Tag Archives: South Korea

What happened to those sweet nothings?

All that sweet talk Donald J. Trump has been heaping on Kim Jong Un of late seems to have gone into one ear and out the other.

The North Korean dictator seems to be putting the planned Trump-Kim summit in some jeopardy because he’s angry over the planned joint military exercises that will take place with South Korean and American troops.

Kim thinks the military maneuvers are meant to prepare for an invasion of North Korea, or so he says. Thus, the summit might not happen if Kim decides to pull the plug on it.

What is happening here?

U.S. and South Korean troops have been practicing for years since the ceasefire ended shooting during the Korean War. We haven’t invaded the North yet. The exercises are meant to prepare the South for a possible invasion from the North; I mean, the North did invade the South in 1950, which caused the Korean War. Kim Jong Un’s grandfather started the fight.

The president of the United States was yammering about “little Rocket Man,” and bragging about the size of his “nuclear button.” He was taunting Kim to try anything at all to provoke a response that would deliver “fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen.”

Donald Trump changed secretaries of state. The new guy at State, Mike Pompeo, went to North Korea in secret and then the nations announced the summit between Trump and Kim.

Suddenly, Kim has become a paragon of virtue in Trump’s mind. He released those three Americans he held captive. Trump hailed Kim Jong Un as a fine man, a wonderful fellow.

Now we have Kim threatening to upset everything all over again.

Don’t tell me the North Korean despot responses positively only to epithets. That cannot possibly be true, can it?

My hope is that Trump holds his fire. If he’s able.

Nobel for Trump? Not … just … yet!

They’re chanting “No-bel! No-bel! No-bel!” at a political rally in Michigan, where the president of the United States is staging a campaign rally.

Why the chant? Well, the crowd of Trumpkins thinks Donald Trump deserves the Nobel Peace Prize because North and South Korea’s leaders shook hands at the DMZ and promised to pledged to sign a peace treaty that ends the Korean War, where the shooting stopped in 1953.

My response? Hold the phone! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

If North Korean President Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in sign that peace treaty, if Kim Jong Un disassembles nuclear weapons, and if there is a demonstrable lessening of tension on the Korean Peninsula, then let’s consider whether the president deserves the Peace Prize.

Nothing of substance has happened. There might be nothing that will happen. The planned Kim meeting with Donald Trump still hasn’t occurred. Trump has said if it is “not fruitful,” he would walk away from the meeting with Kim.

How would that look to the Nobel committee that awards these prizes? Not well, if you ask me.

If North and South Korea strike a peace deal, if the North de-nukes the peninsula and if Kim and Trump strike a long-term agreement that leads to normalization of relations between the U.S. and the reclusive Marxist regime …

By all means, consider the president as a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. But not before.

Oh, and one more thing. If by chance Donald Trump actually is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the entire world will never hear the end of it.

Never!

Why cast aspersions on predecessors?

International statecraft is a nuanced endeavor, but it’s not an entirely complicated matter.

The best practitioners of it look forward and don’t bother looking back, let alone tossing stones at those who came before them in the high office they occupy.

Thus, Donald Trump’s statements today about the pending peace agreement between South and North Korea lacked a sense of nobility one might expect from the president of the United States.

Trump spoke to the media along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He spoke seriously about the handshake and the historic meeting that occurred overnight between North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in. The two men have agreed to strike a peace deal on the Korean Peninsula, ending the official state of war that has existed since the Korean War hostilities ended in 1953.

Then he did that thing that annoys the living daylights out of me. He kept referring to his presidential predecessors’ “mistakes” in dealing with the reclusive North Korean regime.

Holy crap, Mr. President! Enough, already!

I expect fully for Trump take full credit for the deal that awaits the two Koreas. That’s fine. He can take credit if he wishes. But the expected deal came together through a complicated network of international relationships.

I just want the president to look forward from here. Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in have taken a huge step toward a long-sought-after peace agreement. It was forged by the deaths of hundreds of thousands of men — roughly 50,000 of whom were Americans — who fought a war that ended in a stalemate.

There is no need — none at all — for the president to re-litigate how his predecessors sought in vain to achieve the noble goal of peace in Korea.

Peace treaty in Korea? Holy cow!

I awoke this morning to an absolute stunner of an announcement.

Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in — the presidents of North and South Korea, respectively — have agreed to actually end the Korean War.

End the war? Yes. The Korean War never officially ended with a peace treaty. They stopped the shooting in 1953 after an armistice was signed, ending three years of bloody conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

The Koreas has been functioning with a cease-fire in place. The Demilitarized Zone separating the countries is nothing of the kind: it is the most militarized piece of real estate on Earth.

So, where do we go from here?

Kim and Moon signed an agreement to end the war. The treaty signing will occur later this year, according to the document the men signed.

But there’s more. There now appears some serious movement toward discussions relating to the denuclearization of the peninsula. That’s right. Kim Jong Un has agreed, apparently, to enter serious talks to take down his country’s nuclear ambitions.

Now for a big question: Who gets the credit for this seemingly monumental event? I have a strong hunch that the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, is going to claim all the credit for himself. He is likely to tell us his tough talk regarding “Little Rocket Man” has brought Kim to his senses.

Well, the president deserves some credit. He needs to share it with the People’s Republic of China, which quite likely also has persuaded Kim to end this ongoing conflict. North Korea has precisely one dependable ally on Earth. It is the PRC. Does anyone believe that Kim would do anything so significant without China signing off?

I am stunned today to hear the news that came out of Korea.

Let us all say a prayer that Kim Jong Un — who is as mercurial and unpredictable as Donald Trump — remains faithful to the signature he has affixed on a document pledging to end the Korean War.

Sixty-five years after the end of the bloodshed, it’s about time!

Trump’s now going after South Koreans? What … ?

I must have missed something.

South Korea has been arguably our staunchest ally in East Asia since, oh, the Korean War of 1950-53. We fought side by side with the South Koreans against North Korea and later, the People’s Republic of China.

Now the North has nuclear bombs. It is threatening to use them against South Korea. The United States is supposed to stand ready to defend the South against the North.

So, why is Donald J. Trump browbeating South Korea into doing more to deter North Korea from threatening to toss the rest of the world into a nuclear war?

South Korean leaders say they want to “talk” with their neighbors in the North. The U.S. president is having none of it. He has taken to Twitter to suggest that South Korea is run by a government of “appeasers.”

Appeasers? Are you kidding me?

No country on Earth is feeling more nervous about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s crazy threats than South Korea. That’s not good enough for Trump, who’s also now threatening to terminate a U.S.-South Korea trade agreement.

Uh, Mr. President, these guys are on our side. They’ve got more to lose in a military confrontation with North Korea than anyone.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in got elected this year promising to “talk” to North Korea. He fired back at Trump, saying that South Korea “cannot tolerate another catastrophic war on this peninsula.”

Do you think?

Why in the world cannot the president of the United States treat the South Koreans like the valuable ally they’ve been — and need to continue to be as we try to work our way through this crisis with the North?

Talk of “appeasers” and threats to cut off trade won’t do the job.

‘Threat’ would bring a huge U.S. response?

Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis needs to define “threat” in the context of North Korea.

The defense boss is sounding a bit more bellicose lately, saying that any North Korea “threat” against the United States or our allies could result in a “massive military response” that would annihilate the communist nation.

Is the defense secretary talking now about a first strike? Are we considering hitting the North Koreans before they strike the first blow?

I am uncertain why “threats” by themselves would constitute a reason to launch a bloody war against a nation with more than 1 million men in arms, a massive amount of artillery and armor — and, yes, a small but growing cache of nuclear bombs.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un issues threat almost daily. He keeps saying he’s going to do this and/or that to South Korea. He reportedly has threatened to attack Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific Ocean.

According to The Hill “Any threat to the United States or its territories including Guam or our allies will be met with a massive military response,” Mattis said in a statement outside of the White House after meeting with President Trump. 

“Kim Jong Un should take heed the United Nations Security Council’s unified voice. All members unanimously agreed on the threat North Korea poses. And they remain unanimous in their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Because we are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely, North Korea,” he continued. 

OK. We all get it. The United States is the most lethal military power on the planet. We know it. Kim knows it. The Russians and Chinese know it.

I keep wondering if this constant goading of Kim by itself is deterring him from committing a profoundly foolish act. We’ve established to the world that we mean business.

Now, let’s get back to seeking some sort of diplomatic solution.

Shall we? Hmmm?

What does Kim Jong Un want? Part 3

Kim Jong Un has a list of demands he is laying at the feet of the U.S. president.

Most of them seem to present intractable circumstances for Donald J. Trump to ponder.

Such as this one: Removal of all U.S. troops from South Korea.

It’s not going to happen, Mr. North Korean Dictator. It won’t happen at least until North and South Korea sign a peace treaty that comes with ironclad assurances that North Korea won’t ever — ever! — attack South Korea. The agreement also needs to include a denuclearization component, meaning that Kim needs to dismantle and abandon his ambitions to become a nuclear power.

Our troops commitment to South Korea was purchased with lots of blood. The Korean War’s hostilities ended in 1953 after more than 50,000 American personnel were killed in action. We came to South Korea’s defense after North Korea invaded its neighbors three years earlier. Indeed, Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, sent the troops south. So, that means the current North Korean dictator bears a bit of personal responsibility for what transpired, given that he is kin to the man who launched the aggression in the first place.

The ceasefire that both sides signed in 1953 included a commitment from the United States to defend South Korea against the North, given that the two Koreas are technically still in a state of war; no peace treaty means they cannot put their guards down.

There are roughly 28,000 U.S. troops in South Korea. That’s just part of the defense network. We have heavily armed naval vessels throughout the region and immense air power assets in places such as Guam and Japan — not to mention in South Korea.

Should we give all that up without a serious commitment to peace from North Korea?

The boy with the bad haircut — that would be Kim — surely knows we cannot do anything of the sort.

‘Locked and loaded’ to release ‘fire and fury’

The alliteration might sound good as it rolls off the tongue or typed into a tweet.

“Fire and fury” has given way to “locked and loaded.” Is it realistic? Or logical? Does it further the cause of peace?

I want to consider for a brief moment something about this confrontation between the United States and North Korea. It is the rhetoric that flies out of the pie hole of Kim Jong Un, the boy with the bad haircut who runs North Korea.

Kim sounds like the two previous Kims who ruled the nation before he inherited the regime. His father and grandfather both said much the same thing about how they would destroy South Korea, Japan, the United States or any nation that “interfered” with the “internal” politics of the Korean Peninsula.

One key difference, though, is that the current Kim reportedly can deliver a nuclear weapon aboard a missile to faraway targets.

But has he acted on his threats? Daddy Kim blustered and bellowed until his death. Grandpa Kim did invade South Korea in 1950, precipitating the Korean War; the shooting lasted until 1953 with the signing of a ceasefire, but there has not yet been a peace treaty signed that officially ends the state of war between South and North Korea.

The more serious change in the rhetorical barrage, of course, comes from our side. The U.S. president has decided to fire back with tweets and assorted public pronouncements about how he intends to release “fire and fury” on Pyongyang if that government keeps threatening the United States. Donald Trump now has said that the U.S. military is “locked and loaded” in the event the commies do anything foolish.

The president’s bellicosity does not make me feel safer. It gives me little comfort. It doesn’t provide any assurance that the current Kim is going to work overtime to find restraint in his own bizarre impulses.

Diplomatic decorum would dictate that the president — the commander in chief of the world’s mightiest military — remain calm, reasoned and rational. Kim knows the United States can obliterate his country. Is he going to doom his people — and himself — to certain death now that he allegedly has the capability to launch a nuclear weapon at the United States of America?

I don’t know. I do know that he hasn’t delivered on any of the threats he has made already. As for the man he is staring in the face, Donald Trump, he doesn’t need to boast in front of the whole world about being “locked and loaded.”

We get the point, Mr. President. We’re the biggest, baddest dudes on the block. I’m quite sure Kim Jong Un knows it, too.

Does this guy have a death wish?

Now that the North Koreans have demonstrated — apparently — that they have a intercontinental ballistic missile capable of packing a nuclear warhead, it is good to ponder something about the boy with the bad haircut who runs that country.

Does Kim Jong Un have a death wish? Does he really and truly wish for this country to be destroyed in a full retaliatory strike by the world’s most powerful nation? Does the dictator really believe he can bully the United States of America with threats of a nuclear missile strike on major West Coast cities?

I keep coming with “no” on all counts?

Please do not misconstrue me on this. I am not dismissing any threat that this fruitcake dictator poses to South Korea, or Japan, or to the U.S. of A. Any dictator who is capable of allowing his people to starve while building a formidable military apparatus is capable, I suppose, of anything.

There are times, though, when it’s tempting to try to insert oneself into the skull of someone else. I try to do that on occasion with this clown. He blusters, boasts and bellows about how he intends to react whenever the United States conducts military drills with South Korea. But we keep performing these exercises. And nothing happens. We get no response from North Korea.

I suppose this is my of suggesting that a pre-emptive military strike against North Korea is likely the worst of a series of bad options facing the U.S. commander in chief.

Donald Trump once referred to Kim Jong Un as a “smart cookie.” Let’s take the president at his word, then, that this fellow is able to discern political reality when it stares him in the face.

Here’s one of those reality-based factors: Any missile fired at the United States of America or at South Korea is virtually guaranteed to provoke a response from this country that will destroy North Korea.

Does the North Korean tinhorn really and truly want that to happen?

North Korea: most dangerous worldwide threat?

Let’s turn our attention for a moment or two to North Korea and its lunatic leader, Kim Jong Un.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the other day that military action against North Korea is “on the table” if Kim decides to do something foolish, such as launch a missile in the direction of the United States or one of our allies, such as, say, Japan or South Korea.

I guess it’s always been understood that military action would be an option for the United States. However, for the secretary of state to tell Kim Jong Un out loud and to put this guy on alert seems to me to be a dangerous potential gambit.

I’ve noted already that Kim may be nuts, but he ain’t stupid.

It’s the nuttiness that should cause us all grave concern.

North Korea has more than a million of its citizens in the military. The country has a total population of around 25 million. It spends far more than it can afford on its military apparatus.

Do you wonder what a guy like Kim would do to avoid a war with the United States? Look at this way: A leader who would allow his people to starve to death, to subject them to famine and to deny them health care just so he can build a military machine is capable of just about any act of idiocy imaginable.

Yeah, this guy is a frightening individual.

I am not sure whether Tillerson thinks his talk about the “military option” is going to persuade Kim Jong Un that a fight against the United States is not winnable.

My hope would be that it would give Kim pause. My fear is quite different. I fear he might conclude that a U.S. attack would finish the destruction of his country that he and his communist forebears have begun.

How in the world does one analyze what goes through what passes for this individual’s mind?

My next question is this: Does the president of the United States and his national security team have the moxie and savvy to contain this guy?