I have to hand it to David Brin as a soothsayer: Brin predicted what would happen in the ‘negotiations’ between Trump and Kim Jong Un. North Korea would offer a token reduction in some nuclear facilities, which they don’t need anymore, and would ask for a reduction in sanctions and most importantly, a reduction in conventional arms.
For reasons of both economic and personal survival, Kim desperately needs a smaller army.
In contrast, nuclear weapons – once you have them – are cheap to hold, to hide and to maintain.
Kim’s current dilemma has only one solution, then. Keep enough nukes to deter any adventurous notions on our side… and hold onto those artillery tubes threatening Seoul… then entice both South Koreans and Americans to shout hosannahs over a “deal” to slash their own forces below the DMZ. Forces they can easily afford and that pose them zero risk.
Let’s be clear: any conventional draw-down is Kim’s chief aim, his win-win.
So what did this “historic meeting” actually accomplish?
North Korea is shutting down one engine testing site, and they’re going to return some American remains from the Korean War. These are token gestures. Trump did leave the current sanctions in place.
What is North Korea gaining? A reduction in military activity in South Korea.
Trump announced that he will order an end to regular “war games” that the United States conducts with ally South Korea, a reference to annual joint military exercises that are an irritant to North Korea.
Trump called the exercises “very provocative” and “inappropriate” in light of the optimistic opening he sees with North Korea. Ending the exercises would also save money, Trump said.
The United States has conducted such exercises for decades as a symbol of unity with Seoul and previously rejected North Korean complaints as illegitimate. Ending the games would be a significant political benefit for Kim, but Trump insisted he did not give up leverage.
He completely blindsided the South Koreans on that one.
So North Korea got what they wanted out of the meeting, and Trump got nothing of substance. Kim Jong Un also got one other thing: fluffed by America. Trump was silent on human rights abuses, and even said this:
Well, we’ve given him, I don’t wanna talk about it specifically, but we’ve given him, he’s going to be happy. His country does love him. His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor. They’re gonna put it together, and I think they’re going to end up with a very strong country, and a country which has people — that they’re so hard working, so industrious.
His people are slaves in a giant cage, who will be executed if they don’t show fervor. Trump has given Kim Jong Un a massive PR victory that he can use to quell any rebelliousness: America says you’re happy. America is going to stop even practicing opposition. America isn’t going to help you.
Isn’t it interesting how Trump can go from snarling at Canada and alienating the democratically elected leaders of allied nations, and then scurry off and express his warm appreciation of tyrants and dictators?
This is in line with Trump's praise for other dictators including Duterte, Erdogan, Gadhafi, and of course, Putin. Admiring dictators is one of Trump's few consistent policy stances.
His praise for Kim isn't just appeasement, but envy. It's what Trump wants for himself. https://t.co/4HdcxuwLMi
— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) June 12, 2018