Category Archives: N Korea

Is Trump Really Ready to Negotiate?

You- and Trump -may not like history, but there it is.
5/3/2018 WSJ. By Jay Winik

How risky is the proposed summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un? As America’s greatest modern presidents have found, summitry is an inherently high-stakes gamble. No matter how well scripted, events can take on a life of their own—or go dangerously awry. In negotiations, Mr. Trump is known for making snap decisions that amount to seismic policy shifts. It’s unclear whether this unpredictability would work in Washington’s favor or Pyongyang’s. Worse still, could a failed summit chill relations, or even propel the two sides to arms? If Mr. Trump looks to history, he will find it instructive. High-profile summits involve protocol and posturing, but they also invariably have epic, if not unexpected, consequences. Consider the Yalta Conference, the meeting of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin in the waning days of World War II. Churchill had a fever of 102, while Roosevelt’s health had failed so dramatically that onlookers gave the president “six months to live.”

The summit sprawled over eight days, replete with morning meetings among various ministers and military chiefs, afternoon meetings of the big three leaders, and private discussions over meals. Roosevelt tried to improvise, but his legendary diplomatic skills failed him. At one point he gave a nearly incoherent speech about the Germany he had known as a boy, which bore no resemblance to Hitler’s Third Reich. FDR had not read his briefing books “as much as he should have,” one State Department adviser later recalled. Instead the president had naively believed his personality would win over Stalin.

Yalta produced major agreements for the eventual four-way occupation of Berlin, German reparations for the Soviets, and the formation of the United Nations. But as the war’s victors divided the spoils, Roosevelt capitulated to Stalin on the pressing issue of Poland. Reluctant to court confrontation with Soviet troops on the ground, FDR acquiesced— over Churchill’s heated objections—to Stalin’s demand for a Soviet-aligned Polish government. This effectively handed the Poles from one master, the Germans, to another, the Soviets.

Roosevelt also gave in to Stalin’s demand that all the buffer nations in Eastern Europe be “friendly” toward Moscow, planting the seeds of the Cold War. FDR’s reputation has since been dogged by charges that he “sold out” to the Soviets. In truth, the U.S. had a weaker military hand in Eastern Europe. FDR had no coherent strategy for overcoming that disadvantage, and he refused to jeopardize the gains he had made elsewhere.

Things went little better in 1961, when an untested and charismatic new president, John F. Kennedy, traveled to Vienna to meet with Nikita Khrushchev. An overconfident Kennedy brazenly thought he could charm the old Soviet. He couldn’t. Instead, a well-rehearsed Khrushchev berated Kennedy with accusations that the U.S. had been supporting anti-Soviet forces in Europe and Cuba. Kennedy was put on his heels. Far from laying the groundwork for better relations, Kennedy’s uncertain performance convinced Khrushchev he could get away with placing Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba, touching off the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Kennedy, who took it personally, admitted to a reporter after the Khrushchev summit that it was the “roughest thing in my life.” He was so upset by his performance that he pounded the inside of the car door when he departed the Soviet Embassy.

Overconfidence by one side was also decisive at the 1986 meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland. For much of the decade, the American and Soviet superpowers had escalated their arms race. They came to Reykjavik for an informal prep meeting, hoping to lay the groundwork for more extensive talks in Washington.

Mr. Gorbachev shrewdly departed from the script and sought to woo Reagan with a full list of specific proposals for arms control. Reagan didn’t flinch; he and his team had come prepared. The two leaders went so far as to discuss eliminating all nuclear weapons, but then Mr. Gorbachev insisted on imposing limits on research into missile-defense technology.

Reagan refused to budge on that point. Instead he walked away from what he thought was a bad deal. Yet far from finger-pointing, he continued to have a warm relationship with Mr. Gorbachev. Critics charged the impromptu negotiations were dangerous—contemplating the elimination of nuclear weapons without adequate study. They also called the talks a failure, since no agreements were made. Reykjavik, however, set the stage for a far-reaching U.S.-Soviet arms agreement in the future, as well as the historic thawing of the Cold War.

In all this history, there are some clear lessons for Mr. Trump as he sits down with North Korea’s leader. First, always expect the unexpected. Second, resist bad deals. Third, come prepared. Trying to rely on your personality and charm to win over a malleable opponent is a recipe for disaster; it failed not only Roosevelt in Yalta, but also Kennedy in Vienna— and Mr. Gorbachev in Reykjavik. By contrast, having a broad strategy, sticking to principles, and refusing to waver from the bottom line secured Eastern Europe for Stalin, emboldened Khrushchev, and helped Reagan win the Cold War.

When assessing the hazards and opportunities, it is also crucial to consider Mr. Trump’s personality and negotiating approach. Thus far he has been sure-footed on North Korea. But along with his many strengths, he can be thin-skinned and susceptible to flattery. He makes feuds personal and sometimes promises one thing yet does another. These instincts could be counterproductive with an adversary like Mr. Kim, who is not a congressional committee chairman but the dictatorial head of a bellicose nuclear state. Mr. Trump must not lose sight of this. Kennedy effectively did with Khrushchev and paid the price. Reagan didn’t with Mr. Gorbachev and reaped the rewards.

Having rolled the dice, the president will surely make history with Mr. Kim. But whether the North Korean summit will be remembered as a breakthrough or disaster is now up to Mr. Trump.


Let Calm and Cool Trump ‘Fire and Fury’

Agree that people have not changed, even if the speed of the world has. Pres. Trump needs to PAY ATTENTION.
WSJ 8/12/2017

‘North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”— President Trump Tuesday “During the Cuban Missile Crisis we stood behind JFK. This is analogous to the Cuban Missile Crisis. We need to come together.”—Sebastian Gorka, a White House national-security aide, on “Fox & Friends,” Wednesday What is happening with North Korea is not analogous to what happened in 1962, except for the word crisis. Fifty-five years ago was a different age with vastly different players and dynamics. We all mine the past to make our points, but Mr. Gorka’s evoking of the Cuban crisis to summon political support is intellectually cheap and self-defeating.

The Soviet Union and Cuba were trying to hide what they had—offensive missiles in Cuba. Kim Jong Un enjoys showing what he has and taunting the world with it. President Kennedy gave great and grave attention to reassuring a nation and world understandably alarmed by nuclear brinkmanship. Does Mr. Trump? Not in the least.

The current crisis is Mr. Trump’s responsibility but not his fault. His three predecessors attempted, without success, to defang North Korea. How Mr. Trump handles it is his responsibility, and one hopes will not be his fault.

More now even than in 1962—especially when the central players are talking so loud and so big—a great threat is of miscalculation, of misunderstanding a signal or overreacting to some chance event or mishap.

In that area, at least, there are useful lessons to be drawn from ’62. In that crisis, Kennedy was verbally careful. He never popped off, because he knew words had power and how they will be received is not always perfectly calculable. He knew he could not use language— fire and fury— that invited thoughts of nuclear war.

He knew that precisely because you are a nuclear power, you can’t make nuclear threats. A thing too easily referred to will lose its horrifying mystique, its taboo. So don’t go there when you speak, or allow people to think you’re going there.

Kennedy tried for a kind of de-escalating clarity, except when he went for a de-escalating vagueness. He famously called his blockade of Cuba a “quarantine,” because a blockade is a military action and a quarantine is— well, whatever you think it is. He worked hard with aides on public statements, hammering out each phrase. He sometimes used dire language— we don’t want “the fruits of victory” to become “ashes in our mouths”—but he knew who he was up against, a Soviet premier whom he’d met in summit, and whose understanding of such messages could be at least roughly gauged.

In Nikita Khrushchev Mr. Kennedy was up against a rational player. America and the Soviet Union had settled into a long Cold War. Our strategy was Mutually Assured Destruction, but the reigning assumption was that neither side would deliberately launch, because we weren’t evil and they weren’t crazy.

We can’t assume that now. It is not clear Mr. Trump is up against a rational player. He must therefore ask if inflammatory language is more likely to provoke than inform.

Some thought Kennedy, at 45, too young and immature for his job, but few thought him crazy, nor was Mr. Khrushchev’s reputation that of a madman. More than half the world at this point would see Kim Jong Un as mad, and some significant number might view Mr. Trump similarly. Thus the current high anxiety, and the need from America for calm, cool logic, not emotionalism.

Many are relieved Mr. Trump is, in this crisis, surrounded by experienced and accomplished generals such as Jim Mattis, John Kelly and H.R. McMaster. Kennedy, on the other hand, viewed some of his generals as hard-liners reliving World War II, men who hadn’t come to terms with the lethal reality of the nuclear age. After a back-and-forth with Gen. Curtis LeMay, Kennedy was quoted in the Oval Office saying his generals had at least one thing going for them: “If we listen to them and do what they want us to do, none of us will be alive later to tell

them that they were wrong.” (This is from Richard Reeves’s excellent history “President Kennedy, Profile of Power.”) The general public now, however, would see Mr. Trump’s generals as the reliables, the dependables, the sophisticates of the administration. It would be good if they could become the American face—and voice— of this crisis.

Some elements that helped resolve the Cuban crisis peacefully could probably never happen now.

JFK himself called the publisher of the New York Times, the president of the Washington Post and the owner of Time magazine to request pledges of cooperation and discretion. All agreed. He filled in his Republican predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower, on the plan to blockade Cuba. “Whatever you do,” said Eisenhower, “you will have my support.”

Before his Oval Office speech announcing the blockade, JFK briefed congressional leaders of both parties with complete confidence. Military aircraft were sent for some of them. Mr. Reeves notes House Majority Whip Hale Boggs of Louisiana was fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. “A military helicopter found Boggs, dropping a note to him in a bottle. ‘Call Operator 18, Washington. Urgent message from the president.’ ” Ten days into the crisis, the president asked his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, to meet privately with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Dobrynin. The purpose was to make sure the Russians understood the gravity with which the Americans were approaching their decisions; they didn’t want the U.S. position misunderstood. Both men were tired, and Dobrynin at one point thought RFK was near tears. The U.S. military, he told the ambassador, was pressing hard to invade Cuba. The president would have to agree if Khrushchev didn’t take the missiles out now. Dobrynin said he didn’t know if the Politburo, deeply committed to its position, would back down. They were both telling the truth and lying. RFK was putting it all on the military, Dobrynin on the Politburo, but both were under pressure.

It was a private, high-stakes meeting held, successfully, in secret. Notes were not leaked.

Could any of this happen now?

Parenthetically, Dobrynin did not have a reliable telephone or telegraph connection with the Kremlin. To transmit a summary of his crucial conversation, he called Western Union. A young man, “came by on a bicycle to pick up the telegram,” Mr. Reeves recounts. “Dobrynin watched him pedal away, figuring that if he stopped for a Coca-Cola or to see his girlfriend, the world might blow up.”

Actually, it was lucky the players in the Cuban crisis lived in a slower, balkier world. They had time to think, to create strategy and response. The instantaneous world—our world—is so much more dangerous.

Lessons from the Cuban Missile Crisis? Crises have a million moving pieces and need a central shepherd to keep track of them, to keep a government focused. Real-time decisions made under pressure need to be not only logical but logically defensible. And it’s wise to keep the temperature as low as possible, especially when things turn hot.

The Cuban Missile Crisis came at a less dangerous time, and involved less dangerous men.


From the North Korean state news agency KCNA

In case you missed this tid-bit…
WSJ 4/4/2017

Days ago, the U.S. newspaper Wall Street Journal of the right conservative forces hurled mud at the DPRK again.

The March 27th issue of the paper let out such flurry of nonsense that the U.S. should set a regime change in the DPRK as a clear-cut policy target. . . . For the DPRK this sounds as nothing but a scream made by those frightened by the invincible might of the DPRK. . . .

The Wall Street Journal would be well advised to halt its foolish propaganda to hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK and think about when or how the U.S. may disappear from the surface of the earth.


Silicon Valley Takes on North Korea

Interesting. I’d bet this group will make more progress than any government effort.
Silicon Valley’s ambitions range far and wide, from taking on hotels and taxi operators to connecting toothbrushes to the Internet.

Now, it’s starting to turn its focus to North Korea.

Over the weekend, about 100 hackers, coders and engineers gathered in San Francisco to brainstorm ways to pierce the information divide that separates North Korea from the rest of the world.

The event, dubbed “Hack North Korea” by organizers at the Human Rights Foundation, is part of a broader effort to channel the wealth, ambition and know-how of Silicon Valley to address difficult real-world problems — and few topics are knottier than North Korea.

The Human Rights Foundation hackathon follows a balloon launch earlier this year that brought democracy leaflets, South Korean soap operas on DVD and USB drives loaded with the Korean Wikipedia over the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas.

During the two-day “Hack North Korea” event, the participants were briefed by defectors on the situation in the country. They then pitched ideas for ways to use technology to get information into the country, and broke into groups to turn those ideas into rough prototypes.

“These are people who don’t usually think about human rights or North Korea, and I think they learned a lot,” said Alex Gladstein, director of institutional affairs for the Human Rights Foundation. The session wrapped up on Sunday like most Silicon Valley hackathons, with four-minute presentations before a panel of six judges — three judges from the West, three from North Korea.

The winning team, which featured a pair of teenage siblings who flew in from Virginia for the event, presented a prototype of a system that could allow North Koreans to get real-time information more easily inside the country, Mr. Gladstein said.

The team proposed using micro-radio devices the size of credit cards, which they said could pick up signals from the South and which could be delivered into the country by smuggling or balloon drop.

Alongside this, the team would target South Korean satellite television broadcasts aimed at China, which pass over the North. Using what they described as “easily concealable” satellite receivers, North Koreans would be able to directly plug their televisions into the receivers.

For their efforts, the winning team won a trip to South Korea to meet with defectors and try and turn their idea into a reality. In recent years, groups like the Human Rights Foundation have been courting Silicon Valley as a source of funds and ideas. Google founder Sergey Brin and his wife Anne Wojcicki, as well as Peter Thiel, are major donors to the non-profit.

The foundation’s current North Korea campaign is being funded by Alexander Lloyd, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist. Mr. Lloyd has said he first got interested in the country after hearing defector Hyeonseo Lee tell the story of her escape from North Korea in a widely-viewed TED talk last year.

Of course, North Korea is no stranger to cyber warfare. It has its own legions of computer-savvy hackers, who have been fingered in a number of attacks on the South, though the North has denied involvement.

In June, a Seoul-based defector group said that Pyongyang had issued an order signed by the country’s leader Kim Jong Un to insulate the country from the South’s cyberattacks.

Silicon Valley Takes on North Korea – Digits – WSJ.