Why talks with North Korea won’t succeed

While everyone seems to be heartened by the sudden announcement that Donald Trump will meet Kim Jong-un to negotiate for the DPRK’s suspension of either nuclear testing or building weapons, I am not optimistic. (I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt it.) There are three reasons.

1.) Trump will be meeting with Kim Jon-un, and Trump is an idiot—far less savvy than the North Korean leader. The U.S., as before, will be played.

2.) Kim Jong-un, and his predecessors, have no intention of abandoning their nuclear program, which is their one assurance against attack by the West.

3.) In the last decade and a half, North Korea has agreed to freeze its nuclear program and/or halt missile tests three times. It’s violated all three agreements. Why should we trust them now, especially in view of the spate of missile tests and bigger weapons?

Yes, I know it’s better to seem optimistic than pessimistic, for if talks don’t work, the alternatives are either that the status quo will continue (my own view) or unthinkable war will happen.  But my prediction is that, five years from now, North Korea will have missiles capable of hitting everywhere in the U.S., they won’t use them, and we’ll just have another nuclear power on the planet.


  1. Simon Hayward
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    There was someone talking on NPR this morning (over the crunching of my cereal) saying that this was the meeting that North Korea had been looking for many years and that the US had refused to give them, so they were wondering why this administration was giving something important away so easily. That’s certainly not the spin I’ve seen in most places and I have no idea if it’s accurate.

    Trump is not high on my list of people that I would send to negotiate with someone in a position of strength. He might bully or cheat the powerless out of what they have, but he seems no match for a savvy opponent.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      From Twitter:

      Jeffrey Lewis

      North Korea has been seeking a summit with an American president for more than twenty years. It has literally been a top foreign policy goal of Pyongyang since Kim Jong Il invited Bill Clinton. (1/3)

      Jeffrey Lewis

      I wonder if Trump’s “aides” have explained that to him. Or, if in their toddler-handling, they have led him to believe that this offer is something unusual. Or perhaps he imagines that only he can go Pyongyang. (2/3)

      Jeffrey Lewis
      This is literally how the North Korean film “The Country I Saw” ends. An American President visits Pyongyang, compelled by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs to treat a Kim as an equal. (3/3)

      From Trump:
      “Make America Grate Again!”

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 10, 2018 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        I think reason 2.

        Why is Trump doing it when previous presidents wouldn’t? Precisely because they wouldn’t. Trump Can Do It. Trump is the Deal Maker! Trump Is The Greatest!

        And for the same reason it is imperative that something that can be called a ‘deal’ by Trump or his PR flacks is reached.

        Always provided Trump doesn’t manage to insult Kim Jong Il so intolerably that immediate war breaks out…


  2. Michael Scullin
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    I share your view. Who will (or can) control Trump from saying or committing us to something incredibly stupid? He has demonstrated than he is incapable of even the dimmest rationality and plays only to his imagined television audience. Only Kim Jong-un can come out of this looking good (or at least better).

  3. Harrison
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Trumpkins think it must have been Trump’s strong bluster that scared the Kim regime so much they’re now asking to talk it out.

    What a world they must live in.

    • Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      What do you think did it if it wasn’t that? And why does it have to be Trumpkins? You have to be a “Trumpkin” to believe that a show of force against a bully is effective? What a world you must live in.

      • Posted March 9, 2018 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        Who is it that you are casting as the bully?

        • Posted March 12, 2018 at 9:20 am | Permalink

          You don’t think a regime that’s starved, imprisoned and executed it’s people for 60+ years is a bully regime? A regime that’s been rattling it’s saber and antagonizing and threatening its neighbors for 60+ years isn’t a bully regime?

          • Posted March 12, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

            That makes more sense. I thought you were talking in international diplomacy terms.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted March 9, 2018 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

        One of the biggest bullies on the international scene today. Are you impressed by the way Trump stands up to him?

        • Posted March 12, 2018 at 7:28 am | Permalink

          As a matter of fact, yes I am.

      • Harrison
        Posted March 10, 2018 at 12:14 am | Permalink

        That’s not what “show of force” means.

  4. yazikus
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Has Trump had one single successful meeting with any head of state at this point?

    • Posted March 9, 2018 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Not if you don’t count meetings in 2016 to coordinate his election campaign.

      • yazikus
        Posted March 9, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        Well played, mikeyc. Well played.

      • Posted March 9, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        Those sex workers were representatives of local NGOs and cooperative goods procurement services, not the Russian government.

    • David
      Posted March 9, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Benjamin Netanyahu meeting was successful.

      • Craw
        Posted March 9, 2018 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        The meeting with Trudeau was. The NATO meeting was. There have been numerous ones with leaders that were, where the other leader said they were.

        You will never beat Trump by insisting on a version of Trump the rest of us can see is wrong. He is not an idiot or a drooling bumbler. He is a much more formidable opponent than you realize.

        • GBJames
          Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

          Well, I haven’t seen him drool. Otherwise, I think you’re just wrong.

  5. Mark R.
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Kim is messing with Trump’s feeble mind and manipulating him. If anything, the meeting (if it takes place) gives NK legitimacy, and will give Kim the feeling he is getting the world respect he deserves (and yearns for). The art of the deal my ass.

    • nicky
      Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      Well, if the DPRK’s dictator is getting the respect he craves, I think he’s less likely to use the nukes. It is not like Germany and Chamberlain and the ‘Sudeten’ territory (peace for our time). It is obvious the DPRK is in no position to grab territory. They tried that once in the fifties and it did not end really well.
      I think these talks are good (unless Mr Trump f**ks it up), Mr Kim knows Mr Trump is an idiot, so he might be forgiving if some inanities are kept somewhat under the covers.

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Do not know how you can doubt Don Juan the Porno Man. Never, has it been a good idea for the U.S. Pres. to talk directly with the N.K. leader. In other words, let the experts do the negotiating. Later, if you get close to a real agreement and it passes all the tests you can give it – then the two can have a photo op. And let’s face it, a photo op is all you ever want Trump to do.

    It is simply insane to have even a competent president sit down and negotiate nuclear weapons. We have never done that with Russia or anyone. You would not want this guy to negotiate the price of a newspaper. Just watch how this tariff on steel and aluminum works out. At least you can’t blow anyone up with steel and aluminum tariffs. And Trump says it is an easy war to win.

    • Craw
      Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      Huh? Reagan met with Russian leaders over just exactly nuclear disarmament.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        Sure, Reagan and Gorby sat down and hammered the whole thing out. It simply does not work that way. And if there was anything left to work when the two leaders meet they would have a team of all the proper experts there to handle it. You think the president of this country knows any of the specifics of the nuclear program to just wing it with another foreign power? They are the photo op and little more.

        • Posted March 9, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

          In late 1974 US president Gerald Ford and Leonid Breshnev met in a series of meetings in Vladivostok to discuss limiting nuclear weapons, talks which resulted in SALT II treaty (which ultimately was never ratified by the US Senate because of the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979).

          It simply isn’t true that U.S. presidents haven’t met with their Soviet (or Russian) counterparts to negotiate nuclear weapons and policy.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted March 9, 2018 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

            The word for you and others here in discussing this subject would be – Naive.

            You can easily read about the SALT II agreement on line and learn or not. This agreement, signed in 1979 covered talks from 1972 to 1979 on Strategic Arms Limitations. This was lead by many representative of the two nations and eventually lead to reductions of forces to 2250 of all categories of delivery vehicles on both sides. Mirved missels, long range limits, cruise and ss type 18s. If you think this was worked out by a couple of politicians then I cannot help you. Do you think the staff of experts, just the ones shown in the picture on the salt II signing were just there for the photo.

            • Posted March 9, 2018 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

              Good grief. So your argument all along has been that presidents don’t negotiate treaties all by themselves???

              Of course they don’t. Many people are involved at all stages. It is very unlikely that any president has the expertise to single handedly negotiate a treaty on anything whatsoever. Nevertheless, negotiating treaties on behalf of the United States is one of the jobs of the presidency spelled out in the Constitution.

              Your original claim;

              “It is simply insane to have even a competent president sit down and negotiate nuclear weapons. We have never done that with Russia or anyone.”

              is flatly untrue. We have had presidents negotiate weapons treaties as that is one of their Constitutionally mandated jobs.

              Had you said;

              “It is simply insane to have even a competent president sit down and negotiate nuclear weapons all by his or herself….”
              you wouldn’t have gotten the push back you did.

              • Randall Schenck
                Posted March 9, 2018 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

                If you actually took the time and go back and read my response to CRAW you would have seen what I said. But you are one who likes to jump in, play some kind of tag on these threads and make lots of comments. You need to get away from that anal thinking where you just concentrate on one word or sentence and fail to read the whole thing.

                Long ago I use to work on airplanes that occasionally had nukes on them. Now I knew they had nuclear weapons on them, you could know this by just looking. But did I know all the details about that specific bomb? No I did not. It was not my area and I will bet, even the weapons guys who hung the bomb on the plane could not tell you much of anything about it. It was not his job or his need to know. There are experts who know all that stuff about those various bombs, the yield, how powerful, how they are delivered and all kinds of stuff. But it is not the President. He likely knows less about them than I do.

              • mikeyc
                Posted March 10, 2018 at 12:13 am | Permalink

                Hey Randall, man, I’m sorry. Really. I didn’t mean to provoke; a little niggle is all. Maybe I didn’t do a good job of filtering, you know? You’re right about one thing – I do need to get away from commenting.

  7. David Coxill
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Well over on The Independent comments page the snatch snatchers supporters are only one step away from nominating him for a Nobel peace prize .

    Same old crap ,liberal snowflakes not giving 45TH credit when he does something great.

    • Posted March 9, 2018 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Suppose the Orange One does manage to come away with a peace deal with NK, and the two nations start to warm relations. Suppose we sign an armistice declaring an official end to the Korean war, and so on. The threat of nuclear or even conventional war in the Korean peninsula diminishes. Suppose all that happens…
      Then he (and Kim Jon-un) would be real candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize. Stranger things have happened. Look at who we elected.

      • GBJames
        Posted March 9, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        Trump will give away the store for a deal with NK. It is in Russia’s interest that he do so. Vladimir wants to build a gas pipeline to NK and what Vlad wants, tRump delivers.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

          You might want to give Article II, Section 2 of the constitution a look.

          • GBJames
            Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

            Why? Because Congress is going to make it all OK?

            • Randall Schenck
              Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

              So you think Trump can just make any treaty he wants with N.K. on the Nuclear issue. And 2/3rds of the Senate will just say sure, go ahead, do whatever you want? Last I checked they don’t have 67 republicans in the Senate.

              Congress is going to make it okay? What does that mean, if anything.

              • GBJames
                Posted March 9, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

                The Republican Congress shows precisely zero ability to prevent tRump from doing as he pleases. And, as long as we’re in conversation, who said a treaty would be involved? It doesn’t take a treaty to remove sanctions. It doesn’t take a treaty to alter foreign policy.

                I honestly think you should remove those rose glasses you’ve put on.

              • Randall Schenck
                Posted March 9, 2018 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

                You have no idea what you are talking about and would do well to find some other subject. You are wasting everyone’s time.

              • GBJames
                Posted March 9, 2018 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

                Well there’s a well reasoned argument for you.

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted March 9, 2018 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        And suppose NK suggest that with an armistice in place, there is really no need for the US to keep any troops or aircraft in the South. And suppose they think that this gives them the opportunity to achieve their long-term objective of reuniting the peninsula on their own terms. With China’s support. What does Trumpkin do then?

        • Tim Harris
          Posted March 10, 2018 at 4:59 am | Permalink

          He’ll sit in a (Trump) barn
          And keep himself warm,
          And hide his head under his wing, poor thing.

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted March 9, 2018 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        And suppose NK suggest that with an armistice in place, there is really no need for the US to keep any troops or aircraft in the South. And suppose they think that this gives them the opportunity to achieve their long-term objective of reuniting the peninsula on their own terms. With China’s support. What does Trumpkin do then?

        • Steve Pollard
          Posted March 9, 2018 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

          Whoops, don’t know why that happened. I only pressed Send once, honest.

        • Posted March 9, 2018 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

          Details… details….
          We would just say no. But I know of no reason why the forward deployment can’t be drawn down a little bit on both sides. Trust but verify. They can be put back if tensions return.

      • David Coxill
        Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        Them’s a lot of supposes ,don’t think it will happen ,the snatch snatcher has got the attention span of a distracted goldfish .

        • Posted March 9, 2018 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

          I will type something totally insane below. It defies all logic. In a logical world it should not happen.

          President Trump.

          Given that, at least some bets are off the table.

  8. Joseph McClain
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    “The Bad Hair Summit” can be sure to generate a lot of punny headlines.

  9. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    There is really nothing to freeze for N.K. They already have the bomb. They now have the break through in rocket engine technology courtesy of the Russians. So they have the missiles and they have the bomb. What is there to talk about except to tell them – launch one nuke on anyone and we will be sending about 50 of them down on you. Have a nice day.

  10. GBJames
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    tRump loves him some autocrats. He and ‘lil Kim are going to get along great. No good will come of it.

    • Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      That’s the spirit man. Rooting for your own president to fail.
      Good god in heaven.

      • GBJames
        Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        You confuse prediction and advocacy. As it happens they are very different things.

        • Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

          Oh ok. You’ll just keep the public nay-saying and the negativity flowing full tilt but in secret, you hope he succeeds. Gotcha.

          • darrelle
            Posted March 9, 2018 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

            I hope GBJames does keep it up. Nay-saying Trump and his administration is not merely a right, it is a duty. It is true patriotism. What you are suggesting is abdication of a persons duty as a member of a society. Not only that, it’s also pathetic.

            • Ashley
              Posted March 10, 2018 at 6:49 am | Permalink

              Suggesting that publicly disparaging the president at all times, no matter what he does is proabably not a good idea is considered pathetic? If you say so.
              There’s plenty to disparage him about. The dismantling of the EPA, the Johnson Ammendment, etc.
              This is not one of those things.

              • Tim Harris
                Posted March 10, 2018 at 7:59 am | Permalink

                Can you explain why it is not? Or are you just making empty assertions?

              • Ashley
                Posted March 10, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

                TIm, I don’t know what to say really. I mean, has the last 60 years not convinced you that the status quo clearly isn’t working? Have you got any other ideas that don’t involve Trump and Kim talking? If you do, I’m all ears.

    • Filippo
      Posted March 9, 2018 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      Right. It is in the nature of a private corporate tyrant/tyranny to view other autocrats as kindred spirits. Trump chafes at and is frustrated by constraints on his presidential powers that that he would not have to put up with as a corporate tyrant. He just can’t help it; it is in his autocratic nature.

      We tolerate from private corporate tyrannies what we would not tolerate from government.

  11. Posted March 9, 2018 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I agree with everything you say here but for one thing. If Trump fails in some way, he may launch his “punch in the nose attack”. He might prefer to indirectly cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands rather than look weak.

  12. busterggi
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I grant you’re right but Trump confused the president of South Korea with Kim earlier this week so…

    I mean, the idiot can’t even keep track of which Korea is which.

  13. Kate
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    There’s something fishy about this change of heart from the NKs. Let’s not forget that they have deep ties with China and Russia so it’s not too far fetched to suspect that there is something else going on here. They all know that this administration is weak and stupid and they will definitely take advantage of that.

    • GBJames
      Posted March 9, 2018 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      I think it is pretty straight-forward. NK is isolated and has trouble getting fuel. They want Russia to build a pipeline to remedy that problem. Russia wants to build it but not in violation of the sanctions. So Vladimir Putin has instructed his boy Donald to make nice with Kim. Trump listens to nobody more than Putin. tRump will do as he’s told.

      Am I too cynical?

      • nicky
        Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        No, I do not think you are too cynical.

  14. Posted March 9, 2018 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I think Trump sees this as his chance to be the statesman he so clearly isn’t, which means I am quite sure he will fail by everyone’s standards but his own.

  15. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    The Donald & Lil’ Kimbo have already reached a trade agreement:

    You ask me, it’s an improvement for both of ’em.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted March 9, 2018 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      Love it!

    • nicky
      Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      An improvement indeed!

    • W.T. Effingham
      Posted March 9, 2018 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      In the immortal words of Un’s great predecessor, Il, “Nobody takes me serousreee!” .

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 10, 2018 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      Brilliant! Who would’ve thought it? They both look almost presentable (though Kim looks a lot more good-natured).


  16. Paul
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    I think there can be an advantage to be unpredictable in strategy.

    Obama was, in my opinion, very measured and calculating. This may allow other governments to predict his behaviour. They might have calculated that he wouldn’t risk intervening if a country had territory ‘annexed’, for example.

    However, someone more emotional and less calculating can be unpredictable, so others may be reluctant to take risks with them.

    I’m not saying its a master-strategy but it might help Trump in some ways…

  17. Heather Hastie
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t had time to read the other comments yet unfortunately – I’ll do it later.

    I agree with Jerry’s conclusion.

    I’m hoping to write about this later today myself.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted March 9, 2018 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      I think you should cover the ridiculous way this announcement came out. A diplomat from South Korea goes out into the drive way area at the white house yesterday and makes this thing public. Why not just have Russia announce it from the Kremlin? That is the way we learn of most visits these days in America.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted March 9, 2018 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, that’s in there!

  18. Jenny Haniver
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Yesterday,I heard someone on the radio (perhaps on the NPR segment referenced above) speak about how the North Koreans are very careful to plan ahead, and this seeming volte face on Kim Jong Un’s part was not a spur of the moment decision or a result of intimidation on Trump’s part, or a sober realization that they must negotiate, or the warm fuzzies; but had to be quite calculated; and to overlook that is the first mistake. And I’d add that the decision must have been calculated down to the timing. As has been noted, Kim Jong Un will play Trump like a fiddle, and Trump’s hubristic stupidity leads him to think that he’s playing Kim, and that his threats and bluster are what brought Kim to the table — the line Pence has taken, natch.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted March 9, 2018 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      I’m thinking now that the meeting will probably not take place, especially since it’s scheduled for May; the White House is already putting up moveable barriers. Now Trump has made a grandiose promise and leaves it to his minions to finesse the situation so that he can renege on his promise yet still come out as a hero — this is a tactic he’s used time and time again.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted March 9, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        I am with you on that. This little meeting is over before it happens. The only real thing that is happening here is that Trump is putting up more chaos to bury the other stories, such as, his porn star payment, his guy Manafort getting ready to go to trial in July and Mueller is closing in.

        • darrelle
          Posted March 9, 2018 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

          I wish the wheels of justice would hurry up already.

          • Jenny Haniver
            Posted March 9, 2018 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

            I’d love to get rid of all those bottom-feeders in one fell swoop, including the biggest bottom=feeder of all, the giant yellow-headed grouper. But Mueller is on the case I think he’s moving apace but he’s not going to leave a stone unturned and unexamined. And look at the myriad and tangled threads, not to mention trying to distinguish fact from fiction.

            • Jenny Haniver
              Posted March 9, 2018 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

              I meant the giant yellow-bellied grouper, with the yellow head.

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted March 9, 2018 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

          I found your comment below after I’d posted mine. It seems that we came to the same conclusion about the same time, and I’m sure we’re not alone. All I’ve been hearing from the WH in the past few hours is equivocation and setting up the barriers — ex post facto. And I’m in complete agreement about chaos being created to bury other stories and keep everyone off-balance. At the moment I’m reading a long but fascinating profile on Manafort in the Atlantic, aptly titled “Paul Manafort, American Hustler” https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/03/paul-manafort-american-hustler/550925/.

  19. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    If Jong-un takes a cue from other countries and butters Trump up by complimenting him on his big hands and fabulous hotels, then Israel better roll up its east Asian spies and bring ’em home, ’cause Trump will probably start blabbing again, way he did to the Russians at his secret “two-Sergeys” Oval Office meeting the day after he canned Comey.

    If not, Trump’ll probably whip out his big button and bomb KJ-u’s little shithole country into even worse oblivion.

    So, yeah, not bristling with optimism on this one.

  20. Craw
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Trump is many things but he is not an idiot.

    • nicky
      Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Well, I think that is arguable.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      He is undoubtedly many things. But he is grotesquely ill-suited — by experience, by education and training, and by temperament — to be president of the United States, much less “leader of the free world.”

      • Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

        And therein lies the peril here. Craw is right; Trump is no idiot. But you are right too; he is manifestly unsuited for this job. If anything good comes out of the meeting with the North Koreans it will be by accident.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted March 9, 2018 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

          I’ll bet you all are wrong and this so-called meeting between these two will not even happen. It is stupid and makes no sense but then what else is new in Trump world.

          • Posted March 9, 2018 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

            You’re probably right – the meeting likely will not be held. The White House is already putting conditions on the meeting, conditions which the NK is not likely to agree to.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted March 9, 2018 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

          I would never claim Trump is completely lacking in ability. He has a low cunning, especially when it comes to separating marks from their money and bending weaker men to his will. In addition, he has an animal instinct for sussing out where the clout and leverage lie in any power structure.

          As well, he has communication skills, vulgar though they may be. He knows how to command attention, how to dominate a conversation by never leaving any dead air for another to speak, and how to sense the mood of an audience, the better to feed red meat to his base.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted March 9, 2018 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

            Yes, but now he is somehow, the president. And he is so out of his natural element it is sickening. His administration is a wreck and what is left is such a low grade there is no telling how low it will go. Let’s try a tariff here, a nuclear talk there, maybe next week we will shoot the moon. This looks like a stupid heavy weight fight with no one left who remembers how. After one year the republicans are out of ideas and we are wondering if they ever had one. Trump has run out of people to screw and will soon have to return to porn stars.

    • Posted March 9, 2018 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      Well I think the evidence so far contradicts you.

    • Posted March 9, 2018 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

      I think he is an idiot, but that’s not the essential or most troubling aspect of his presidency. It’s that his agenda is entirely personal, i.e. corrupt, but everyone has to pretend he is acting out the role of president and his actions are analyzed as if he is.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted March 10, 2018 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      The craw makes wing to the rookie wood again.

  21. Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    The reporting on this tends to say it’s a gamble by Trump, but it is no such thing. Trump has no stakes in this and nothing to lose — he’s gambling with other people’s chips.

    Both leaders fear being deposed, and both have nukes, and both could easily wind up holding the entire world hostage. With Mueller possibly closing in on Trump, what could be better for Trump than the chance to collude with NK to organize a “nuclear crisis” that will only go away if both leaders are left alone?

  22. Voltaire
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    If NK gets:

    A treaty similar to Cuba’s (no interference in internal matters)
    Territorial Guarantees (no military exercises, no International threats)
    A big aid package
    Lifting sanctions.
    A treaty of no aggression from Japan, China and USA.

    Then they would have a very good deal. Those type of deals you cannot say no and will stop their nuclear development.

    In this case, NK will solve many of its problems and among them their principal one: the political stability of the regime. The Kim family don’t need nukes for controlling their population. And they can cheat if the opportunity arises.

    It’s possible? IDK

  23. Posted March 9, 2018 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Point #1) Don’t buy that for a second. He’s a con man and an arrogant SOB and a bully himself. He’s arguing from the position of power. If he was so “stupid”, he wouldn’t have figured out how to become the most powerful man in the world.
    Point #2) Maybe. Depends on the incentives. Or the threats. He’s made it this far.
    Point #3) Trump is not like other spineless PC politicians. He’s a Churchill, not a Chamberlain. He’s unpredictable and volatile. He might be able to scare them straight. Think of it like the Pakistan situation. They used to be able to take money from the US and pretty much do whatever the hell they wanted, including housing the architect of 9/11 (No one of importance in Pakistan knew though – wink wink. Which is why Obama never told anyone about the operation to take out Bin Laden). Not putting up with that crap anymore. Funds cut off.
    Time will tell, but I am infinitely more optimistic about the N Korea situation now than I have been in the last 10 years.

    • darrelle
      Posted March 9, 2018 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Ever heard that saying “the shit floats to the top?” That’s Trump. You really think Trump “figured out how to become the most powerful man in the world”? So all of the big money behind Trumps candidacy, the pathetic offerings on the rest of the Republican ticket, the big money behind the Republican Party and therefore behind Trump once he became their only hope, the past 30 years of Republican propagandizing and politicizing, the Russian “interference,” and all the rest is insignificant? Or lies? Or that Trump purposely used or orchestrated all of it? Nobody becomes POTUS because they are smart enough to figure it out, let alone Trump. And it beats me how Trump supporters can possibly rationalize all the evidences of Trumps stupidity as being not just not-stupid, but some sort of genius. My guess is that Altemeyer’s got it right.

      I’m guessing you would agree with the old saying that “you need a tough, ruthless, SOB to make the hard decisions”?

      • Ashley
        Posted March 10, 2018 at 3:53 am | Permalink

        Darrelle, you seem to know very little of what went on in your own country. Clinton outspent Trump 2:1 in the presidential campaign. Russian interference? Zero evidence that anything that Russia did or didn’t do influenced the outcome of the election.
        I know it makes you feel better inside to call half of your countrymen stupid bumpkins because your preferred candidate didn’t win the election but it doesn’t make it true.

        • Tim Harris
          Posted March 10, 2018 at 8:01 am | Permalink

          Well, Ashley, I don’t know…

        • Filippo
          Posted March 10, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

          “Clinton outspent Trump 2:1 in the presidential campaign.”

          Just congenially curious – what is your perspective on the U.S. “electoral college,” which resulted in Trump’s election despite, IIRC, Clinton getting 3,000,000 more popular votes than Trump?

          • Posted March 12, 2018 at 7:42 am | Permalink

            I think it worked exactly the way it was supposed to, as it has been for almost 250 years. Trump is the 5th president in history to win the election without winning the popular vote. It was set up that way for a reason by the founding fathers. I don’t know much about it but it is my understanding that it was because they wanted to control the influence of a handful of heavily populated states determining the outcome of the election.
            I thought we were done moaning over the electoral college no?

            • Filippo
              Posted March 12, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

              “I thought we were done moaning over the electoral college no?”

              I congenially acknowledge that that is one of the thoughts you have had.

              If congenially asking you a question constitutes “moaning,” then I plead guilty.

              I apologize for having offended your delicate aesthetic sensibilities. I have adorned myself with sackcloth and ashes, and am smiting my breast with remorse.

              • Posted March 13, 2018 at 7:27 am | Permalink

                I congenially acknowledge that you brought up a question that is nothing more than sour grapes whining. After a year and a half, you still can’t seem to get over it, which is why you had to “congenially” ask the question. The electoral college is so 2016/17 dude. The Hitler/Nazi comparisons have pretty much died down and the Russian collusion thing seems to be losing steam. I think we’re on to the Stormy Daniels “story” as the next topic of hysteria. Try to keep up with the times dude!

              • Posted March 13, 2018 at 10:04 am | Permalink

                All right, Ashley, you are not only dominating this thread (see the Roolz for posting frequency) but, worse, you are being insulting to other commenters (seriously, “keep up with the times, dude” and “sour grapes”?) Either learn to be more polite, argue civilly, or go elsewhere. Capiche?

              • Posted March 13, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

                Out of the 125 comments on this thread (including this one), I’ve personally made 15 comments (including this one). That is apparently “dominating”. There are several other people on here who have commented just as much as I have and have leveled insults at others.
                Now saying “sour grapes” and even worse “keep up with the times” is “insulting”. if you don’t mind my saying so, that’s setting the bar pretty low.
                You and I both know that has got nothing to do with insults and it’s got nothing to do with posting frequency. I’m the one guy who isn’t part of the echo chamber that this thread obviously is and it’s irking you. That much is plain for all to see. The ironic part of all this, is that I’m not even a Trump supporter. I’m not even American! I don’t think he’s as stupid as everyone says he is, but he is obviously a con man and a very good one at that. I’m just a guy who is beyond sick and tired of the mass hysteria that’s surrounded every single solitary thing that Trump’s done and said for the last year and a half as though the end of the world is nigh. That’s exactly why I posted that NYTimes article.
                I’ve already noticed that some of my earlier comments have been deleted. It’s your blog and you can obviously can do whatever you want. The only thing I ask is that you might want to reconsider your position, commitment and approach to free speech advocacy while simultaneously threatening me with banishment for breeching arbitrarily enforced rules and being “insulting”. As if there hasn’t been anything insulting said of other people, including the President in this thread!!!! It’s beyond hypocritical. If you want this to remain a Trump hating echo chamber, by all means, just let me know and I’ll refrain from publishing any more “insulting” comments. All that I ask is that you don’t pretend to be an ardent advocate for free speech since it doesn’t appear that you endorse practicing what you preach, on your own personal blog no less, where you have ultimate control.
                Sound like a deal?

              • Posted March 13, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

                Do not presume that you were called out (you’re not banned, just moderated) because of your political views. In fact, I got a complaint that you were being more uncivil than the usual comments on that site; I read your comments, and decided that you needed to be reminded to be civil. I don’t give a rat’s patootie about your politics, just that I don’t tolerate even the kind of insults you see as “mild.”

                And no, I’ve never deleted any comments from you, so that’s just wrong. Given the fact that you just jumped in here and started accusing me of this and that, and were wrong, I would normally just ban you. But you’re on moderation, which means that all your comments have to be approved by me. That’s hardly broaching your so-called “right” to post here. If your comments are civil, they will be approved. If the snark and rancor directed at other readers continues, you will be banned. So be polite and read the commenting rules.

    • Posted March 9, 2018 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      Infinitely more optimistic? I can’t feel the same way, because I don’t think people truly change overnight. This happened not too long ago:

      Don’t forget that N.K. has been experimenting chemical warfare. Denuclearizing means almost squat, in the face of that.

    • Mark R.
      Posted March 9, 2018 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      He’s a Churchill? Thanks for the laugh!

    • Posted March 9, 2018 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      Actually, Chamberlain is far closer to Trump. the main differences of course being that Chamberlain wasn’t severely and secretly compromised in his dealings with Hitler as Trump is with Putin. Also Chamberlain miscalculated Hitler’s duplicity, rather than being ignorant, fawning and submissive as Trump is with Xi and Putin.

  24. David Jorling
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    In my view, any analysis of this development has to start with the assumption that Trump is Putin’s puppet. He agreed to the meeting because Putin told him to.

  25. Voltaire
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 5:55 pm | Permalink


    Some clarifications:

    A treaty similar to Cuba’s (no interference in internal matters)

    This is a fait accompli. The USA for now cannot do very much for penetrating NK, so it’s not given anything.

    Territorial Guarantees (no military exercises, no International threats)

    It’s not difficult as a “secret annex” or even no secret if there is no cause.

    A big aid package

    Not difficult and USA won’t pay a penny. All will be paid by Japan and South Korea. China will open its borders to commerce with NK. Remember that NK is a buffer for China.and very dangerous for SK ans Japan.

    Lifting sanctions.

    Everybody knows that USA has to give this in exchange for “no nukes” so no problem. The lifting will be gradual and pari passu with the compliance of NK

    A treaty of no aggression from Japan, China USA and SK

    Well, this is the same that a logic “Not Intervention clause” if you have no cause for intervention. It’s not very important.

    I went to your blog, it’s very interesting and I agree with some of your points.
    No justice to Churchill to compare him with DJT. Let me Remember you that Churchill was strongly opposed to Chamberlain over the Munich accord but it was easy because he was in the opposition. Churchill was also strongly opposed to Stalin and rightly so. And what happened when the British Empire was in its knees and he was the boss? he warmly embraced the hated Uncle Joe.

    • Ashley
      Posted March 10, 2018 at 6:41 am | Permalink

      Hey Voltaire,
      It certainly wasn’t my intention to imply that DJT and Churchill are kindred spirits. I have infinitely more respect for Churchill. My intention was to say that DJT is not in the mold of modern day spineless politicians. My point is that I really don’t believe he’s as dumb as everybody thinks he is. I just watched a Ben Shapiro video about this and he’s quite skeptical about the outcome too. I don’t believe that Trump is going to be dumb enough to fall for empty promises and lies, just to make himself look good. All indications to me is that he has a very strong “America first” attitude and shows in what he’s done to day. The trade tariffs being one big, recent example.
      I don’t know what’s going to happen but I don’t see how it can possibly be any worse that what’s been allowed to transpire for the last 60 years. N Korea is intent on inching its way to nuclear armament and 60 years of the same old policy hasn’t affected that one bit. Maybe the only way out of this is war? I don’t know.4

      • Posted March 10, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        I’m so glad you clarified that, Ashley, and went on to say that you don’t know.
        I will say that ‘spineless is as spineless does’, and the orangu man, too often and too readily, hides behind lies.

        • Posted March 10, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

          There’s only so many options right?
          1) Maintain the status quo and watch N Korea eventually figure out how to make a Nuclear bomb
          2) First strike and cut the snakes head off and sacrifice S Korea, Japan and god knows what else in the process.
          3) Talk it out and come to some kind of agreement – might delay or hasten the scenario 1 anyways or require the scenario in 2 regardless.
          If there’s any other scenarios, I’d be glad to hear em.
          I don’t really know what’s going to happen, and neither does anyone else. That being said, given my scenarios, I don’t see what possible harm the talks can do.

          • Posted March 10, 2018 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

            If talks there must be, then let them occur under watchful and vigilant eyes, and with the clear and cautious minds of realists and not of irrational optimists ripe for hoodwinking.

            It is probably inevitable that NK will get the bomb. Sometimes detente is all we can hope for. It is very possible that NK now wants in on the bounty of trade that SK enjoys with the rest of the world, but how much concession (real or feigned) are its dictators willing to make to get to the trough? And will NK let SK remain a free nation? So many unknowable unknowns.

            • Posted March 12, 2018 at 7:48 am | Permalink

              What makes you think they won’t be done under watchful and vigilant eyes?

              • Posted March 12, 2018 at 10:18 am | Permalink

                Have you been following the news about the chaos in the WH? The date announced is too soon. They have been caught on their back foot. The US ambassador to North Korea, Joseph Yun, resigned as he had been left out of the loop for a good while. The administration does not have their ducks in a row. This is also a case of awarding the big prize to undeserving/noncompliant NK, something the Kims have wanted – America acknowledgement of their legitimacy as a civilized nation. Impulsively rushing to meet their leader under these conditions is de facto declaring them as such. If you can access it, try to watch the roundtable of Sunday’s Meet the Press on Youtube. Journalist Andrea Mitchell et al make some good points for extreme caution.

              • Posted March 12, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

                “– America acknowledgement of their legitimacy as a civilized nation.”
                I’m not sure where you’re getting that from but not from any contact with reality. Nobody’s acknowledged anything with the exception that there are going to be talks. That’s it.
                The date is too soon? The administration does not have its ducks in a row? How do you know all this? How do you know when is the right time to meet and how much longer do they need to get their ducks in a row?
                Meet the press? I’m sure there might be some good points here and there but what reason would there be to suspect that it’s not just more of the same hysterical ranting and raving that’s been going on for the better part of a year and a half now?
                I would think that if anything’s been proven in the last year and a half, it’s that political pundits and “experts” don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.

              • Posted March 13, 2018 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

                You certainly seem to have got the GOP taking points down pat and might be using alternate facts in the much the same way Kellyanne Conway does.

                The art of diplomacy is very important and certain overtures have certain symbolic meaning.

                Check out more chaos in the WH, with Trump just firing his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, via a Tweet, for crying out loud! Last night, Tillerson said that Russia was most definitely behind the poison attack in the UK. Tillerson also felt the hardline approach against North Korea was working. Make what you will of it.

                In the end, most of us want peace and security. So we shall see how it plays out. Good luck to us all.

  26. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Andy Borowitz of The New Yorker ran a fake news story suggesting that Kim Jong Un wants Trump to fix him up with Stormy Daniels and his decision to continue nuclear bomb / missile testing hinges on that happening. 🙂

  27. Tim Harris
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    There is a good article in the Guardian by Jasper Becker spelling out how ill-advised a meeting between Trump & Kim would be. Certainly, I think, there should be talks, because talking is going to be better than following Lindsey Graham’s suggestion and starting a war in East Asia which is going to kill millions and also destroy trust in the USA throughout, at least, East Asia. But the talks need to be serious, not a lovely photo-opportunity for Kim (whom Trump once said he admired for knocking off uncles and anyone else who might threaten his position) and Trump; and while the talks go on, as much pressure as possible on NK should be kept up by coordinating with South Korea, China and Japan.

  28. Tim Harris
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, but Andrew Sullivan has some thoughtful remarks on Stephen Pinker’s books:


  29. Posted March 9, 2018 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    On your Point (1), perhaps you’re right that the negotiation might get messed up by the stupidity of Donald Trump. It’s speculative. Hard to say.

    Your Points (2) and (3) are most likely wrong. Analytically, the interests of the two countries are becoming more aligned. Regardless of Trump, the fundamentals for an agreement are good.

    Unlike previous occasions when North Korea reneged on denuclearization deals, they now have ICBMs that can hit the US. That means they can now negotiate on their own terms, and are more likely to stick to the terms of a deal that meets their needs. Remember also that China is a much greater and more permanent threat to Korean national security than ‘the West’.

    With that backdrop. there are at least three things North Korea can get from a credible denuclearization. Over and above a lifting of sanctions, it can demand a cast-iron security guarantee for its independence from the great powers (China, Russia, US). This would work because of great power competition. None of them wants to let one of the others control North Korea. Most importantly, with their security guaranteed, and with the benign support of the US, the North Korean elites can go for a big expansion of economic cooperation with the South, including the opening of a path to Korean unification, on a timeline and terms to be decided by the Koreans themselves. Never underestimate the power of Korean nationalism. Kim Jong Un will give a lot to go down in history as the man who took the decisive actions in Korean reunification, even if it is on a gradual, peaceful 50 year time line.

    From the US perspective, apart from removing the immediate nuclear threat, a unified, strong independent and nationalistic Korea is very much in the long term American national interest, which is to counterbalance a rising China and prevent it from coming to dominate the Eurasian landmass. It’s complicated. I blog about this at greater length here: https://naimisha_forest.silvrback.com/towards-the-korean-century

  30. Diane G.
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 9:48 pm | Permalink


  31. Posted March 10, 2018 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place and commented:
    With a smarter POTUS they might succeed.

  32. Kurt Lewis Helf
    Posted March 10, 2018 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    The announcement there may be a meeting is a transparent attempt at diversion and creating the appearance of gravitas by the admin. Also, I don’t believe N. Korea is an existential threat to the U.S. They’re a paper tiger.

  33. Posted March 12, 2018 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    I am in favour of talks in general, since “meeting someone half way” is often helpful in solving problems. But Trump is such a boor it might backfire, so …

    It is hard to say how NK would react to Trump sending his “best guy” as he’s bound to call him …

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