Thursday, 14 June 2018

Can Kim trust Trump?


All it would take would be some pretext alleging that Pyongyang is up to no good, and suddenly the deal could be off with the articulation of Trump’s pen
by FRANK SELLERSJune 13, 2018, 06:40
US President Donald J. Trump actually followed through on his meeting with Korean leader Kim Jong Un, despite the on again off again track record of talks between the two leaders. Not only that, he actually didn’t just get up and walk out, as he had threatened to do, if his gut didn’t signal to him that the discussions were going to bear fruit. But as we know, Trump loves the shock and awe factor, and that’s part of how he operates. He likes to create conditions of suspense so that everyone sits on the edge of their seats wondering what he’s going to do, so that whatever he does is like a bolt from the blue. And that’s sort of what happened here. But the story hasn’t concluded yet. The meetings were surprising in that they occurred, in and of themselves, but the outcome isn’t as much surprising, largely because there wasn’t a whole lot of room for legitimate and meaningful progress towards any actual goals being accomplished on such an initial meeting.
When the French President Emmanuel Macron travelled to DC to butter up Trump in an effort to secure the preservation of the nuclear non proliferation deal with Iran, not much was accomplished, except for the usual ‘maybe, maybe not’ routine, although it’s not as though, even if Trump were indeed willing at some point to take that path, that Trump would have actually committed to sticking with the deal because of the relations between the two leaders, which were apparently improved considerably by their meetings, so that he would sign on to something meaningful in renewing the agreement. Although in the case of North Korea here, we do at least have Trump’s signature on a statement of intent to push forward with negotiations to iron out a peace agreement, an apparent end to America’s provocative activities on the peninsula, and the eventual full denuclearization of the North Korean regime.

Essentially, the joint statement says that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States of America are declaring their intentions to develop diplomatic relations between their two nations, promote peace on the Korean peninsula together, work towards a denuclearization programme, and the recovery of the remains of POW/MIAs. It doesn’t really say or do anything meaningful in the context of achieving any of those things other than declaring that these are the intentions of these two nations going forward. But of course, it doesn’t have to, either.
Trump has additionally declared that the ‘provocative and expensive’ military exercises were going to stop, which encountered a snag over what VP Pence meant by saying that exercises will, in fact, continue. Criticisms from many mainstream analysts and media outlets on the joint statement and the announcement by Trump about the military drills in South Korea range from concerns that the document is not specific enough with its definitions or lack of certain conditions to worries that Trump is giving up war games exercises without getting enough in return to the fact that the meeting didn’t come out with any formal results on the issues of peace or denuclearization.
Personally, I find these criticisms to be quite silly. Nothing has been defined or laid out to even be signed off on in the manner of really getting anything done by this meeting up to date, so that the concept that everything was to be sorted out and dealt with in one initial meeting is really shallow thinking, and very unrealistic. Complaining that a declaration to dismantle a nuclear arsenal is not enough in exchange to cut back on some military war games is simply dumbfounding, as I’m not quite sure how you intend to get more in return for something like that, the very prospect of such an exchange is entirely disproportionate, although granting that the cessation of the war games drills isn’t all there is or may be as this process moves forward, but that’s not really giving very much in exchange for nuclear disarmament. If anyone is giving more than they’re getting, it looks like the DPRK is putting the most skin in the game. After all, America still has 28,000 boots in South Korea and the ROK and Japan are both still in America’s nuclear defense umbrella.
If one wants to look for reasons to criticize what happened in Singapore between Trump and Kim, there is no shortage of ways and reasons to do so, but reason seems to be the last thing that the mainstream media wants to employ. Primarily, one can look to the fact that Trump’s agreement to something is no indication that he intends to stand by it. Just before he hopped on board Air Force One to head to Singapore in order to have this meeting with Kim, he had approved of the communique to be issued by the G7 summit, but reneged on that once he got on his plane. The tariffs regime relative to China is something that can be pointed to, as back and forth tariffs measures were levied by Washington and Beijing before some sort of agreement was brokered to cut back on these measures, before they were renewed on Washington’s part.
What’s more is Trump’s apparent disdain for multilateralism in preference for bilateral agreements, while this Korean situation is a multilateral one of its very nature, and will include the signatories to the original armistice, in order to establish a peace regime, and several regional powers who want to realize a nuclear free Korean peninsula, so that we’re staring down the barrel of a multilateral agreement being hammered out here if the process manages to progress that far. That is, unless all the parties involved are successful enough in stroking his Trump Tower sized ego by making him feel like it was all his accomplishment
Of course, any deal reached between Trump and Kim must be a ‘good’ deal or else Trump won’t sign on to it, or at the least won’t stick with it. The Iran deal was branded as a ‘bad’ deal by Trump, and so he backed out of it. But another concern is that of Trump’s own fickleness. His reversal of position on the G7 communique wasn’t about the contents of the statement itself, but over the fact that the Canadian PM said that Trump’s logic for levying tariffs on Canada over ‘national security’ reasons was ‘insulting’, which criticism was perceived by Trump as a sort of back stab, and, as a reprisal for such mean words, he instructed his delegates not to endorse the statement that the G7 was still to issue, even though he had previously approved of it. .
But Trump’s behaviour regarding the Iran nuclear deal is what really takes the cake, and serves as the closest possible comparison to a denuclearization agreement on the Korean peninsula. Much fuss is being made over the insistence that the nuclear disarmament by the DPRK must be ‘complete’ irreversible, and verifiable’. Who decides whether whatever actions the DPRK takes in that regard meet those standards? The IAEA? Their word isn’t good enough on the Iran deal, as they have been regularly certifying Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA for years, and they’ve got a level of access to Iran’s facilities that is deemed ‘unprecedented’.
But Washington, and Tel Aviv, insist that Iran is actually violating the terms of the deal and operating a clandestine nuclear program, and that’s the main reason why the JCPOA was a ‘bad’ deal. Well, that and the fact that Iran lends some assistance to Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and allegedly sponsors militant muslim radicals the world over. And maybe because they’re just Iran and Iran is definitely the bad guys, no matter what. Similarly, that’s likely why so many of Trump’s apologists who want to defend his backing out of the JCPOA insist that ‘the JCPOA wasn’t perfect’, as though that somehow justifies scrapping it without any sort of replacement at all. But then, Washington’s demands told us what the real issue is, and it’s not about whether they really think that Iran is training and funding a bunch of radicalized Sunnis to go about on murderous rampages all around the world (even though the Iran government and the Sunnis are not best of pals) but that Iran is assisting Assad in Syria.
Washington basically demands that Iran give up its foreign policy and basically any and all armaments, not just the nuclear stuff. That’s not because Iran is a threat to the stability of the Middle East, or is bombing every other country in the Middle East, or funding and training terrorists to do that sort of thing, no, that’s the Americans who openly do that stuff. If training and funding terrorists for the purpose of destabilizing nations in the Middle East is a good reason for a nation to give up its foreign policy and its military capabilities, in addition to its nuclear arsenal, then where are the cries that Washington repurposes the insanely massive military budget and focuses only on its domestic concerns and lets the Middle East finally realize peace and development? But that’s right, the apologists also tell us the JCPOA wasn’t ‘perfect’ because Tehran could still make ballistic missiles, even if they’re not nuclear warheads.
That might be a major concern if one thought that Iran was going to use that somewhere, as if the allegations that come out of Washington and the mainstream media were accurate. You know, like the stuff they tell us about Russia. The election hacking of just about everybody, the skripal poisonings, the hacking of diplomatic offices, to the cold of winter, you name it, the Russians are behind it. It’s Washington and the MSM that keep cranking these allegations out, and they’re the same ones telling us that Iran is this big threat that’s behind all the bad stuff in the Middle East, like the destabilization of Iraq, or Libya, or Syria, or Yemen… scratch those last four, that was somebody else, pay no heed. But everything else, those Iranians are behind it, and they are a force for chaos and destabilization. Well, perhaps in the opinion of the guy who made his little presentation about Iran’s alleged violations of the JCPOA that Trump made reference to in his withdrawal declaration, maybe so.
No, that’s about the interests of Israel and the Gulf States, and painting Iran as the villain is how that goal is accomplished. The rhetoric about Iran is no more true than Saddam’s WMDs or Putin’s hacking the American elections in order to put Trump in the Oval Office. But it served as a good enough of an excuse to scrap a multilateral nuclear non proliferation agreement against the urgings of every other signatory and many other nations the world over. If that’s how Washington makes its decisions, that essentially means that at any point in time, Washington could decide that it thinks that North Korea is actually violating its nuclear disarmament agreement, no matter how stringently its is supervised and overseen and no matter who performs that task. All it would take would be some pretext, some allegation that Pyongyang is up to no good, and suddenly the deal could be off with the articulation of Trump’s pen.


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