“Can you be sure of anything?” says Donald Trump about the North Korea deal

“Can you be sure of anything?” says Donald Trump about the North Korea deal

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The Korean Peninsula has for long been a geopolitical flashpoint and a cause for considerable anxiety.  It has put to test many a US President over the past – almost 70 years!

Then you have dear Donald come by and shake every branch of the post-Cold War infrastructure.  Yes, that’s exactly what I believe he is attempting to do. It is really a continuation of the “New World Order” doctrine put forth by the George Bush Senior. However, when it comes to Trump the shaking seems to be a lot harder, more erratic and at times even eccentric. Also, his relationship with the media or should I say their utter dislike for him seems to be blurring our view of the facts surrounding this extremely significant geopolitical event. 

The “U.S.–DPRK (North Korea) Summit” is the first in history—Is indeed (in the words of the joint statement) an epochal event of great significance in overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for the opening up of a new future.

It’s already being insinuated that Trump has been presenting it as a “Nobel Peace Prize” possibility for himself and that he has in reality “given away too much”. The truth as always lies in the middle, and getting to that truth is important so that we can appreciate where this long-festering geopolitical hazard is leading to; not only with the financial markets in mind but also in the interest of global peace and also our general wellbeing as a country and people.

In my view, the best way to do that was to examine the source of information underlying the divergent media coverage, biased for their dislike for Trump. Here below are the links to the two critical parts of this story:

  • Joint Statement of President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the Singapore Summit. Click here to see it

  • President Trump News Conference on U.S.-North Korea Summit President Trump spoke to the media and answered journalists’ questions at his closing press conference for the U.S.-North Korea summit held in Singapore. Click here to see it

The Joint Statement somewhat reads as below:

  • President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un conducted a comprehensive, in-depth, and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new U.S.–DPRK relations to build a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
  • President Trump committed to providing security guarantees to the DPRK.
  • Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed (as per April 27, 2018, Panmunjom Declaration) his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of “the Korean Peninsula”
  • Recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the “Korean Peninsula” (not only North Korea).
  • Commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously.
  • Commit to holding follow-on negotiations, led by the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the U.S.–DPRK summit.
  • Commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
  • Commit to cooperate for the development of new U.S.–DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.

Reading it closely will show that, the “Joint Statement” is more a ” Statement of intentions” wherein their commitment has been articulated leading to the eventual goal which is clearly defined.

More importantly, with the POTUS by attending the meeting and making a formal joint statement has legitimatised Kim as a leader and final authority to negotiate and commit on behalf of the North Korean Government.

This “Joint statement” has laid out the rules for the negotiations to follow in the coming weeks and months to be led by the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official.

Obviously, the fat lady has yet to sing!

There is no agreement as yet – because of the details about the steps to denuclearization, the timelines, definitions, or verification mechanisms for “complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament (CVID)” which has for so long been asserted by US Defence officials to be the minimum threshold for a deal.

It is only in light of the above can we appreciate why Trump sounded quite (by his own standards) cautious at the press conference following the Summit. He was actually reading out of notes if not a script!

” Can you ensure anything? All I can say is they want to make the deal.” ….“Based on history, you never know but I trust …..” he said.

Trump through his rhetoric before this Summit and such remarks at the press conference is very clearly trying to restrain expectations!

However, that Trump is eager to dismantle the post-Cold War infrastructure was more than clear in the following remarks he made at this conference.

The denuclearization of North Korea is an important factor in the larger game plan where the US seeks to cut its defence costs and reverse trade deficits, many of which were built up as a result of the need to build that Cold War infrastructure across the world.

  • The United States will cease joint military exercises with long-time ally South Korea; they will save a lot of money. He talked about getting their soldiers home. No one knows if this has been discussed with South Korea.
  • China is to be thanked for tightening up sanctions on the border, but regarding its laxness in the last few months: “That’s okay.” I am not sure what would be the impact of this casual off the cuff remark on the U.N. and U.S. sanctions regime. Of course, Trump may well claim that it’s not supposed to actually mean that way!
  • When asked about the NATO countries being worried about ” long-term enemies turning friends and otherwise”, he said the US can no longer pick up 60-70% of NATO costs and get killed on the trade deficit.
  • He also mentioned South Korea and Japan will bear the cost associated with denuclearisation as the US cannot be expected to bear the costs when it is they who will benefit.

“Those who don’t like Donald Trump,” he said ” will say he gave away too much”. Maybe rightly so.

Well, I guess China did to some extent gain by getting South Korea denuclearised along with its northern ally. Trump did also concede that the details will be worked out through South Korea, Japan and ” to a lesser extent China”. So China has been given a seat on the table and in a way pulled the US a little away from its two historical allies.

It seems Seoul was not too pleased with some of Trump’s talk and has said will seek “clarification”- that’s where that question about ” long-term enemies turning friends and otherwise” came up.

However, I would be hard-pressed to believe that, the US could have wished China away and to that extent, Bejieng could have gotten away with some political gain without too much of a cost – although, Trump did indicate that the trade negotiations will be pursued vigorously indicating he will make China pay there.

Did North Korea get away with anything substantial? Well, I am not too sure because the sanctions are still in place and diplomatic relations have yet to be established. “A little bit too early for that,” said Trump.

In summary, what President Trump seems to have achieved as of now, is a substantial reduction in the temperatures that prevailed in the Korean peninsula over the last one year as result of all that sabre rattling rhetoric. For once an American seems to be on the receiving end of the classic “trust me” because its all been about commitment and reaffirmation.

But did Trump give away too much, I don’t think so – he has held on to the sanctions even when he claims North Korea has blown up their testing facility. I also do not believe that, meeting Kim was really a favour because how else could the US have commenced negotiations? and with whom?

Therefore, the Summit at best is a “firm beginning” and Trump has been able to get North Korea to ‘commit’ to denuclearize, without agreeing to give away money or even pulling off the sanctions – he deserves to be given some credit for having got it so far – however, much we may dislike him!

Secretary Pompeo and his negotiating team seem to have their job cut out because the proof of an agreement is as always in its execution. Let hope for everyone’s sake they succeed.

 


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