Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 18, 2018

Trump's Newest Threat To North Korea Makes A Deal Impossible

President Trump again derailed the negotiations with North Korea. It will be difficult to get them back on track. The attitude he showed  makes it unlikely that any deal will be made.

Tuesday night North Korea threatened to cancel the summit with U.S. President Trump. Remarks by U.S. National Security Advisor Bolton that the "Libya model" would be applied to North Korea were taken as insult.

Libya had bought some equipment that could be used to eventually start Uranium enrichment. But it never had a coordinated program to develop nuclear weapons nor did it have the industrial and academic base to pursue such a project. To get out of sanctions Libya gave up the little material it had. All was shipped to the U.S. before the sanctions were lifted. Bolton probably referred to only that part of the "Libya model".

But there is also the other part. A few years after Libya had given up its minuscule nuclear stuff France, the United Kingdom and the U.S. (FUKUS) waged a regime change war against it. With U.S. help Muhammad Ghaddafi was murdered by radical Islamists and Hillary Clinton even joked (vid) about it. Libya has since devolved into total chaos and a multi-sided tribal war with continued foreign meddling.

North Korea naturally rejects both parts of the Libya model. It sees itself -quite rightly- as a full fledged nuclear state. It demands negotiations on an equal base.

On Wednesday, after the North Korean threat to cancel the summit, the White House spokesperson pulled back on Bolton's "Libya model":

Referring to the Libya comparison, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday that she hadn't "seen that as part of any discussions so I'm not aware that that's a model that we're using.

"I haven't seen that that's a specific thing. I know that that comment was made. There's not a cookie cutter model on how this would work."

The train to the summit seemed back on its track. Then Donald Trump derailed it again.

During a press conference yesterday he was asked about the "Libya model" issue (vid) and, in a seemingly off the cuff remark, managed to push the divisive comparison to a new level:

“The model, if you look at that model with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation. We went in there to beat him. Now that model would take place if we don’t make a deal, most likely. But if we make a deal, I think Kim Jong-un is going to be very, very happy.”

One might call that the 'art of the mafia deal': "Sign here or I will kill you."

Some media pretend that Trump was only "assuring" Kim Jong-un. Reuters headlined Trump seeks to placate North Korea's Kim over uncertain summit; the New York Times: Trump and North Korea Rebuff Bolton’s ‘Libya Model’; Politico: Trump offers North Korea’s Kim assurances and a warning.

In my book a thread of "total decimation" is a quite a bit more than "a warning".

The British Guardian had a more realistic take: Donald Trump's threat to Kim Jong-un: make a deal or suffer same fate as Gaddafi.

The threat Trump made shows North Korea that it was right to acquire nuclear weapons and the capability to launch them onto the continental United States. Giving them up would be suicidal.

Trump also mumbled that he would give "strong assurances" to North Korea and Kim Jong-un for their safety should they make a deal. He did not explain what those assurances would be. The way Trump destroyed the nuclear agreement with Iran, which came with "strong assurances" from a U.S president and a UN Security Council endorsement, demonstrates that no assurance the U.S. ever gives is worth the paper it is written on.

When the summit was announced I gave it little chance to succeed because there were too many potential spoilers with interests to keep the conflict with North Korea going. These include John Bolton, the U.S. military and the Japan's president Abe.

North Korea will surely respond to Trump's "total decimation" threat. It will likely pull out of the summit, planned for June 12 in Singapore.  It may come back if the White House backtracks on Trump's remarks. China, which is nudging North Korea and the U.S. towards making a deal, will let the White House know what it needs to do.

But I now believe that the summit, if it takes place at all, has zero chance to succeed. Trump has no knowledge of the political and technical details and no feel for Asian culture. He will huff and puff and insult his negotiation partner. He will likely demand the total nuclear disarmament of North Korea. He will end up with no deal.

Only after that failure will he learn that a "total decimation" of North Korea is not an option he can pursue.

Posted by b on May 18, 2018 at 20:10 UTC | Permalink


A "total decimation" is either an oxymoron or a Mr Malapropism.

Posted by: Bart Hansen | May 18 2018 20:22 utc | 1

Good. Now everyone knows Libya's failure was U.S doing.

Posted by: Fantome | May 18 2018 20:27 utc | 2

Does Mr Trump understand what table he is setting up? With his bad mouthed bluster he is showing disrespect, contempt and ill feelings before. This is 'Fail and Foolishness'

Posted by: Kd | May 18 2018 20:29 utc | 3

In the 1987 film "The Untouchables", hard-as-nails Chicago cop Jim Malone (Sean Connery) gives this famous bit of advice to would-be crimebuster Elliott Ness:

"You wanna get Capone? Here's how you get him. He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue! That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get Capone!"

When Bolton mentioned "the Libya model", everyone understood that he wasn't invoking some sucessful diplomatic initiative; they knew he was signaling a "Chicago Way" approach.

I wrote the other day that Trump/Bolton may be attempting to play Bad Cop/Worse Cop. Trump's blundering attempt at "clarifying" Bolton's reference is more of the same.

Posted by: Ort | May 18 2018 20:30 utc | 4

Since the end of the Cold War the examples of Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump convince me that only a hypocrite and sociopath can rise to the White House.

Posted by: AriusArmenian | May 18 2018 20:39 utc | 5

"Now that model would take place if we don’t make a deal, most likely."

Maybe Trump remembered to keep the threat level high and his comment just slipped out.

Somebody should ask him about the 30 - 40,000 American troops and dependents in SK. What's the plan there? Deep shelters? Or does he plan to move them out of the way for the weekend while the decimation is underway?

Posted by: dh | May 18 2018 20:42 utc | 6

So for Bolton, Mission Accomplished.

Posted by: WorldBLee | May 18 2018 20:54 utc | 7

Some "businessman" Donald Trump has turned to be, that he seems not to know how to make "deals" or to be able to "negotiate" with others, but knows only how to rip up agreements that don't favour the US above everybody else.

Posted by: Jen | May 18 2018 20:58 utc | 8

@dh #6:

The title of John Ford's movie about the early stages of the Pacific War was "They Were Expendable".

Posted by: lysias | May 18 2018 21:01 utc | 9

Its subject was the U.S. forces left on the Philippines.

Posted by: lysias | May 18 2018 21:03 utc | 10

"Only after that failure will he learn that a "total decimation" of North Korea is not an option he can pursue."
Right. But he will pursue it anyway.

Posted by: Pnyx | May 18 2018 21:18 utc | 11

I dealt with DJT personally on Palm Beach back in the 90's.
Bluff and bluster was all he had.When that doesn't work he whines like a pussy.
Nothing has changed except he is now CiC.
Scary thought.

Posted by: Winston | May 18 2018 21:21 utc | 12

@9 I just don't see Donald as being that ruthless (sorry Circe). If he wants to get WW3 going there are plenty of hotspots to choose from.

I do think he wants to be seen as a a 'winner' but he wants to be the 'good guy' too. No doubt some of his advisers aren't so fussy but if Trump sees those troops in SK as expendable then he is truly a monster.

Posted by: dh | May 18 2018 21:22 utc | 13

I don't think the point of the summit was ever to "succeed". North Korea is going through all the moves it has to go through. Talking with the US is some of the moves. The end goal, I think, is not to make a deal of any kind with the US. The goal is position the US into weakness, and South Korea into strength, such that the two Koreas can send the US home and reunite.

This will all take time. North Korea is the really the one leading this process, by setting the terms. And against these terms, the US is increasingly seen as inadequate and irrelevant.

Posted by: Grieved | May 18 2018 21:40 utc | 14

According to the Republican Hawks, the precedent has been set that a deal with the U.S. is only valid if it goes through Congress with enough votes and becomes a full fledged Constitutional Treaty, otherwise, it's no better than an off the record deal with a hat salesman.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | May 18 2018 21:46 utc | 15

Trump's book ought to have been given this title: The Art of Declaring Bankruptcy While Living Like a King.

Yes, Fantome @2--Trump just confessed USA's responsibility for all the crimes committed in Libya since NATO's invasion--a confession noted by too few.

Will China help Trump as b alludes? Given Xi agreed with Kim to cancel the meeting with Moon, and given China's reaction to Trump's previous threats of "total decimation," IMO Xi will side with Kim if the latter decides to cancel the meet with Trump in 3 weeks. As for assurances, absolutely nothing the Outlaw US Empire says or does is to be trusted as it's in 100% violation of its fundamental law and has operated so since WW2's end. For Koreans both North and South, the only way they'll get their peace and unification is to physically push the Outlaw US Empire's Stormtroopers out using People Power--Kim's supported by @80% of South Koreans (Moon has an 86% support rating)--which is also the only way to overcoming neocon Koreans potential to try a military coup in connivance with USA. It's very hard to know without being there, but I get the sense that Koreans are overwhelmingly tired of being occupied while having numerous guns pointed at their heads and they want an end to it--both North and South--and they finally have leaders who seem enthusiastic to do just that, thus the rather amazing support for Kim.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 18 2018 21:49 utc | 16

Christian Chuba @15--

Just because it's ratified doesn't mean it will be honored. My example is the UN Charter, which is part of the Supreme Law of the USA as per its constitution, but which has never been honored; rather, it's been trampled on mercilessly making a mockery of the US Constitution itself--particularly its Bill of Rights.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 18 2018 22:03 utc | 17

I think its worthwhile to note the media coverage over this affair as well.

NK was protrayed as anti-Bolton (raising Bolton's stock) - not pro-Peace.

The Trump WH downplayed the incident saying that they expected such maneuvering from NK. This non-acknowledgement of North Korea's rightful request to refrain (as agreed!) from belligerent action must be annoying to the North Koreans.

I actually think the summit will happen but fail. US will say that Kim is "not serious about peace."

Posted by: Jackrabbit | May 18 2018 22:11 utc | 18

I agree with the Grieved and karlof1 theories that Koreans, North and South mostly want to see their war end, and some form of unification bring a lasting peace. I also agree with others that the AZ Empire likely doesn't want this, so it'll take that "people power" if anything.

Sort of OT, regarding that infamous video clip of HRC cackling about Ghaddafi's brutal murder, does anyone know who the "newsperson" seated across from, and laughing with HRC is?

I understand the scene was one of those TV clip ops where the scene was set, HRC sat down and then one "news" person after the other would sit down and basically ask the same question to get their own "exclusive" identical soundbite.

To me, she looks like PBS's Judy Woodruff. But I haven't been able to find who it was. Anyone know?

Posted by: Daniel | May 18 2018 22:19 utc | 19

The "Libya Model," it should be noted, includes several important aspects which might serve as a model with another country such as North Korea.
1. Libya was a "strong ally" of the U.S. prior to the US military action, so no country is safe.
2. The U.S. exceeded the UNSC Resolution and its own claims when it killed the Libyan leader Gaddafi.
3. The devastating U.S. attacks on Libya violated the UN Charter, the law of the land.
# All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
# All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

from the files:
>Remarks by Ambassador [to Libya] Gene A. Cretz
at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Friday, June 4, 2010 (extracts)
–The United States and Libya have just embarked on the second year of fully renewed diplomatic relations – including the first exchange of Ambassadors in 36 years. In previous speeches, I have made – and will continue to make – the case that continued engagement with Libya is in our long-term national interest.
–The U.S.-Libya relationship has rapidly expanded to include much more than cooperation in nonproliferation and science and technology.
Today, Libya remains a strong ally in countering terrorism in a volatile region. It has fought the expansion of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, has condemned kidnappings, and has taken a position against the paying of ransom to kidnappers.

>President Barack Obama stated in a speech to the nation on March 28, 2011, "The task that I assigned our forces [is] to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a no-fly zone," adding explicitly, "Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake."

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 18 2018 22:22 utc | 20

I'm (by nature) still optimistic and I look forward to the results of the Moon-Trump meeting coming up on Tuesday in Washington (which have just been made more difficult).

-- from Straits Times

Mr Moon heads to Washington next week with the daunting task of crafting a unified approach between the two allies ahead of the June 12 meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Kim in Singapore.
While publicly supporting Mr Trump's campaign of sanctions and military threats, Mr Moon has long called for reconciliation with the North and has pushed Washington to engage with Pyongyang's overtures.
North Korea's threat this week to scrap the Trump summit if Washington continues to press for unilateral denuclearisation and complaints about US-South Korea military drills has done little to advance Mr Moon's hope for a peace deal.
"Moon did an impressive job building up political capital with both leaders - with Trump throughout 2017 and Kim more in 2018 - and has spent some of it to create a situation that brings North Korea and the US to the table," said adjunct fellow Andray Abrahamian at the Griffith Asia Institute.
"He's still in a position to act as a go-between, but only as far as the other two parties take bridgeable positions." . . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 18 2018 22:36 utc | 21

@18 "I actually think the summit will happen but fail. US will say that Kim is "not serious about peace.""

Anyone expecting something conclusive will be disappointed for sure. The US team (I don't think of Trump as an independent actor) will try to make Kim look like the spoiler. This will be a fairly easy sell domestically but Asians won't be so convinced.

Posted by: dh | May 18 2018 23:17 utc | 22

China has already stated the if the US launches an unprovoked attack on NK that China will respond to support NK. The US really can't do anything about NK but huff and puff.

Posted by: jack Leavitt | May 18 2018 23:34 utc | 23

Making a deal with the Mafia always involves having a gun put to your head. There is never any assurance the gun won't go off any time the Mafia Boss decides, deal or no deal. Best to pretend to accept the deal, then get the hell out of there, and go get your own gun(s). Kim will end up doing that.

Posted by: mike k | May 18 2018 23:44 utc | 24

The funniest part of Trump's threat is his promise to protect Kim from Trump if Kim makes a deal. In other words, don't make me do something I won't regret.

Posted by: RenoDino | May 18 2018 23:45 utc | 25

Also funny was Trump's comment about Kim's second trip to China. Like who does Kim think he is talking tough and strutting all around like China told him something he could take to the bank? Trump is trying to blame China for giving Kim a security guarantee and spoiling Trump's fun.

Posted by: RenoDino | May 19 2018 0:02 utc | 26

Libya's destruction by FUKUS was never about weapons of mass destruction or R2P protection of populations. From the jump. FUKUS goals in Africa were three fold. Destroy Gaddafi's Jamahariya so as to prevent the formation of a sovereign African currency bloc. The planned creation of an African monetary fund was signaling the death knell of the franc cfa currency upon which France and much of the EU bloc derive much of their power. The libyan operation was also a continuation of what happened prior in Ivory Coast. The ousted Ivorian president who wanted to leave the franc cfa currency is now rotting for close to a decade at the imperial court like Milosevic before him. Two, steal Libyan sovereing wealth funds (almost 500 billions euros) to prop up the failing western banking system. Most importantly to secure the TOUADENI basin in the Sahel. Touadeni is sort of consolation prize and collateral in time of crisis for FUKUS bloc who would love to get their hands on Siberia... The Touadeni basin is rich in hydrocarbons, rare earths, gold, gas, you name it. And it's smack dab in the middle of a most important transsaharan trade route where transits lucrative fungibles assets. In the meantime, fremen in the Sahel will continue to wreak havoc upon foreign invaders. Lots of potential targets for those Fremen. Besides FUKUS, Germans , Dutch and other EU forces are now setting up bases in the Sahel to secure the resource war booty.

Posted by: Augustin L | May 19 2018 0:08 utc | 27

Whatever's going on inside Trump's head, he really seems to have settled into behaving like the pop-culture caricature of a Mafia don-- especially with NK/Kim; with Putin and Xi, not so much.

Whether he's "being himself" and playing it by (tin) ear, or deliberately acting a variation of the "madman" gambit, in the surrealistic West diplomacy has been replaced by psychodrama.

"This is a nice little country you got here, Kim. It'd be a shame if something happened to it... ."

Posted by: Ort | May 19 2018 0:10 utc | 28

Many here seem to think that an agreement will embody some substance and so cannot possibly happen because Trump and the US system are incapable of living up to any substantial agreement.

While they are incapable of living up to a substantial agreement it does not make an agreement impossible. Trump lives for & right now NEEDS some great PR show-stopping stuff.

There will be an agreement - Will China keep it? Will NK keep it? Will the US keep it? Need we even ask the obvious?

Posted by: les7 | May 19 2018 0:16 utc | 29

Don Bacon @20, great post. Cretz's remarks should've been delivered through a goalie mask IMO.

Posted by: spudski | May 19 2018 0:32 utc | 30

Gaddafi was doubling the amount of money offered by AFRICOM to set up bases in Africa. The impediment to FUKUS imperial plans is gone now. Recently Senegal and Ghana both signed deals to house the Pentagon for years to come in the gulf of Guinea. Inside FUKUS division of labour the french are overstretched and weak. Their forces are all over equatorial Africa going all the way to the gulf of Mozambique but still unable to contain China's irresistible checkbook diplomacy. Even Russia is now deployed inside the french pré-carré in central African republic...

Posted by: Augustin L | May 19 2018 0:41 utc | 31

Absent a miracle, the US Military which controls all military in South Korea, would never depart from South Korea willingly, by treaty or otherwise. No matter what is agreed to.

Zappa has a song entitled, "I promise not to come in your mouth".

Posted by: fast freddy | May 19 2018 0:49 utc | 32

@28. Yep, I was in Mali when the war against Ghaddafi erupted. The whole downtown administration sector of Bamako was a gift from Libya so tons of Malians went to war to support him. Meanwhile, Gbagbo is ousted txs to french special ops and a year later Mali goes through a coup d'etat by a US trained officer. Nowadays, there are regular attacks in the north of Mali by various djihadi groups (btw, it is called Taoudeni, not Touadeni) on UN camps while Touareg secession is blocked, preventing control of the ressources by anyone not aligned with AFRICOM/France. A real effin' mess..

Posted by: Lozion | May 19 2018 0:59 utc | 33

@ fast freddy 33
the US Military which controls all military in South Korea, would never depart from South Korea willingly

That's true. I thing Kim's gambit is to reduce or eliminate the "war games" according to treaty, which would make US forces untenable w/o training. Also why do two countries at peace with each other require a foreign military force. There's a significant local civilian opposition to the US military in South Korea. (naturally) So there are other factors besides what the US wants, and BTW Trump has been determined to remove US forces from SK.

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 19 2018 1:07 utc | 34

@28 and 32 Augustine L

Thanks for the thoughts. Maps I quickly looked at show the TOUADENI basin as quite away west of Libya. Have you any links for further reading on EU 'forces' using Libya as launchpad for the resources there? Or have I misunderstood what you were saying?

Posted by: Tannenhouser | May 19 2018 1:18 utc | 35

If Trump wants the US Military (& by extension its expensive private contractors) out of South Korea, that would seem to put him at great odds with the CIA.

Gee, who was the last President to buck the CIA in a significant way (and what happened to him)?

Posted by: fast freddy | May 19 2018 1:34 utc | 36

dh@23 "The US team (I don't think of Trump as an independent actor) will try to make Kim look like the spoiler. This will be a fairly easy sell domestically but Asians won't be so convinced."

I really don't think it will sell in the larger USA - Trump looks more incompetent, snatching defeat from victory, and Bolton as purely duplicitous & maniacal.

No Nobel for Da Boss, and a massive war? Very hard to sell.

Posted by: daffyDuct | May 19 2018 1:37 utc | 37

Good. Now everyone knows Libya's failure was U.S doing.
Posted by: Fantome | May 18, 2018 4:27:19 PM | 2

Exactly. Talk about overwhelming pride!
Trump can't drain The Swamp until he has flushed its movers and shakers out into the open and provoked them into discrediting themselves. I couldn't help noticing the look on Bolton's face when, at the beginning of the press conference, Trump was pouring cold water on the Libya option. JB went from "if looks could kill..." to "happy as Larry" as soon as Trump put Libya back on the table.
B is right about the short-term fate of the NK talks but what has always made the Trump Show so riveting is its rich tapestry of Magical Mystery Tour qualities...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | May 19 2018 2:02 utc | 38

The US can't be trusted. Period.

Posted by: Laura Roslin | May 19 2018 2:03 utc | 39

I dealt with DJT personally on Palm Beach back in the 90's.
Bluff and bluster was all he had. When that doesn't work he whines like a pussy. Nothing has changed except he is now CiC.
Scary thought.
Posted by: Winston | May 18, 2018 5:21:06 PM | 12

Sounds like sour grapes to me...
Anyone who had ever got the better of Trump would, imo, have something worth bragging about. And they would be bragging about it, not whingeing about his shortcomings.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | May 19 2018 2:23 utc | 40

Hoarsewhisperer, Donald J. Trump is a serial bankrupt. I'm not how much you know about business, but a businessperson who uses bankruptcy, particularly in the construction business, as a method to complete his or her projects is hurting hundreds of small businesses and families with each and every project. Those small businesses do the work and buy the materials and then get pennies on the dollar.

Some of us were willing to give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt given the Scylla and Charabdis we were facing of either another (Jeb) Bush or Hillary Clinton in the White House. While Trump may be better than Clinton (he's less bloodthirsty - so far and a less accomplished bureaucrat and/or organization man), it would be fair to say those of us who gave him the benefit of the doubt have been continually disappointed in his presidency, from his early weeks firing of General Michael Flynt. I believe relative peacenik Flynt (the man did rise to general in the Pentagon) had the job which warmonger John Bolton now has.

In normal times, peace breaks out as peace is so much more profitable for all concerned than war. This formula is now upside down in the United States.

Returning to Winston's description of Trump as a bullying bluffer in the 90's, that sounds about right. How do you win against a player like this (willing to break his word, even go bankrupt to get his way)? You refuse to play. Which sounds like Winston had the good sense to reject Trump's advances.

Anyone still working as a Trump apologist at this point is fighting a losing battle, like the mother of a serial killer. A mother's defense of her child is almost excuseable. Those of Trump apologists much less so.


The tighter (and smaller) comment section on US military driveby murders and this article have made a big difference in readability and coherence of the comments. I'm not sure how sustainable this level of policing is - it's hard work for the moderator. Registration/login lowers the manual burden if real time comments are desirable (and in the case of the Whiskey Bar, almost a necessity). Login substantially increases the burden on the troll and/or vandal - s/he has to create an account each time and acquire enough good reputation to get off the moderate first list.

Posted by: Uncoy | May 19 2018 3:40 utc | 41

"...The model, if you look at that model with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation. We went in there to beat him. Now that model would take place if we don’t make a deal..."

I do believe that in international and humanitarian law, the very threat of war or 'total decimation' is in itself a war crime and a crime against humanity.

If only we had an effective independent world judicial system he and his administration would already be arrested and on trial as Trump and such have threatened war and military action against North Korea many times

Posted by: michaelj72 | May 19 2018 4:42 utc | 42

michaelj72 @43
If only we had an effective independent world judicial system....

Never gonna happen unless said system is backed by its own superior armed force. In which case its no longer obviously on the side of justice anymore..,,

Posted by: WJ | May 19 2018 6:01 utc | 43

Winston @12
People often lose sight of the fact that DJT is a builder, as in: a character from a building industry. Anyone who has dealt with the builders understands what this means. As a friend of mine says, DJT becoming CiC is like a realtor/realestate agent becoming a brain surgeon, a lot of brains will get blown out before he gets stopped.

The negotiations with Trump have to be arranged for the next morning, because he just cannot keep his mouth shut and his fingers away from the Twitter for the negotiations to even begin.

Posted by: Kiza | May 19 2018 6:16 utc | 44

Posted by: Uncoy | May 18, 2018 11:40:16 PM | 42
(Donald J. Trump is a serial bankrupt. Therefore...)

Let's not squabble over conflicting inconsistencies.
May I respectfully remind you that serial bankruptcy is not only natural and legal, but also praiseworthy in elite circles among Totalitarian Capitalist societies? It's perfectly legal here in Oz and has perfectly legitimate ORIGINS.

That's why the Banksters and Ratings Agencies weren't prosecuted for their role in the Sub-prime scam. i.e. they were considered by The Powers That Be to be acting in compliance with The Law (as changed under Pres Clinton et al. Ronnie Raygun started the deregulation ball rolling, imo).
If you can accept that reading of the Official attitude to bankruptcy etc (and all the harm it can cause) then you may be able to appreciate that Trump's sharp practices are seen as a feather in his cap and a mark of success. Some Biz types could even be envious at his shameless persistence.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | May 19 2018 6:20 utc | 45

I think what you're missing, b, is that ROK has been pushing the "trilateral talks" quite heavily, saying they have been extremely effective & that progress in that area is likely. So Trump actually just pushed ROK closer to the China-Russia-DPRK axis.

As for Japan, it truly has no part in *ANY* of these talks.

The simple truth is that of ROK decides to make peace with DPRK, there's nothing Trump or Abe can do to stop it. Once peace is declared then the Korean War is over, and there is quite literally no reason for US troops to remain in South Korea. If they aren't pushed out immediately, then they'll be gone within 10 years--and there's nothing the US can do about it.

The only thing the US can feasibly hope for, at that point, is to find some way to maintain friendly trade relations with the newly-unified Korea: a Korea that will be strongly inclined to follow China and Russia in ignoring sanctions on US/uk targets in the Middle East, Africa, & S. America.

There are still many obstacles that the Koreas face in achieving peace, but from where I'm sitting, Trump & Bolton's threats are just putting more and more distance between the US and the unfolding diplomatic processes.

Posted by: Pacifica_Advocate | May 19 2018 6:23 utc | 46

Uncoy add to #46.

I suggest you google 'bankruptcy pros and cons' and look for a short version.

For the vast majority of individuals declared bankrupt, it's not a pleasant experience. However it provides protection by limiting the ability of creditors to strip you stark naked and toss you into the street. If you've made an honest mistake, bankruptcy gives you the chance to redeem yourself. In principle its a good thing, in the long run.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | May 19 2018 7:16 utc | 47

@Lysia #9; So,the 'they were expendable' label one may assume, would apply equally to Guam?

Posted by: Pete | May 19 2018 8:45 utc | 48

Hoarsewhisperer | May 19, 2018 2:20:21 AM | 45

Bankruptcy under domestic law in many countries provides an option for those that have honestly stuffed up and path for rorters of the system.
In pulling US out of foreign entanglements, Trump would also be removing enforcement of using the US dollar in international trade. I doubt US could maintain its debt if US does not own world reserve currency. US military spending is at the moment roughly in line with its military spending. There is no law internationally, bankruptcy or otherwise, only law of the strongest, and Trump has 20 trillion or so of debt to offload.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | May 19 2018 9:54 utc | 49

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Posted by: قالب سازی | May 19 2018 10:53 utc | 50


"One might call that the 'art of the mafia deal': "Sign here or I will kill you."

More like:

"One might call that the 'art of the mafia deal': "Sign here and then I will kill you."


Posted by: b4real | May 19 2018 10:56 utc | 51

The factor that is key is that China and Russia have both made it clear that they will not defend any ally or friend attacked by the Hegemon. Thus there is no incentive for Trump to make a deal other than unconditional surrender. If Kim plays along, he might be allowed to save face, maybe even to live.

Posted by: paul | May 19 2018 11:11 utc | 52

@41 One of the things I learned from Trump in 1973 is that when you owe the bank one million dollars, you have a problem, when you owe the bank 100 million dollars, the bank has a problem.

Personally, I was ABC (anybody but clinton) team last election cycle. I hoped Trump would win because he is the joker in the deck. I hoped and still hope that this ass of a president would accomplish three things:

1: Immigration curbs.
2: A reigning in of the unfettered executive branch. President is not allowed "kinetic actions" or to MAKE laws or choose which ones to enforce.
3: Defense spending cuts.

Two and three are only possible if/when he is confronted with a democrat house and senate at midterm. If we can get these three things, it will have been worth the gamble. There is a lot of jockeying to get things done now before midterms, because if the dems get control of the house and senate a lot of committees are going to change direction. Dems are going to have to adopt a platform that resonates with independents to attract their votes and it is independents who are king makers (if they choose to play) these days. The Trump/Russia connection is not going to fill Democrat needs.

Regarding Korea, U.S. troops aren't going anywhere. I remember U.S. troops fleeing Vietnam. I remember U.S. troops pulling out of Beirut back in the eighties under Reagan when 300 or so were lost to a truck bomber. Other than that I can't recall a single instance of the U.S. shutting down any military bases anywhere except in the USA under Clinton. (Decimated many communities which had grown up around these bases.)

Until we see body bags at Dover in large numbers, I can't foresee U.S. pulling troops out of anywhere they are currently active including Syria. They are probably going to take significant hit in Syria in the near future. In Korea, not so much. NK is not going to attack and China has stated that it will defend NK if US attacks first. I think this situation is going to more of same. US is going to continue acting belllicose and Russia, China and Iran are not going to let NK crumble.

If anyone knows of any examples where U.S. decided to pull its forces from somewhere where significant US casualties were not a factor, please enlighten me.



Posted by: b4real | May 19 2018 11:52 utc | 53

Uncoy @ 41 -- are you the perfectly well-intended, Doo-Goody jackass whose Disqus recommendation FUQED UP SST???

Posted by: rjj | May 19 2018 12:01 utc | 54

Anybody who thinks this deal will hppen is bereft of realty.
The U.S. hegemon needs the Korean "problem" to continue; it just must!
It's all part of the hegemonic plan for a unipolar world; nothing else is acceptable...

Posted by: V | May 19 2018 12:18 utc | 55

jack Leavitt@23 "China has already stated the if the US launches an unprovoked attack on NK that China will respond to support NK. The US really can't do anything about NK but huff and puff."

Since the US is always attacked without provocation by enemies full of bottomless hatred of the Good aka the US, this means exactly nothing. China needs only pretend there is provocation. Kim's summits with Xi are about finding out what precisely might be a red line for China, a task complicated by the fact that China is currently engaged in eeconomic warfare with the north, side by side with its ally the US. If one protests that China is still providing minimal support for bare survival of the nation, if not the government, then one can only say that states do indeed play both sides simultaneously. US support for Islamists like Islamic State, even as it also attacks to some degree is the same kind of thing.

paul@52 "The factor that is key is that China and Russia have both made it clear that they will not defend any ally or friend attacked by the Hegemon. Thus there is no incentive for Trump to make a deal other than unconditional surrender. If Kim plays along, he might be allowed to save face, maybe even to live."

I agree that both states have made this commitment to the US, informally, even as they talk like bravely independent states. They are less hesitant to attack nominally independent actors. Russia versus islamists in Syria, China versus North Korea, for example. But there is a tremendous level of delusion on this, with many people really believing Russia and China can reverse the verdict of WWII without even mobilizing the total society, much less fighting a war. Both Xi and Putin are far too interested in servicing their wealthy to enlist their population in a desperate war. The US won WWII and the USSR surrendered. Empires don't fall, they're pushed. I would wonder why this isn't obvious. But then, there are hordes of people who think DC is the swamp, but not Wall Street.

Posted by: steven t johnson | May 19 2018 12:27 utc | 56

Like the Leviathan natural gas theft of Gazan offshore tracts, like the oil theft in Golan, like the huge oil and gas potential of Yemen, like the light sweet crude of Libya, like the Oil for Food theft of Iraq, the booming Iranian oil production, like the unrevealed oil and gas and iron and coke and copper bonanza of Afghanistan, raw strategic resource theft and KSA/Houston Nexus of Oilvil is NEVER, EVER mentioned in the global media.

It's always portrayed as the Judeo-Christian 'struggle' against the dark forces (sic) of (Shi'ia) Islam, in this, the Last Great Crusades, one of Mil.Gov pop-idols and Pentagon-CIA talking heads, as $Ts disappears through wide lava fissures in the US-EU Treasuries, growing ever wider, and the interest-only FOREVER bleedout of the welfare-robbing crack spread by the Chosen Banks is also NEVER, EVER mentioned in the media either, in this 21stC American-European Christian Holocaust, one that cannot be openly spoken of.

Oh, look, an Islamic Cockroach!!

PRNK, on the other hand, has only coal, and dirt cheap labor, and rumors of lithium resources. Of course the illegal Isreali Junta in Kiev, the one that looted the Ukraine treasury and sentbthe gold bulliin to WADC, the one the Rothschilds IMF-WB loaned $50B to, the one Kerry-Kohn looted $50B from SS to backstop those IMF-WB loans, of COURSE tge Isreali Junta in Kiev would sell Pyonyang Ukraine ripocket motors and old Russian nuclear warheads, look at the BONANZA of Treasury looting that followed! The Never-Ending Forever-Debt-Widening Candy-Apple Red Bolshevik Lucuferian Pentagon Bleedout!!

And all we get is Work or Starve and End to ACA healthcare, and elimination of School Lunch Programs, and cuts, even taxes on, SS and MC trust fund payouts, NEVER, EVER mentioned in the medua as 'structural adjustments', oh no, thatvwould be 'failedvstates' like Argentina, Greece and Venezuela!!

And when the Grey Aliens finalky arrive and dig through the still smoldering videobtapes in the White House Annex, they'll ask, WTF happened here?! The $100Ts of wealyh wrested from this virgin continent's fields, forests, rivers and mines, the $100sTs in oil and gas wealth spewing gold dust over the Earth, more wealth BY FAR than all of the wealth of all of human history, WHERE DID IT ALL DISAPPEAR TO?

The 'Libyan Model' is just the latest 'bust out' formula gyned up by the sicks quants over in Alexandria. It's not 'about' anything more than 'bicycling' the last, the very last, wealth of the public US Treasury, into the offshore private tax-haven vaults of New Pharoahs of NYC, London, Tel Aviv, Mockva, Riyadh, Beijing and Hyderabad.

The Boomers are the last quintile remaining that holds wealth, instead of debt. The Boomers will be stripped of that wealth by Big Pharma, and MIC Eldercare, then it'll be gone! The Millenials will inherit Dust in the Wind, a Perpetual Trail of Tears, and a Rose-Gold i-Phone, and all this horseshit about Trump, Pompeo, Bolton and Kim, this Carnal Exceptionalist sideshow, the last, futile trope of WINNING!, will be long forgotten.

Posted by: Chipnik | May 19 2018 12:29 utc | 57

- The driving force behind the attacks on Libya was France. Libya wanted to create a monetary union with other countries in West Afica. That would replace the Euro with the libyan dirham. That would have undercut the (large) french influence in West Africa.

Posted by: Willy2 | May 19 2018 12:44 utc | 58


I would posit this whole GoTs schlock with Pyongyang is just scripted psycho-drama ahead of September's Omnibus Bill, where the True State of the Color Purple Mil.Gov UniParty Bleedout will become even more apparent, just in advance of the Great Emotional Buy-In aElection Charade of November, so that by Christmas/Hannakuh, all those empty stockings filled with lumps of coal, and all those shivering families will have been stress-positioned into passive acceptance, like the Irish potato-eaters.

Sorry, kids, no video games, no cell phone, no books for school, we all have to sacrifice for Truth, Justice and The American Way (R). And there will undoubtedly be some new Avengers movie over the holidays, as Captain America battles the evil forces of some generic Asian master-criminal.

Every fellow for his own, tooth and nail. Gulp. Grub. Gulp. Gobstuff.

He came out into clearer air and turned back towards Grafton street. Eat or be eaten. Kill! Kill!

Then Mom and Pop have to go back to work to pay for the Next $T Mil.Gov Bleedout Interest-Only FOREVER Omnibus.

You better work bitch, you better work bitch
You better work bitch, you better work bitch
Now get to work bitch!
Now get to work bitch!

Posted by: Chipnik | May 19 2018 13:06 utc | 59

- Right. Premier Abe wants to increase japanese military spending and then a North Korea disarming/giving up its nuclear weapons would have undermined that policy.
- It will be interesting to see what South Korea is going to do. And what the instructions are that were given to the new US ambassador for South Korea (former admiral Harris). How much courage has South Korea to stand up against the US ? Are they now seeking the support of China ? Is South Korea going to postpone those joint military exercises with both Japan & the US ?

Posted by: Willy2 | May 19 2018 13:18 utc | 60

steven t johnson @ 56
Relax, Steve, the US no longer dictates to the rest of the world. I'm not sure that it ever did, but those days are past.
By the way, Russia and China won the Second World war, they have no interest in reversing that result, which would restore Japanese power in Asia and Germany's in Europe.
This article in NEO might help you grasp current reality.

Posted by: bevin | May 19 2018 13:21 utc | 61

@ Pacifica_Advocate 46
The simple truth is that of ROK decides to make peace with DPRK, there's nothing Trump or Abe can do to stop it. Once peace is declared then the Korean War is over, and there is quite literally no reason for US troops to remain in South Korea. If they aren't pushed out immediately, then they'll be gone within 10 years--and there's nothing the US can do about it.

Yes, the locals are handling the problem very well and the US is rather irrelevant. That's a good thing. Especially Bolton and Pompeo should be taken with a grain of salt; they are un-elected fools with no authority to do anything. The new US ambassador Harris also fits in this category, he's simply a narrow-minded military China-hater, no more, with a recent "rising sun" award from Japan to make it worse. None of these people speak the local language, literally or figuratively, so if they are allowed to do so, Kim and Moon will work it out.

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 19 2018 13:31 utc | 62

Trump runs Int’l negotiations as if he was dealing with a Carpet Co. to put stellar flash carpet in a yuuge number of hotels. Yelling and screaming, threats, slammed down phones, fancy dinners, wifey-s meet -n kissy-kissy, appeasement, bombs of e-mails and tweets, juniors and others given stiff instructions, become tearful and stressed, quit, midnight calls, outraged posturing, etc.

Once the deal is done - on the surface with some a-hem nod-nod good faith - there are yet other hurdles to negotiate, how to control the quality, the time it takes, the job promised/given or not to the nephew, and who is that shmuck anyway, what is this sh*t? :)

Volatile, unpredictable, situation. Kim -NK I’m sure understands all this. Pres. Moon -SK as well.

The switcheroo between Dem / Rep enemies alternating genocidal moves holds. > DT contra Iran, pro NK, vs. Obiman the opposite.. what to make of? ...

Israel’s clandestine links with North Korea date back to the operations of the Israel Corporation, which controlled Israel Aircraft Industries and Zim Israel Navigation Shipping Company.

strategic culture. W. Madsen

war is boring

Posted by: Noirette | May 19 2018 14:04 utc | 63

If Trump's past demonstrations of negotiating style are any indication the North Korea talks will go nowhere. Here is Trump boasting how 'I screwed Gadaffi'. (Incidentally, the Libyan bombing campaign was led by a Canadian RCAF General, Charles Bouchard, now the CEO of Lockheed Martin, Canada.)

Donald Trump: I 'Screwed' Gaddafi (Video)

Posted by: John Gilberts | May 19 2018 14:42 utc | 64

bevin@56 "By the way, Russia and China won the Second World war, they have no interest in reversing that result, which would restore Japanese power in Asia and Germany's in Europe."

Germany and Japan were trying to establish independent empires against the old world order of the British Empire (supplemented by the French empire and the US protectorate over the Americas.) They failed, but the British and French lost, while the US won. The Soviet Union won militarily, but they are gone. The Nazis could take Leningrad and Stalingrad but Yeltsin/Putin did. The counterrevolutionaries are first and foremost enemies of their own people, not the US.

The Chinese revolution proved the limits of the US' world hegemony, hence the ferocious onslaughts against Korea and Vietnam and Indonesia. The US is still in Korea, Indonesia is still crippled and Vietnam was tamed by Deng's murderous invasion. (That was a war of choice that intentionally led to more death than Mao's much hated Cultural Revolution did, which tells you very much about the morals of democratization supporters.) Xi is committed to a policy of limiting growth to what is profitable, which means he is intentionally limiting China's ability to stand up to the US hegemony, no matter what he says. (He may be sincerely convinced capitalism works, because such folly is convenient to his personal power.)

The thing is, there is no such thing as a capitalist world where nations peacefully cooperate on an equitable basis of mutually recognized sovereignty. That madness is why the world resorted to the Great War whose centenary we are still in. The idea that Putin and Xi are merely anti-hegemonist, with the US hegemony as some sort of unnatural, quasi-criminal perversion of the gifts of capitalism is BS, malicious propaganda. Capitalism=imperialism, and Russia and China and India and Vietnam and Korea and Turkey and every other nation is either at war with its enemies, or part of a hegemony keeping the balance of power, what imperialism miscalls by the name of peace.

The US military correctly assesses China and Russia as revisionist, just like Germany and Japan were revisionist. (Japan began its imperial expansion in China in WWI.) They will no more be successful in revising the world hegemony without war than their predecessors were. At this point, they are not even making an effort, they are still trying in vain to compromise, relying on soft power. This is like Thomas Jefferson thinking the Embargo Act would bring the British Empire to its knees. (Jefferson, as a primary creator of states' rights defense of slavery gets good PR, but he was in all a terrible, grossly incompetent president, whose only claim to competence was buying Louisiana, prudently ignoring everything he had said were his principles.)

Posted by: steven t johnson | May 19 2018 15:16 utc | 65

@ steven t johnson 64

re: China is is committed to a policy of limiting growth to what is profitable and will not be successful in revising US world hegemony.

Apparently you are unfamiliar with two massive China efforts, Belt & Road Initiative and Made in China 2025, which will destroy (or "revise") US world hegemony. China has already made great strides by controlling the world supply of rare earths, for example, in the military field, and also in increasing control of its "near abroad" in the Pacific.

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 19 2018 15:34 utc | 66

Don Bacon@65 cites the Belt&Road Initiative (also known as OBOR in older reports) and Made in China 2025. The first we can think of as the New Silk Road to Nowhere, nowhere being the utopia of an ever-expanding Chinese share of an ever-expanding world economy. I don't know if Xi is merely hypocritical in pretending capitalist growth can go on forever, or if he really is so deluded as to think it's his personal mastery of orthodox economic theory that has preserved China, rather than the stabilizing influence in the domestic economy of the massive SOE's (state-owned enterprises.) This is supposed to be a profit-making venture in the end. Pakistan and the like will never be able to repay.

Nonetheless, I believe crises are inevitable in capitalist economies. Xi's pronounced efforts to win a non-Communist base in the new rich and their "middle class" employees requires an assault on SOEs, and requires destabilizing the Chinese economy. Even now, the Chinese economy still hasn't developed the kind of internal market the metropoles of the imperialist system have. The would-be capitalist restorationists have already smashed the so-called "iron rice bowl" in the name of profits, er, "efficiency" or "production." Increasing unemployment even more by trashing the SOEs, will help strangle the internal market just as much as economic crisis, I think. Which by the way, puts a cap on who much Made in China 2025 can achieve.

There's a reason why Xi has felt it necessary to concentrate power in his hands: There's never enough to go around to satisfy capitalists, so he has to take over personally, to keep the rivalry in hand. But in the end, he and all his ilk are planning on capitalism working as advertised. This is folly.

My opinion, of course.

Posted by: steven t johnson | May 19 2018 16:28 utc | 67

Remember Peter Navarro?
When Trump needed a flashy impactful event to prop up his narcissism he promoted Peter, Gary Cohen resigned and the media/public got the high profile threat of a trade war with China.

Now that Trump has seen China can push back (ZTE and soybeans), it seems that Peter is out and other saner heads are attempting to patch things up.

But Trump got his big splash. Like I have said a few times 'asymetrical leadership'

Now for some social/Media Engineering - the role of a N.Korea deal.
The Western Public was getting burned out on the fear thing, no one was reading or caring, response to media hype about Russia was flat. Media needs to give it a rest, a sense of progress needs to be re-established before the next round of false-flagged confrontation happens.

There can only be outrage when realistic expectations of peace and security are violated. A N. Korean deal - no matter how empty or vapid it might be, will be played in just that way - a future of security and peace. A N. Korean deal plus a few other successes will be the foundation for the next false-flagged sense of outrage (which I expect to happen near the climax of the world cup).

while initially I thought the false-flagged confrontation might be directed against Russia, Bolton's presence suggests that Iran might become the target instead.

The key? The longer the media build-up of security and hope, the stronger the false-flagged outrage.

Posted by: les7 | May 19 2018 16:31 utc | 68

Trump did Qaddifi? in?obama did the deed.

Posted by: dahoit | May 19 2018 16:46 utc | 69


Steve, while I agree with much of what you wrote, there are no "roads to nowhere"

roads are far more than economic channels. They are Military, Political, Ideological (religious) and Social channels as well.

On a strictly Social level roads enable those who are determined to work inside the system to get to the centres where their loyalty will be rewarded. At the same time those dissatisfied with 'The system' have a way out and a place to settle away from the weight of it all. Your 'nowhere' is someone's refuge.

The same type of case can be made politically, militarily, and ideologically. To measure a "road" simply in economic terms is a simplistic and Xi is well aware of this.

Posted by: les7 | May 19 2018 17:08 utc | 70

One Hegemony falls next comes...just a matter of history fact. Elite is fighting for Hegemony...people are canon folder and collateral damage ...this will never change :( It is in human blood from the beginning of the time. No matter how much we as humanity progress one thing stays the same : GREED.
And greed exactly is one thing that will bring us to the end of civilizations and probably to the point when this planet will be uninhabitable.
I wish I can be more optimistic but...

Posted by: vbo | May 19 2018 17:18 utc | 71


The first we can think of as the New Silk Road to Nowhere, nowhere being the utopia of an ever-expanding Chinese share of an ever-expanding world economy.
What you mean there is if the Chinese project doesn't correspond to what you think should be done, it's going nowhere. Well, I should be highly surprised if the Chinese think the same way as you. Belt and Road is pretty much Blue Sky venture investment, as they would see it. As not many Westerners know much about Central Asia, they are not much qualified to criticise. From what I know, I would say there's good potential, but not in the short term.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 19 2018 17:32 utc | 72

BRI - "the New Silk Road to Nowhere" per STJ
>Oct 15, 2017 - First freight train launched between China's Changchun and Germany's Hamburg. So far more than 5,000 cargo train trips have been operated on routes linking China with Europe.
>May 12, 2018 - Beijing has officially opened its new train route to Iran, as the US urges its companies to wind down their operations with the Islamic Republic.

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 19 2018 17:46 utc | 73


Sometimes you write like a marvelous old Beat Poet, lit up by a passel of magic mushrooms. How can you refrain from naming them? The psychopathic wrecking crew is simultaneously suing for peace while making earnest preparations for war.

We have seen this all before. We have all been here before. The twitching torturers, the chiselers, the hyenas and other scavengers, vulture capitalists and sycophants and cannibals, soldiers of fortune and war profiteers, venturing as they do, into the dim urine-colored light, to embrace and fuck the Golden Calf.

Posted by: Copeland | May 19 2018 18:02 utc | 74


Potent, pithy and profoundly well-spoken. You've given me a laugh and a reflection to carry through the day.

Posted by: les7 | May 19 2018 18:06 utc | 75

re Don 72

The freight runs between Beijing and Europe are quite well-established now. There's even been one run that got as far as backward Brexit Britain, though I think the German trips started before Oct 2017. It's a very useful intermediate-level transport route, less expensive than air freight, but quicker than sea voyage. Quite a bit of transshipment though, as the rail gauge is different between Russia and Europe.

Though I think those runs are not included in the Belt-and-Road initiative, which is more about economic development in Central Asian countries, the Stans if you prefer.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 19 2018 18:28 utc | 76

@Pete, #48:

Of course it applies to Guam; for that matter, it applies to Ryukyu (Okinawa), Japan, ROK, et al, all those hosting US military bases or entered military alliances/pseudo-alliances with the Snake.

A decade or so ago Guam was the frontier fortress of USA in both the eyes and minds of China and the US. But today Guam is just an arms depot and launching pad for physical attacks on China, in the minds of both sides. Expendability is taken for granted. Else the Snake wouldn't be poking the Dragon so blatantly over the last decade if it ever ponders the mortal risk to the 150K local population of Guam. But today wiping out Guam (and it is easily done) is just removing one enemy tactical unit; China doesn't consider that as adequate tic-for-tac for physical damages done on Chinese soil. If war is pushed onto China and indigene destructions made, you can rest assured that China would retaliate the same on Snake's homeland. They have developed, and demonstrated, such capabilities.

The Snake is playing with fire. It will get burnt.

Posted by: Oriental Voice | May 19 2018 18:41 utc | 77

@Uncoy #41:

In complete agreement with your insight.

Posted by: Oriental Voice | May 19 2018 18:43 utc | 78

There will be a nuclear deal that relieves sanctions on the DPRK and ends joint ROK-US offensive military exercises. The only question is whether the US will be a party to it. Effective sanctions against DPRK can only work if China is behind them. Conflict between the US and the ROK on continuation of offensive military exercises is likely to undermine the current joint command arrangement. For ROK the issue is fundamental: will they have agency in setting their own military posture and acting in their own interests? The shift in the relative strengths of US and ROK forces over the past 25 years, enabled by the growth of ROK's economy, changes the game fundamentally. The joint command arrangement is obsolete for ROK and there is now a threshold for stress in US-ROK relations that would change that arrangement, which is becoming highly relevant. The convergence of Chinese, DPRK, and ROK interests in developing and integrating the DPRK are strong and the US has no leverage other than threatening the use of force, which would trigger the Chinese-DPRK defense treaty.

Posted by: Thirdeye | May 19 2018 19:09 utc | 79

@ Thirdeye 79
Yes, excellent, the US position rests on a bed of sand, which China, DPRK, and ROK can easily wash away. Leave it up to the locals, I (we) say.

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 19 2018 19:42 utc | 80

New,as in additional Chinese exports to BRI countries were a fraction under
$700bn last year.New imports at around the same in balanced trade.
With most of the infrastructure still being built its off to a roaring start.
Projected to double within 3 years.
Yuan oil futures and yuan bond markets are also growing apace.

Posted by: Winston | May 19 2018 19:46 utc | 81

@ Laguerre 76
Though I think those runs are not included in the Belt-and-Road initiative, which is more about economic development in Central Asian countries, the Stans if you prefer.

from PRC Mar 28, 2015

China unveils action plan on Belt and Road Initiative -- The initiative aims to promote orderly and free flow of economic factors, highly efficient allocation of resources and deep integration of markets by enhancing connectivity of Asian, European and African continents and their adjacent seas. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 19 2018 20:07 utc | 82

China high-speed rail

High-speed rail (HSR) in China has ballooned from a single 113 kilometers (70 mile) demonstration line built specially for the 2008 Beijing Olympics into a 25,000 kilometer (15,500 mile) nationwide system. That first Beijing-Tianjin line took three years to build. The rest of the national network took just another ten.
China's originally-planned "4+4" network of four north-south and four east-west main lines is now nearing completion. An extended "8+8" network of 38,000 kilometers (24,000 miles) of high-speed rail is projected to be operational in 2025. Later improvements are likely to focus on speed rather than distance. . .here

The US has zero HSR.

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 19 2018 20:13 utc | 83

I would like to put in a good word for the world-changing nature of the new Silk Road. In economic terms, roads are more than simple connectors between points. They enlarge the total economy, in exactly the same way that any network increases exponentially in value as it increases linearly in size.

Individual points along the network increase in their intrinsic value simply from being connected to other points, which similarly gain in value.

To misunderstand the value of what China is doing is to think that China is not fighting to the death against the current Hegemon, and 500 years of imperialism, including a bitter century or more of the jackboot on its own face. The Silk Road is its overarching, pre-emptive strategy that renders fruitless the action of war for a huge portion of the world, and probably all of it, once the Road builds up enough global gravitas.

Economics has a direct impact on political, military, ideological and social values. Ask Europe how, after absorbing the humiliation of the sanctions on Russia, it is now going to absorb more sanctions on Iran? The money loss is enough to transform the geopolitical values of the EU, and I suspect we are watching it happen.

Posted by: Grieved | May 19 2018 23:22 utc | 84

I will continue to believe that the US will do everything in its power to sabotage any meaningful treaty, if given a seat at the table. This Cold War ember is simply too lucrative and useful to the MIC--not as a hot war (although there are crazies who see that as a close second to the status quo), but as a continuing trouble spot that can be fanned or smothered from time to time as need be.

The really interesting thought experiment is trying to picture what the Koreas, left alone, might come up with by way of re-unification. There are three generations of Koreans who have led an incredibly different life from the North to South, much more dramatic than the Germanys I think, so there are very real cultural issues to be addressed. We have seen the trend of regions seeking autonomy from central governments, ultimately seeking independence, so perhaps the process could reverse in Korea, with the North initially retaining a great deal of autonomy and continuing to "do things the Kim way" yet with some sort of shared, central, federal government. This might satisfy what I would assume is Kim and the power structure of the North's reluctance to surrender the power and benefits they now receive, while working on the relatively easier tasks such as integrating the militaries, infrastructure and transportation projects, etc. first. Ideally, the Northern government could thusly slowly fade away as a separate power base. In the end I'm sure they can come up with a uniquely "Korean" solution to the problems, but it is going to be a massive challenge. I wish them the best.

Posted by: J Swift | May 20 2018 0:42 utc | 85

And let's not forget that Trump also blamed China for moving NK away from the summit and no longer open to making a deal and then proceeded on an anti-China rant.

Trump is not pragmatic enough to come to an agreement with NK coupled with being politically spineless to make an honest deal palatable to NK that doesn't involve denuclearization.

Perhaps, NK could have controlled nuclear arms by joining the NPT and agreeing not to test any more nuclear weapons or ICBMs. But then this would represent a weaker deal than the Iran deal and Trump would never go for it.

Posted by: Circe | May 20 2018 2:48 utc | 86

Which barfly posted an expectation of a false flag in Russia during the World Cup?

Check this out:

Attack On Russia is Being Prepared

"...the operation to prepare a large-scale hybrid offensive against Russia through Tajikistan and Uzbekistan is in the final phase."

"...a large-scale offensive of geopolitical opponents on all fronts: in Ukraine, possibly through Armenia, as well as a number of other post-Soviet countries:"

"Obviously, the United States did not seize Afghanistan, by rigging its military dictatorship there, in order to build democracy and civil society there. This is a springboard for the creation of terrorist networks, with the help of which the US is preparing an aggression against Iran and Russia."

Posted by: Daniel | May 20 2018 2:49 utc | 87

Posted by: Don Bacon @ 83

"The US has zero HSR."

Indeed. Our infrastructure is notoriously crumbling, and yet TPTSB do not repair, let alone build new, 21st century projects.

When I look at photos/videos of Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Dubai and other GCC countries, and even Tehran, I see the sort of scenes we USAmericans only see in science fiction films. Amazing architecture, HSR, ultra-fast internet, etc. etc.

More evidence that we are being made obsolete and are expendable?

Posted by: Daniel | May 20 2018 2:56 utc | 88

This man definitely does not deserve a nobel peace prize. Yet again, Kissinger and Obama won one...

Posted by: Wanton Peace | May 20 2018 3:11 utc | 89

When I look at photos/videos of Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Dubai and other GCC countries, and even Tehran, I see the sort of scenes we USAmericans only see in science fiction films. Amazing architecture, HSR, ultra-fast internet, etc. etc.

I have never been to China but my friends who visited China were impressed and breathless by what they have seen.
Visiting Europe in the past 10 years I was totally surprised by total decline and decay of western Europe especially Italy and France but also England and even Germany compared with Eastern Europe that is fast developing .It seemed to me that nothing happened in the west in last 30 years but a lot happened in the East.
Rise of China is a result of western elite greed. It is too late to reverse things back and west is choked
trying to do that...

Posted by: vbo | May 20 2018 5:09 utc | 90

steven t johnson says:

But in the end, he and all his ilk are planning on capitalism working as advertised

yeah, there's the rub...our glorious overtures to a multipolar world are being simultaneously castrated by the economic growth mantra, the first and last precept from the temple of central planning. all those fast trains are gonna leave a lot of people behind, only faster. lucky for them, though, not choking on the heavy metal laden air in the commercial centers, they'll keep the secondary roads clear of kudzu, stretches of asphalt where the reptiles'll keep coming out to warm their cold blood.

Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains.You could see them in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery (Cormac McCarthy)

Posted by: john | May 20 2018 11:16 utc | 91

The thing is, there is no such thing as a capitalist world where nations peacefully cooperate on an equitable basis of mutually recognized sovereignty. steven at 65

Neatly put… But it hinges on the precise definition of ‘capitalism’ which does not exist in any pure form. So - it all depends. MAD remains a threat, trade with partners is a must; etc. Plus, a purely functionalist pov that sets aside grounding principles which might be more aspirational or communally held and approved of (more and more common unfortunately) is too one-sided (not accusing steven, just in general.)

OBOR, as I first saw it, is an expansion of land communication routes from / to China, putting paid to the old order of Maritime domination / movement and control thru it. (Historical.) Probably the first aim is to désenclaver, open up, some Chinese regions / routes with links to ‘outside China’ discuss it one really needs some concrete examples of what is really going on, what the effects / obstacles etc. are. This first aim will be accomplished I suppose (see for ex. post ww 2 routes in Europe..ok not the same, but see the process..) All that and Chinese efforts today are built on the presumption of endless available energy (even if expensive) and the concomitant ‘growth’ etc.

How that comes to an end needs to be figured in, or at least floated as a possibility.

Posted by: Noirette | May 20 2018 14:00 utc | 92

Posted by: paul | 52

”The factor that is key is that China
and Russia have both made it
clear that they will not defend any
ally or friend attacked by the
Hegemon. ”

Citation for China said that?
Historically, China earned its credibility to fight nuke capable US or Soviet when its only juz finish civil war, without nuke or modern weapons to retaliate. Eg Korean war against US, Vietnam war against US then with Soviet, India border war against US & Soviet combined. It warned/stop against US-India military intervention on Mauritius this year with a flotilla of 14 warships. It helps Philippine juz win a US-ISIS invasion of one city. Now it openly warned US it has a defense pact with NK, and ready to intervene if US strike unprovoke. Enough credibility when China warn anyone? So China always called US paper tiger since Mao.

Russia did declared that in Syria war recently to my surprise, also it(Soviet) never defended any ally against strong opponent, eg Cuba against US, Vietnam with mutual defense treaty against China, India against China, Pak against India backed by US,Ukrain Donbass, Iraq Saddam, Syria & Iran now.

Posted by: DrTT | May 20 2018 14:14 utc | 93


...efforts today are built on the presumption of endless available energy...

check this out, pretty cool!

Posted by: john | May 20 2018 14:43 utc | 94

On Bri or Obor, it served multi purposes.

1.To export China excess capacity in manufacturing & huge infrastructure building capability.

2.To exports its goods & import raw materials from best multi sources in best transport efficiency & cost.

3. For secured supply routes against US sealanes blockade, esp energy.

4. To help release all developing countries potential with sufficient infrastructure like ports, roads, rails, electricity, hydropower, etc. hence a growing market for its goods & services.

5. Geopolitical influence, when the whole world reap the benefits.

6. Stable investment return of China excess reserve. Poor country pay back low interest loan by resource export while enjoy new growth with infrastructure, without short sighted West vultures trying to bankcrupt everyone they could with USD loan under manipulated exchg rate crisis in every decade. This work like barter trades, they get to sell resources at better price using new BRI route, while able to buy China goods with less (transport)cost.

To give an idea how efficient supply chain & transport system can fuel a domestic economy like China: Apple Steve Jobs told Obomba, iPhone & jobs aren't returning to US, China has most comprehensive supplies, walk down 50m you find 50 factories making screws, in US it may took weeks to request some samples.

If you order a $2 product like USB cables on line in China Taobao, its free shipping by despatch in whole huge China, including large items & free return within 7/30days. Try visit Alibaba website, for a $5 item you can get free shipment to US. In my country within city it cost me $5~10 delivery for small item selling $5 online, but $20 in shop. When the whole country get link up with ultra efficient supply chain, it revolutionize the consumption habit with unbelievable low cost, similar like Amazon. China is exporting its successful model to the world to fuel the global growth. Eg.In Spore you get dozens of cargo ships passing by daily all willing to unload ice cream at lowest price, but for Oz, its once every 3wks on a special ship only for Oz with high freight cost.

Sit tight when BRI reaches you to see how supply & consumption revolutionize the whole world after all link up, with AI & automation to throw in. How? Like your Target store know your pregnancy before you even aware from your shopping habits, so to custom its product range & advertisement. Warehouse ship out your online ordered items fully automated & replenished itself.

Bri to nowhere propaganda is a ZUS sabotage to block BRI, with war or terrorist & regime change happening in BRI nodes.

Posted by: DrTT | May 20 2018 15:52 utc | 95

"Rise of China is a result of western
elite greed. It is too late to reverse
things back and west is choked
trying to do that..."
Posted by: vbo | May 20, 2018
1:09:31 AM | 90

Rise of China is a natural phenomenon, in last few thousand years they have always been the strongest & most prosperous until Qing Dynasty that missed the industrial revolution, further ruined by Opium war & endless wars.

Its the Chinese sheer hardwork & sacrifice of one or two generation with central power gov & visionary committed leaders to condense its rise within last 30yrs. The West & Jp has been all along sanctioning China & try to sabotage it in every turns, block its technology access, WTO unequal terms, language disadvantage, unequal trade tariffs, etc with FUKUS among lowest FDI to China & blocking most China FDI. Google to educate yourself to clear this myth that West help China rise.

In next 2decades, it will start exponential growth after it acquired complete technology self sufficiency & lead in every front with innovations, with its billions of well educated, highest IQ & diligent people serve with a gov delicated to China dream. China believed they are center of the world, Zhong Yuan, so it will relived like Tang Dynasty, where everyone will come to pay tribute volunteerily & happily to get its protection & trade benefits in a peaceful world.

Its the West greed caused its own declination with hollowing out industry & endless wars instead of continue to build on its strength, while the Asia surge pass swiftly. Hence the greater contrast. Germany & Switzerland didn't fall for that. But they lack size. Every 4yrs China produced a Germany, 7yrs a Jp, 16yrs a US with its 20M per year new work force entering. China Prez is always waking up in cold sweat to think how to feed & keep up 1600M Chinese with rising expectation, while creating 20M new employment yearly to avoid unrest.

China infrastructures are first class in my global traveling since Yr 2000. US is still milking its 1960's old structures, so are the West & Jp. But China pollution & poor sewage systems are unfit for decent living. Prez Xi has grand plan to make China a green country, already reducing pollution 20~30% within 3yrs, a maverick that US took 10yrs to achieve resulting in economy crisis during 60's.

What's rise up, will come down, natural law. So be contented that West have enjoyed so much in last 200yrs with looted wealth.

Posted by: DrTT | May 20 2018 16:56 utc | 96

Thanks, vbo @90 for your perspective on "old" Europe. Not having been there, I nonetheless get the same sense you report. A Europe, already reeling from years of "austerity" cuts suffered the 2008 economic crash (really the greatest redistribution of wealth in modern times), from which it has not recovered anymore than the USofA did. That is, the rich have grown richer while real income and wealth of the working classes has stagnated or dropped.

Then, add in millions of desperate refugees fleeing our Global War OF Terror and rapacious neoliberal economic plundering, and it has looked to me like TPTSB are deliberately tearing those countries apart.

In today's "globalization," where goods and capital can move freely, we Westerners are the "spoiled" brats who expect such "luxuries" as food, shelter, medical care and an endless stream of toys which modern, scientific marketing has us salivating for.

Cheaper labor can and do replace us. Markets in Asia and the Global South are hungry for things we already have, and so are only buying in limited amounts as dictated by planned obsolescence and "fashion."

And they will do our jobs for far less remuneration than we Westerners believe we deserve.

Are we are obsolete and expendable in the eyes of TPTSB? If so, what plans do the psychopaths/sociopaths that make such decisions have in mind?

Posted by: Daniel | May 20 2018 22:15 utc | 97

According to US economist, Michael Hudson, the title of Trump's book "The Art of The Deal" is misconceived. It should have been, "The Art Of Breaking The Deal," because that is how he made his fortune. We have had a taste of Trump in Scotland, where I live,...with his golf courses. He is a profoundly damaged personality who has never stood on his own two feet without receiving a lot of help and support from others. Such people live in fear and terror of the day their invented tough-guy corporate personas desert them.

Posted by: James Graham | May 21 2018 7:03 utc | 98

- Trump & his buddies want to kill a "North Korea" deal ?

Posted by: Willy2 | May 23 2018 16:27 utc | 99

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