Kim Jong-un’s Peace Gambit

t appears that the outreach to South Korea by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, which began in the lead-up to and during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, did not end with the Olympics closing ceremony. Kim Jong-un has just hosted talks with a high-level delegation from South Korea, led by its national security director Chung Eui-yong. The South Korean delegation came away believing that these talks have borne some fruit. A possible summit meeting between Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in was discussed, which could occur in late April at the so-called Peace House, which is located on the South Korean side of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone. In the meantime, the two Koreas have reportedly agreed to set up a telephone hotline between the leaders of both countries.

The South Koreans also indicated that North Korea would agree to halt tests of its nuclear weapons and missiles in conjunction with opening talks with the United States on the denuclearization issue. According to Chung Eui-yong, the North Koreans are looking for a credible security guarantee and the end to military threats against it, in which case they believed they would not need to keep their nuclear arsenal. He claimed that North Korea was interested “in an open-ended dialogue to discuss the issue of denuclearization and to normalize relations with North Korea.” Notably, Kim Jong-un is said to have withdrawn, at least for now, his insistence that the United States and South Korea suspend their joint military exercises as a precondition to any negotiations. “Kim Jong-un simply said he could understand why the joint exercises must resume in April on the same scale as before,” Mr. Chung declared. “But he said he expected them to be readjusted if the situation on the Korean Peninsula stabilizes in the future.”

via Kim Jong-un’s Peace Gambit

Leftist Media Fawns Over North Korean Dictator’s Sister

Move over, Oprah Winfrey, the leftist media has found a new heroine to lionize. Her name is Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean “Rocket Man” dictator Kim Jong-un. Kim Yo-jong is her brother’s close adviser and has a lofty title: Deputy Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers’ Party.

The establishment media has been fawning all over the dictator’s sister ever since she arrived at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. In doing so, they have shamelessly assisted the key purpose of her attendance at the Winter Olympics: to drive a wedge in the U.S.-South Korean alliance with her charm offensive. Kim Yo-jong’s soft smiles for the cameras were enough for the media to put on their rose-colored glasses when viewing a propagandist who has helped cover up or rationalize the starvation, executions, torture, militarization and reckless nuclear threats that are the trademarks of her brother’s vicious regime.

Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, was present at the opening of the Winter Olympics, making a statement that the United States would not allow North Korea to “hijack the Olympics . . . in terms of optics and messaging.” Though sitting close to Kim Yo-jong, Pence made sure to ignore her.

via Leftist Media Fawns Over North Korean Dictator’s Sister

Donald Trump Announces New Economic Sanctions on North Korea

(NEW YORK) — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday aiming to tighten an economic noose around North Korea, days after he threatened to “totally destroy” the country if forced to defend the United States or its allies.

The new order enables the U.S. to sanction individual companies and institutions that finance trade with North Korea. It adds to U.S.-led international pressure against Kim Jong Un’s expanded missile and nuclear testing program that has stoked fears of nuclear war and dominated the president’s debut at this week’s U.N. General Assembly.

The announcement came as Trump met in New York with leaders from close U.S. allies South Korea and Japan, the nations most imperiled by North Korea’s threats.

Trump said the order would also disrupt other trade avenues for North Korea in an effort to halt its nuclear weapons program. The president said “tolerance for this disgraceful practice must end now.”

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FDR’s ‘Rattlesnake’ Rule and the North Korean Threat

“When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck before you crush him.” By these words in a Sept. 11, 1941, fireside chat, Franklin Roosevelt authorized US warships to fire first against Nazi naval vessels, which he called “the rattlesnakes of the Atlantic.”

Roosevelt’s order applied whenever German or Italian ships entered “waters of self-defense” necessary to protect the US, including those surrounding US outposts on Greenland and Iceland.

Uttered 60 years to the day before 9/11, and less than three months before Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt’s words still resonate. North Korea’s sixth nuclear test last weekend, along with its significantly increased ballistic-missile testing, establishes that Pyongyang is perilously close to being able to hit targets across the continental United States with nuclear warheads, perhaps thermonuclear ones.

The Nazi threat to US shipping, both normal commercial traffic and war supplies destined for Great Britain, was undeniably significant, and the Axis powers’ broader totalitarian threat was existential. Nonetheless, right up to Dec. 7, 1941, many American leaders urged caution to avoid provoking the Axis and thereby risking broader conflict. Pearl Harbor followed.

In his chat, Roosevelt observed that others had “refused to look the Nazi danger squarely in the eye until it actually had them by the throat.” We shouldn’t commit that mistake today. North Korea’s behavior, and its lasting desire to conquer the South, have created the present crisis.

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Khomeini or Kim? Khamenei’s Real Teacher

According to the initial narrative of the Khomeinist ideology, the “perfect state” which Muslims should aspire to was the brief period during which Ali Ibn Abi-Taleb exercised the Caliphate against a background of revolts and civil war. However, it now seems that Khomeinist zealots have found another “ideal model” outside the world of Islam.

That model is the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, better known as North Korea, which Khomeinists present as living paragon of heroic resistance against the American “Great Satan.” The daily Kayhan, believed to reflect the views of “Supreme Guide” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, recently ran editorials praising North Korea’s “brave defiance of Arrogance” by testing long-range missiles in the face of “cowardly threats” by the United States. In one editorial last month, the paper invited those who urge dialogue with the US to learn from North Korea’s “success in humiliating the Great Satan.”

The editorial provoked some critical responses from the “reformist” wing of the ruling clique with President Hassan Rouhani’s unofficial spokesman expressing regret that Iran was being asked to downgrade to the level of “a pariah in a remote corner of Asia.”

Nevertheless, last month North Korea’s nominal “president” Kim Yong Nam whose official title is Chairman of the People’s Assembly was given red carpet treatment during a 10-day visit to Tehran at the head a 30-man military and political delegation. He was granted a rare two-hours long audience with Khamenei. During his stay, he inaugurated North Korea’s new embassy which includes an expanded military cooperation section.

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The Military Options for North Korea

North Korea test-launched on Friday its first ballistic missile potentially capable of hitting America’s East Coast. It thereby proved the failure of 25 years of U.S. nonproliferation policy. A single-minded rogue state can pocket diplomatic concessions and withstand sustained economic sanctions to build deliverable nuclear weapons. It is past time for Washington to bury this ineffective “carrots and sticks” approach.

America’s policy makers, especially those who still support the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, should take careful note. If Tehran’s long collusion with Pyongyang on ballistic missiles is even partly mirrored in the nuclear field, the Iranian threat is nearly as imminent as North Korea’s. Whatever the extent of their collaboration thus far, Iran could undoubtedly use its now-unfrozen assets and cash from oil-investment deals to buy nuclear hardware from North Korea, one of the world’s poorest nations.

One lesson from Pyongyang’s steady nuclear ascent is to avoid making the same mistake with other proliferators, who are carefully studying its successes. Statecraft should mean grasping the implications of incipient threats and resolving them before they become manifest. With North Korea and Iran, the U.S. has effectively done the opposite. Proliferators happily exploit America’s weakness and its short attention span. They exploit negotiations to gain the most precious asset: time to resolve the complex scientific and technological hurdles to making deliverable nuclear weapons.

Now that North Korea possesses them, the U.S. has few realistic options. More talks and sanctions will fail as they have for 25 years. I have argued previously that the only durable diplomatic solution is to persuade China that reunifying the two Koreas is in its national interest as well as America’s, thus ending the nuclear threat by ending the bizarre North Korean regime. Although the negotiations would be arduous and should have commenced years ago, American determination could still yield results.

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North Korea: Sanctions Are Not Enough

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Will new economic sanctions against North Korea convince it to give up its nuclear and missile capabilities? No, they won’t. The US and its allies must evaluate whether the goals of new sanctions are feasible, how effective they can be, and whether they will be fully implemented. Without analyzing these parameters, new sanctions will be just more diplomatic kabuki that fails to change North Korean policy.   

Students of international relations and international political economy study the effectiveness of economic sanctions on state policies. They learn how economic sanctions can force regimes to change policy, as occurred in South Africa, Libya, and even Iran in the case of the nuclear agreement.

The logic of economic sanctions is very simple. The high cost of sanctions on a state will convince its regime to change policy, as the price tag of maintaining its policy is too high. In some cases, the cost of sanctions might be increased to convince a regime to hasten a change in policy.

While in the South African, Libyan, and Iranian cases, sanctions did lead to a decline in the states’ GDPs and subsequent policy changes, in the North Korean case, Pyongyang has not changed its nuclear and missile policies. According to new data, the North Korean economy has in fact developed over the past few months despite international economic sanctions.

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