Thursday, May 24, 2018

Dodging a Bullet or Missing an Opportunity?

I don't know whether to be angry or relieved that Trump will not be meeting Kim Jong Un in Singapore.  On the one hand, this is incredibly amateurish:
  1. Respond to a visiting South Korean official who says KJU might be cooperative by announcing a summit.
  2. Do no homework, prep, or work on anything besides coins and other symbols.
  3. Set expectations at maximal NK surrender.  The experts kept saying complete denuclearization was not on the table for NK....
  4. Brag about maximal pressure that pushed NK into a corner.
  5. Leave the Iran deal which almost certainly had tougher verification than anything the North Koreans would agree to.
  6. National Security Adviser Bolton talks dreamily of the Libya model--meaning the US fucks over North Korea in future with regime change (not to mention all the regime change stuff in the Iran conversations).
  7. Issue a coin and use various statements that make it abundantly clear that Trump needs this meeting more than KJU.
  8. Cancel meeting after NK issues testy press releases, as it wants to make clear it is not submitting to maximal pressure.
On the other hand, I have been legitimately worried that either a cranky Trump, after a long flight to Singapore, would get supremely angry at Supreme Leader OR he would suck up to KJU and abandon South Korea and/or Japan.  I really didn't expect anything good to come out of the summit, so I guess I am not that disappointed.

The big question is: what next?  Is the path to war shorter and faster or can we dither and blamecast and push that down the road some more?  I just don't know.  All I do know is that South Korea (and almost certainly Japan) were surprised by this announcement, and this is bad alliance management.  Which, of course, is to be expected, but we can still be appalled.  Most of the South Koreans I met earlier in the month were cautiously optimistic, but I felt that was mostly due to wishful thinking.  Sorry, folks.  Trump don't play that. 

All I know is that if I were an ally of the US right now, I would be hedging as much as possible. 

No comments: