What North Korea really wants
The USA lives under an ever bigger nuclear threat from North Korea.
In March 2018 Trump met in Singapore with North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un.
I wrote at the time that i considered it
the Greatest Humiliation in US History.
Never had a US president lowered himself that much. Previous presidents certainly met brutal dictators, including Mao and the Saudi kings, but never had they
gifted so much pomp and world publicity to a dictator of such a small failed country.
In retrospect, i can see that Trump's utter ignorance of world affairs may have
played a role. North Korea probably offered Trump the same deal that it has
been offering to the USA since 1992: "complete denuclearization of the Korean
peninsula". Trump, unaware of what that expression means for North Korea,
assumed that it meant "complete denuclearization of North Korean" and rushed
to get what he thought would be a big trophy, a trophy that had escaped all
his predecessors. It turns out that North Korea meant in Singapore what it
has always meant: first the USA pulls out all of its troops and weapons from
the Korean peninsula and nearby sea, signs a peace treaty with North Korea,
terminates its defense treaty with South Korea, and removes the missiles
deployed in Japan; and then North Korea maybe will denuclearize".
In my opinion, North Korea wants to become a world power. If it ever finds a
US president so naive (or so broke) to accept this deal, North Korea will
automatically be in a position to invade South Korea in a few days and even
Japan after a few weeks of limited warfare. Both South Korea and Japan have
a small army made of poorly trained soldiers and using rather ineffective
weapons. They are in no position to halt an attack from the well-trained
North Korean army. Imagine if North Korea annexes South Korea and Japan:
it would be a nuclear power with a GDP comparable to China.
Kim found in Trump the dumb and gullible president that North Korea has been
To start with, Kim got something very valuable from Trump: recognition.
Trump made such a big deal of the Singapore meeting that the whole world
was impressed by Kim, and his status at home was greatly enhanced. Neither his
father nor his grandfather even achieved anything like this.
Second, Kim got something also valuable from Trump: a unilateral US decision
to stop the military exercises with South Korea, something that North Korea
had always demanded. This greatly increases the chances that North Korea
wins a conventional invasion of the south.
Third, Kim even got Trump the dotard to state publicly that he wants to
withdraw all US military forces from South Korea, i.e. to abandon South Korea
and Japan to their destiny.
Fourth, Kim got Trump to do something truly "un-American".
Trump, who has always been indifferent to human rights, is the first president
who didn't protest at all with North Korea for its prison camps, for kidnapping
Japanese citizens, for assassinating people around the world including
Kim's uncle and Kim's own brother. Trump didn't even complain with Kim that
North Korea tortured a US citizen, Otto Warmbier, who then died just nine
months before the Singapore meeting. I guess from Trump's point of view,
torture and murder are not big deals. He has in fact never complained about
them. For example, he almost congratulated Saudi Arabia when Saudi agents
killed a Washington Post journalist and then sawed his body to pieces.
The humiliation of the USA continued in the following weeks. When Trump's
pathetic secertary of state, Mike Pompeo, a man who couldn't teach history
in an elementary school, traveled to North Korea, Kim refused to meet with
him. Then evidence surfaced that North Korea was continuing its production
of nuclear weapons fuel and was continuing work at its main missile site
(and it has possible opened a second missile site).
It became obvious to all observers that Trump gave a lot to Kim and Kim gave
absolutely nothing to Trump.
In February 2019 Trump met again with Kim (in Vietnam) and this time he may
have understood what North Korea wants: it wants the USA to get out of the
region before it makes any concessions on nuclear weapons or missiles.
Short-term it is only willing to make verbal concessions in exchange for
the USA to remove sanctions. Kim wants to deliver a better economy to
North Korea to consolidate his power which now relies only on having
achieved nuclear status and having received recognition from the US president.
It would be irrational for North Korea's dictator to surrender his nuclear
weapons. The USA has proven over and again what happens to enemies who
surrender their weapons of mass destruction: Saddam Hussein was overthrown
and eventually hanged, Qaddafi was overthrown and eventually shot dead,
and Iran is being treated like a terrorist state. Iran, in particular,
is a good lesson for North Korea. Iran's regime is far less brutal than
North Korea's regime but North Korea is being treated a lot better by the
USA. The reason is obvious: Iran stopped short of building nuclear weapons
whereas North Korea actually built them.
Given so many history lessons, only a madman would surrender his weapons
of mass destruction. And, by the way, Trump never even mentioned that
North Korea also possesses chemical and biological weapons.
Without these weapons, North Korea would be an easy target for regime change
just like it happened in Iraq and Libya (and almost in Syria).
Another lesson came from Pakistan, a country that defied the international
community when it detonated its first nuclear weapons, but it has never been
punished and in fact became much more credible on the international scene.
There are also domestic reasons that make it would be difficult for Kim to
surrender his nuclear weapons: his people are brainwashed but not stupid, and
over the years he has justified their sacrifices with the goal of becoming
a world power. His people view the nuclear weapons as a collective achievement
not just his personal toys.
Now it is not clear what the USA can do. North Korea is a direct nuclear threat
to US forces in the Pacific and potentially to Alaska and California.
It is certainly working on longer range missiles that can strike the heart
of the USA. The most likely agreement will be a face-saving agreement for
Trump that North Korea will pledge to stop testing new missiles in return
for the removal of the sanctions that really hurt. This would be a colossal
win for Kim and would probably save Trump's reputation with his most fanatical
base (especially if adequately supported by his Fox News cronies).
Unfortunately, the USA is in no position to leave the negotiations without
a deal: a North Korea still under sanctions from the USA and hungry for cash
may sell nuclear fuel to other countries or terrorist groups.
The USA will de facto accept that North Korea is a nuclear power with missiles
that can strike the USA, and simply hope that North Korea will be happy with
that unofficial recognition.
But the price will be to help the North Korean economy develop, thus
further strengthening Kim's power and with the risk that some of the money
will fund more technology for better missiles.
It is not only Trump's fault, of course. His predecessors did nothing to
prevent the problem from getting out of control. Trump made a fool of himself,
that's all. He further reduced the USA's credibility in the region.
TM, ®, Copyright © 2019 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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