Diplomacy and Northern Korea

The Wall Street Journal‘s Gerald Seib had a piece extolling the virtues of the Republic of Korea’s willingness to engage in formal, summit-level diplomacy with northern Korea coupled with President Donald Trump’s sub rosa willingness to talk.

There were, though, some serious misunderstandings in the article.  Here are a couple:

[T]here is no way to know for sure what the North Koreans are willing to give up without testing their intentions.

Apparently Seib has been doing a Rip van Winkle impression. For the last 25 years, the northern Korean government has said they’ll never give up their nuclear weapons goals.  We know for sure that what northern Korea is willing to give up is nothing.

Costs, and Costs

The fight to drive the Daesh out of Iraq (while killing too few of them IMNSHO) has caused more than $45 billion in infrastructure damage to Iraq.

That’s roughly half the cost of the damage a couple of hurricanes did in Texas and Florida last year, an even smaller ratio when Puerto Rico is figured in.  But it’s a lot of damage for a nation like Iraq.

What might that imply, besides the relative wealth of the two nations?

One is the relative dependence we have on our more highly developed, and so expensive, infrastructure compared to Iraq.  Iraq is scraping by with that level of damage and already beginning to recover.

The Secretary of State for Defense Is Correct

Two Daesh terrorists who grew up in Great Britain have been captured.

Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson told the Sun newspaper on Saturday: “I don’t think they should ever set foot in this country again.”

Williamson is absolutely correct.  Barbarians like this, who think terrorism is the way to go, should be allowed freely to leave to join their barbaric gangs.

And then they should be barred from returning.  Forever.

A New Category

There is a need for a discussion of how to handle terrorism and terrorists.  Before that discussion can be useful, though, we need to understand the relationship among terrorism, crime, and war.  This is a beginning of that discussion.

We currently have two categories of conflict participants which I’ll term—my layman’s terms, understand, not any legal or legalistic ones—criminal and soldier or combatant.  The one is a domestic (usually) question involving the violation of a nation’s domestic criminal laws.  The other is an international question involving a nation’s soldiers or combat arms engaging in more or less declared war and during the conduct of which the nation and its soldiers are subject, together and individually, to national laws and generally agreed international laws of war (for instance, the Geneva Conventions).

A Grasping EU

French President Emmanuel Macron has repeated the EU’s diktat that Great Britain, after leaving the European Union, cannot have full trade relations with the EU unless the British open their borders to anyone in the EU who wants in and accept the dominance of EU courts over the British government and laws.  In addition to that, the Brits must make a “contribution to the budget.”

This is just a naked power grab by the EU, and national sovereignty be damned.  What the EU is doing here is just a kinder, gentler western Europe version of what Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying against Ukraine and threatening the Baltics, Poland, and Moldova with.

An Embassy Move

The Trump administration has taken steps to speed up the move of the US embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  Instead of building new, the administration

has decided to modify an existing property to accommodate the new mission that will open next year, US officials said.

Good.  This illustrates that President Donald Trump is not just engaging in Obamatalk about any move, he’s actually suiting action to his words.

A Bad Deal

And all for the sake of a personal legacy, apparently.

Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in has cut an Olympic-sized deal with northern Korea concerning the latter’s participation in next month’s Winter Olympics.  According to the deal,

South Korean athletes and performers [will go] north of the demilitarized zone for training at a North Korean ski resort and a cultural event at a scenic mountain resort.


[T]he two Koreas will walk into the opening ceremony of next month’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, under one flag—the unification flag that depicts all of Korea. The two countries’ women’s ice hockey teams will unite to form a joint Korean squad.

Nuclear Weapons Proliferation

President Donald Trump has moved to fix or withdraw from ex-President Barack Obama’s (D) Executive Agreement with Iran, cosigned by the leaders of a number of European nations, covering Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Folks can argue that this step has taken too long (and the terms of Obama’s EA have not been fixed, yet, nor have we canceled it; the deadline for that is next May), and I’m among the impatient.  However, the delay isn’t all bad (so far), since discussions of the Agreement, both public and behind the scenes (I assume), over the course of this delay have made the problems with it plainly evident, and the other parties to the deal no longer have excuses—they’ve have plenty of time to make their positions plain.

Northern Korea and Talks

Jonathan Cheng had a piece in the Wall Street Journal that talked about differences in policy held by RoK President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump, especially concerning northern Korea.  He seemed surprised that friends or allies could disagree with each other rather than one simply being a satrap of the other.

Withal, though, I want to comment on one remark he had at the end of his piece.

[Moon suggested that] the end goal of international pressure and sanctions is to “find a way for North Korea to live together in peace with the international community”—a comment that appears at odds with the US goal of denuclearization.


Maybe German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel is figuring a couple of things out.  Here are a couple of his remarks in an interview with Spiegel Online:

In the past, we could rely on the French, the British and, especially, the Americans, to assert our interests in the world. We have always criticized the US for being the global police, and it was often appropriate to do so. But we are now seeing what happens when the US pulls back. There is no such thing as a vacuum in international politics. If the US leaves the room, other powers immediately walk in. In Syria, it’s Russia and Iran. In trade policy, it’s China. These examples show that, ultimately, we are no longer achieving…the dissemination of our European values nor the advancement of our interests.