FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

It’s North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, Not Trump, Who Forced the US to the Negotiating Table

Photo by edwardhblake | CC BY 2.0

I’m no fan of police states or of dictators, whether in Russia, China, North Korea or under development here in the United States, but let’s at least be honest about what’s behind the news that President Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the man he has been calling “fat” and “Rocket Man.”

The corporate media in the US has been lavishing at times grudging praise on Trump, claiming that it was his “harsh sanctions” and threatening military moves around the Korean Peninsula, and leaked White House talk of “bloody nose” incursions into North Korea, or threats to destroy that country that forced Kim to agree to talks.

The reality is quite the opposite, though. While we may be loath to admit it, that truth is that it has been Kim’s dogged persistence, in the face of US sanctions, boycotts and threats, in testing and developing both a credible nuclear arsenal of atomic and thermonuclear weapons, and in demonstrating that he has missiles that can reach US targets, probably including the lower 48 states.

With as many as 60 such deliverable weapons, according to some estimates, Kim’s North Korea has reached a point where the only way the US could hope to undo his accomplishment would be an all-out war against the North and is one-million-man army, its dug-in artillery, and even then the chances of doing this without North Korea launching at least some of its nukes would be slim.

Credit should go also to South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, who has defied the US by reaching out to Kim, first by inviting North Korea to participate in the Winter Olympics just completed successfully in South Korea, including the fielding of a joint North and South Korean women’s hockey team, and then offering to meet directly in the North with Kim, after which Moon delivered Kim’s invitation to meet with President Trump.

The US had opposed the Olympics invitation, and has been pressuring Moon not to meet with Kim, trying to queer the deal by upping the sanctions against the North, but failed. All along, amid calls in South Korea and by both China and Russia, for the US to negotiate with Kim, the Trump administration, like those before it, has been demanding that North Korea first get rid of its nuclear weapons before any negotiations — a demand that it knew meant no negotiations.

Now, suddenly, faced with a real offer of head-of-state face-to-face negotiations, and a reported offer by Kim to get rid of the country’s nuclear weapons if the US gives a guarantee not to attempt to overthrow the North Korean government, the US has been forced to accept.

That’s the real story here.

Ever since the Korean War fighting ended in an armed truce in place on July 27, 1953, the US has refused negotiations for a real peace treaty, leaving that brutal war technically still on for an astonishing 65 years. During that time, the US has maintained what amounts to an occupation of South Korea, initially propping up a series of brutal dictators, and then simply exercising military authority over South Korea’s own military forces, courtesy of a 1950 UN Security Council Resolution making the US the supreme commander of UN forces dispatched to combat the North’s military.

It’s been a great deal for the US, which has been able to maintain a strong military presence of some 30-50,000 troops, naval bases and air bases, and now a THAAD anti-missile array in South Korea, under its own command, on the Korean Peninsula quite near both China and Russia, and to help justify continued massive military budgets even as China was joining the world economic community and Russia was abandoning the Cold War.

But with North Korea now demonstrably a nuclear power, at least on a par with Pakistan and India, and approaching perhaps even Israel, at least in the number of its nuclear weapons, the US is being forced to abandon war as an option for denuclearizing that country.

With the US invasions of Libya and Iraq, the reality has been impressed on nations of the world that are on America’s “sh*t list” that “if you don’t have nuclear weapons, you’re toast.” North Korea’s leaders, including Kim’s father, took that lesson to heart and worked assiduously to develop nuclear weapons while they could.

Now while some in the Trump administration are listening to pressure from Israel’s corrupt leader Benjamin Netanyahu calling for an attack on Iran, which reached an agreement with the prior Obama administration to halt its uranium enrichment program in return for a lifting of US sanctions (which never happened), talk of invading North Korea is fading away. What’s the difference: Iran, a nation of over 80 million people, is at risk of attack by the US, Israel, and perhaps Saudi Arabia, while North Korea, a nation less than a third that size and far more impoverished and underdeveloped, is not. The difference: North Korea has nukes and Iran does not.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration, by criticizing and appearing increasingly ready to renounce the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran, has poisoned the well of negotiation on nuclear weapons going forward with countries like Russia and North Korea. If Trump meets with Kim, our supposedly “art of the deal” reality-star president will have to make some pretty iron-clad commitments not to later renege and invade before Kim can be expected to agree to dismantle his now formidable nuclear arsenal insurance policy.

Perhaps the US will have to agree to remove its occupying forces and forward bases from South Korea and to cease its regular hostile “joint-training” exercises of North Korea with South Korean and Japanese militaries. Certainly it would have to agree to ending the state of war with the North, and to a revocation of the original UN Security Council Resolution 84 passed in 1950 that authorized a UN force, commanded by the US, to resist the North’s invasion of the South. Such an agreement would free South Korea from its position of a “protectorate” of the US, and perhaps open the way to a gradual re-unification of the two countries into one.

It’s hard to predict where all this will go, but with Kim’s invitation to Trump for negotiations to end the two countries’ multi-generational state of war, and Trump’s apparent acceptance of the offer, it’s important to be clear about what is happening and why, and not to simply assume that hard-line tactics by the White House and its current occupant are what is driving things.

The lesson that is being learned by countries around the world that have been resisting US dictates is clear: If you have nuclear weapons, you get treated differently than if you don’t.

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
August 21, 2019
Craig Collins
Endangered Species Act: A Failure Worth Fighting For?
Colin Todhunter
Offering Choice But Delivering Tyranny: the Corporate Capture of Agriculture
Michael Welton
That Couldn’t Be True: Restorying and Reconciliation
John Feffer
‘Slowbalization’: Is the Slowing Global Economy a Boon or Bane?
Johnny Hazard
In Protest Against Police Raping Spree, Women Burn Their Station in Mexico City.
Tom Engelhardt
2084: Orwell Revisited in the Age of Trump
Binoy Kampmark
Condescension and Climate Change: Australia and the Failure of the Pacific Islands Forum
Kenn Orphan – Phil Rockstroh
The Dead Letter Office of Capitalist Imperium: a Poverty of Mundus Imaginalis 
George Wuerthner
The Forest Service Puts Ranchers Ahead of Grizzlies (and the Public Interest)
Stephen Martin
Geopolitics of Arse and Elbow, with Apologies to Schopenhauer.
Gary Lindorff
The Smiling Turtle
August 20, 2019
James Bovard
America’s Forgotten Bullshit Bombing of Serbia
Peter Bolton
Biden’s Complicity in Obama’s Toxic Legacy
James Phillips
Calm and Conflict: a Dispatch From Nicaragua
Karl Grossman
Einstein’s Atomic Regrets
Colter Louwerse
Kushner’s Threat to Palestine: An Interview with Norman Finkelstein
Nyla Ali Khan
Jammu and Kashmir: the Legitimacy of Article 370
Dean Baker
The Mythology of the Stock Market
Daniel Warner
Is Hong Kong Important? For Whom?
Frederick B. Mills
Monroeism is the Other Side of Jim Crow, the Side Facing South
Binoy Kampmark
God, Guns and Video Games
John Kendall Hawkins
Toni Morrison: Beloved or Belovéd?
Martin Billheimer
A Clerk’s Guide to the Unspectacular, 1914
Elliot Sperber
On the 10-Year Treasury Bonds 
August 19, 2019
John Davis
The Isle of White: a Tale of the Have-Lots Versus the Have-Nots
John O'Kane
Supreme Nihilism: the El Paso Shooter’s Manifesto
Robert Fisk
If Chinese Tanks Take Hong Kong, Who’ll be Surprised?
Ipek S. Burnett
White Terror: Toni Morrison on the Construct of Racism
Arshad Khan
India’s Mangled Economy
Howard Lisnoff
The Proud Boys Take Over the Streets of Portland, Oregon
Steven Krichbaum
Put an End to the Endless War Inflicted Upon Our National Forests
Cal Winslow
A Brief History of Harlan County, USA
Jim Goodman
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is Just Part of a Loathsome Administration
Brian Horejsi
Bears’ Lives Undervalued
Thomas Knapp
Lung Disease Outbreak: First Casualties of the War on Vaping?
Susie Day
Dear Guys Who Got Arrested for Throwing Water on NYPD Cops
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail