North Korea

They’re Not Wrong

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Talks between North Korean and American diplomats collapsed almost as quickly as they began in Sweden over the weekend with both sides bringing nothing new to the table.

The Trump regime initially deny that talks had broken down, but there's little doubt now as further talks have been tentatively rescheduled for later this month or possibly never.

For their part, the North Koreans say they don't believe the United States will bring a realistic plan to future talks (this is empirically true) so there's no point in engaging in future talks.

“We have no intention to hold such sickening negotiations as ... happened this time (in Sweden) before the U.S. takes a substantial step to make complete and irreversible withdrawal of the hostile policy toward the DPRK,” KCNA state news agency cited a spokesperson for North Korea’s foreign ministry as saying, referring to the official name of North Korea. [...]

“They want to create the impression that the cause of the impasse is the inflexibility of the U.S. side - and they likely want to force the United States to either come back with a more favorable negotiating position or eventually force President Trump to engage at the summit level to keep diplomacy alive,” said Mintaro Oba, a former U.S. State Department official specializing in the Koreas.

Vipin Narang, a nuclear affairs expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, added that North Korea is also buying time to continue to expand and improve its missile and nuclear force, and negotiate the terms by which it is accepted as a nuclear weapons power.

“If that’s the case, their best strategy is to dangle the hope of a fictional future deal but stall on actual negotiations, let alone crafting or implementing any such deal,” Narang said.

At a deeper level, the North Koreans are wrong, but on the surface they are not.

It's not as if North Korea is a reliable negotiating partner and it's not as if they've ever had any intention of engaging in substantive talks that could result in disarmament, but it's also true that the United States is not a reliable negotiating partner under Trump. Diplomacy under Trump is a graveyard with virtually every diplomatic effort undertaken during his time in office failing if not making matters worse. Trump regime officials cannot negotiate anything that previous administrations didn't lay the groundwork for.

If North Korea's goal is to "dangle the hope of a fictional future deal" to string Trump along, that is a smart strategy to employ since it has worked so well for more than a year now.

I'm not an "expert," but with Trump seemingly losing interest in North Korea and with virtually no buzz surrounding current or future talks between the two sides, I would not be surprised to see North Korea resume nuclear testing in 2020 if only to reassert themselves as the center of attention; something Trump won't let go because he is suppose to be the center of attention.

Trump's reign is already in tatters today so there's no telling what he'll do next year when he's fighting the collapse of not just his government, but also his life outside of government. Trump and his entire family will be in serious legal and financial jeopardy as soon as he leaves the White House.

  • waspuppet

    What’re you talking about? Trump has a perfectly reasonable plan, and even has backups in place.

    Plan A: You give me everything I want, you get nothing, and you tell the world how great and powerful I am.


    If you don’t get what you want, yell it louder. Works like a charm — just look at Trump’s business career oh wait a second.

  • This asshole (Trump) and his enablers have decimated America’s reputation and will leave our foreign relations in tatters. The Republicans have styled themselves as foreign policy experts for decades and whether true or not (not) they have thrown all that away to let a syphilitic narcissist with no knowledge, wisdom or maturity destroy every bit of good will we have in the world. And they still bitch about Obama, who did everything to revitalize America’s standing in the world.

  • muselet

    North Korea has Donald Trump’s number. Kim Jong-un has by now figured out that Trump envies him the freedom to have someone disloyal summarily executed with anti-aircraft guns.

    I’m equally sure Kim has been briefed by Vladimir Putin—vicious autocrats gotta stick together—on how to get the best results out of Trump.

    As I keep saying, Donald Trump is making East Asia a far more dangerous place.