• What’s Ahead for America and North Korea? Hope? Skepticism?

    Never a dull moment for our President, who surprised the world with an unexpected meeting – his third huddle – with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un just over a week ago.

    Writing for National Review, Jack David takes a hard-eyed view:

    The first two summits with Kim Jong-un fell short, and optimism for the most recent one is hard to sustain.

    President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un have now met three times. … The first was in June 2018. … The second, in February 2019. Those summits produced modest consequences. …Then, over the weekend, with dramatic suddenness and circumstance, the two leaders held a third meeting, at the demilitarized zone.

    The expectations coming out of each of these high-drama sessions were optimistic. The actual results?  They’ve fallen far short of both leaders’ goals, writes David.

    Yet, others continue to nurture hope.

    US goals remains to persuade Kim to nix his nuke program and weapons in exchange for more auspicious economic relations with America and a more attractive historic legacy.

    The administration’s effort, including the offer of U.S. development aid, to eliminate the North Korean nuclear threat by peaceful persuasion is admirable. But just as the first two summits fell short of achieving that goal, so too the meeting to be held among nuclear experts from the two sides, as agreed at the DMZ meeting, will probably fall short.

    Neither is the “Supreme Leader” going wobbly on his targets: removal of America

    as an impediment to the achievement of the ultimate strategic goal sought by his grandfather, his father, and himself. That goal is the conquest of South Korea by force and the unification of the Korean Peninsula under his tyrannical rule.

    Diplomatic discussions continue as does both sides’ pursuit of their respective goals.

    For North Korea that means keeping its forces primed for a South Korean invasion, holding on to its vast array of artillery within range of Seoul and

    continuing to develop and strengthen its ability to fabricate nuclear weapons and deliver them by missile, or by other means, to locations as far away as cities in the continental United States.

    Given that North Korea’s actions, if not its words, evince an intention to continue its goal of conquest, the United States will continue to enforce punitive international sanctions and continue its security alliance with South Korea, including engaging in joint military exercises. North Korea has suspended its pursuit of nuclear weapons and its long-range missile tests, and in the same spirit U.S.–South Korea military exercises will continue to be scaled down, to maintain an atmosphere for ongoing congenial discussions, sustaining hope that President Trump will succeed.

    Precedents for peace emerging from the “hermit kingdom”, however, have not, heretofore, been cheering.

    There can be no question that security dangers on the Korean Peninsula have been caused by the North’s goal to conquer the South. Kim Il-sung invaded the South in 1950 with the hope that he could achieve that goal. When he failed, the armistice of 1953 ended the bloodshed, but peace did not follow. Kim Il-sung never changed his goal. When he realized that U.S. military support of the South was an obstacle to achieving his goal, he started nuclear weapons and programs for the development of long range missiles, for the purpose of acquiring the means to thwart the U.S.–South Korea alliance by putting U.S. troops and territory at risk.

    After Kim Il Sung’s death in 1994, his son, Kim Jong-il, continued and advanced both programs for the same purpose. When Kim Jong-un became dictator on his father’s death in 2011, he redoubled North Korea’s efforts in both programs and substantially increased the threat that North Korea poses not only to South Korea but to regional neighbors that have security alliances with the United States, to U.S. troops, and to the U.S. homeland.

    Translation: barring our Commander-in-Chief’s persuading Kim to lay down his imperialist ambitions in favor of economic progress, there is no reason to expect the elimination of the threat of a nuclear armed North Korea.

    Of course, that’s not to discount the “Trump Factor …

    David speculates, regardless, in the improbable case President Trump is successful? Further Gordian complications remain.

    Not least are the perils to Kim Jong-un and the rest of the North Korean leadership as they face the 25 million people of North Korea whom they have starved, imprisoned, tortured, and otherwise deprived of life and liberty, in a pattern dating back 75 years.

    Back in 1954, Winston Churchill is alleged to have declaimed something along the lines of, It is ‘better to jaw-jaw than to war-war.” Which is true – until it isn’t true. Whether dealing with Iran or Russia or China or North Korea, if diplomacy – face to face interaction – can forestall or eliminate the need of kinetic – armed – conflict, that’s a positive.

    Time will tell what Donald Trump’s recent “jaw-jaw” with the North Korean tyrant produces. As always, intense vigilance is in order.

    Image: by The White House from Washington, DC – President Trump Meets with Chairman Kim Jong Un, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=80068896

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