N. Korea...
His call to more hostilities is dangerous in this day and time and has no place in journalism
Reporter: to report news, not to voice your opinions....
+8 # lfeuille 2018-07-08 18:04
Trump should just butt out and let Moon and Kim work it out themselves. Kim's weapons are no threat to us unless Trump starts threatening NK again.
+4 # Blackjack 2018-07-08 18:37
Kim played Trump and Pompeo and now Trump is playing Chang! Idiots all!
+8 # tedrey 2018-07-08 19:02

Pompeo and Bolton incessently present the North Koreans as agreeing to goals and methods to which they have never shown any sign of agreeing.

They have claimed, with no hint from either N. or S. Korea of the truth of their statements, that NK has agreed to: elimination of all missles as well as bombs; elimination of all biological and chemical as well as nuclear stocks; all sanctions to be applied until *all* conditions are completed; "all North Korea" that is to be denuclearized, ignoring "the Korean peninsula" on wnich NK *always* insists (Pompeo, yesterday); that it will not be international observers but *Americans* on-the-ground who will monitor and confirm that all terms have been fulfilled (Bolton, yesterday.)

TMhey also mention nothing whatsoever that America will agree to actually perform until after all this has been performed by North Korea. How is this different from demanding the total and irreversible surrender of North Korea?
+6 # tedrey 2018-07-08 19:09

When NK says they never agreed to any of these arrangements, they will be telling the truth, but the Trump gang will accuse them of reneging on the "agreement." and talks will end.

This is actually the intended plan.

Pompeo and Bolton have two negotiating goals. One, to blow up the talks with NK and make them fail, and two, to make Americans, if no one else, blame the North Koreans for the failure. (Trump Americans will believe any nonsense if repeated enough.) Thus we will return to the "threatening" North Korea that the military needs to poin to in order to hoover up the billions it wants to satisfy its voracious appetite.

The rest of the world will probably see through this.

+10 # DonnaLynne 2018-07-08 20:33
The article keeps saying, Trump did, said, etc. Trump didn't do anything...espe cially when he has a 6th grade vocabulary.
Oh, except a hand shake...
This is due to Trump/his Admin. not having a plan for all options and/or the people to execute.
Failure all around
+7 # DudeistPriest 2018-07-08 22:39
So what exactly did Kim blow? He's still got his ICBM's and thermonuclear bombs, and there's not a damned thing we can do about it. Considering our hostility to Russia and China I wouldn't count on them honoring any of our sanctions. Why should they? The US went in and demanded abject surrender and Kim, like any sovereign ruler, told them to go pound sand. If the US won't act reasonably why should they care about our sanctions. I'm sure that Xi, Putin and Kim knew all along that the US would overplay it's hand, and that the plans for dealing with it were laid out well in advance.

So what will the 'exceptional' morons do? Attacking North Korea is out of the question unless you want to see nukes going off in San Francisco and LA. Furthermore, China has stated unequivocally that they will not permit a US regime change operation in NK. So despite it's chest thumping and bellowing the US is showing itself to be impotent and irrelevant. All that will come of this is a loss of prestige and the further diminution of the US military in the eyes of the world.

I love it!
+7 # Romesh Bhattacharji 2018-07-09 03:23
Why does the US pretend to be the victim against N Korea? For 60 years the US has surrounded N Korea with aggressive troops and made its intent clear by holding threatening exercises twice a year.

What else can a small country do but do everything to defend itself? Why should it trust the US?

Stop saying that the world is threatened by North Korea's nuclearisation. Only the US is.

The US is villain but its formidable propaganda industry pretends that it is the saint.
+2 # ljslotnick 2018-07-09 20:54
Gordon Chang: Who are you and whose payroll are you on? Other commenters have said it all. Trump and Pompeo are un-learned and un-skilled hacks. You think those non-threatenong sounding "economic sanctions" don't leave a bad taste in people's mouths? It's economic warfare plain and simple. The US engages in economic warfare with countries, and then expects them to behave respectfully toward us in order to get relief from the sanctions? Clue: Black Markets exist.
Trump and Popeo were played. Guess what folks. China and other Pacific nations can and will do business with North Korea, and the US can't do anything about it. The US has lost much of it's credibility on the world stage as a results of Trumps isolationist approach. North Korea doesn't need anything from the United States.
0 # Sir Morien 2018-07-10 20:44
Fascinating premises are found within Chang's diatribe: first, that the world is accountable primarily to the U.S.; secondly, that the U.S. and European nations are the sole "responsible agents" for nuclear armaments; thirdly, that the Trump administration had any business whatsoever in North Korea rather than South Korea; fourthly, that continuing the same lame sanctions won't simply accelerate Kim's nuclearization of the Peninsula, and; fifthly, that this administration has ANY common sense or diplomacy within it!!!

Trump responded in kind to Kim's emotionally immature rants and tantrums about Pence--it's all either knows to do to capture world attention. Chang clearly has anti-Korean sentiments that he's allotting to Trump as his vehicle.

Ignorant reporting on predictable relations from immature and power-crazed leadership in both countries who are smelling themselves exhaling the funk! The "fallacy at the heart of this report" was wrongly expecting professional journalism!
0 # Salus Populi 2018-07-11 15:11
It's gratifying to see that the comments section is not taken in by the usual bushwah that inevitably paints the most powerful, overweening, and arrogant nation in history as a "victim" of perfidy.

The U.S. has, since WWII, treated South Korea as a satrapy and the North as a violent lunatic. The DPRK has no reason at all to trust the U.S. to do anything but plot its total destruction.

From 1950 to 1953, the U.S. killed almost a third of the entire North's population; leveled every building over two stories in the entire country by bombing it more heavily than the total amount of bombs used by all sides in World War II; carried out biological experiments on Korean POWs; carried out chemical warfare against the country; planned and threatened to nuke its capital city; carried out semiannual war games a few miles off its coast, as well as actually in its airspace; reneged on every agreement it made to reduce tensions with the government there; carried out acts of war in the form of blockades and sanctions, which are also intended to further deprive and starve the North Koreans to punish them for choosing a communist government; illegally threatened sovereign third parties with retaliation unless they went along with the illegal unilateral sanctions the U.S. was imposing; and sent Pence and then Pompeo to threaten the Koreans and demand unilateral concessions, so that it could blame the other side for refusing to cooperate in its own liquidation. How would we respond?

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