PATRICK LAWRENCE: It Was Kim That Walked Away

There are two sides to the story about why the second North Korea peace summit fell apart last week, writes Patrick Lawrence.

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News

The abrupt and unexpected failure of the second Trump–Kim summit last week raises many questions. Let’s get one out of the way before addressing the others: No, the collapse of talks between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, does not scuttle the most promising chance for peace on the Korean Peninsula since the 1953 signing of the armistice ending the Korean War. There is more to come. This was plain within hours of the summit’s end.

At this point it’s still difficult to discern even what transpired between the two leaders. The U.S. and North Korean accounts of the proceedings in Hanoi are widely at variance on key points. With history in view, it is very likely that the North Korean version comes closer to the truth than what the Trump administration is putting out and what the U.S. press is dutifully reporting.

Trump and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo holds news conference after summit JW Marriott Hotel, Feb. 28, 2019, in Hanoi. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

Trump and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hold news conference after summit on Feb. 28, 2019, in Hanoi. (White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

By Trump’s account, Kim agreed to dismantle his most important nuclear production facility, at Yongbyon, roughly 60 miles north of Pyongyang. In exchange, Kim asked for all sanctions now in force against North Korea—some passed at the UN, others imposed by Washington alone—to be lifted.

Here is Trump talking to correspondents after the bust-up Thursday morning:

 “Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that. They were willing to de-nuke a large portion of the areas that we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all the sanctions for that…. They wanted sanctions lifted but they weren’t willing to do an area we wanted.”

The “large portion” Trump mentioned is Yongbyon: There is no dispute about this. Pyongyang has shut down the reactor at Yongbyon twice in the past, in 1994 and in 2007. In 2008 Kim Jong-il, the reigning Kim’s father, ordered the cooling tower at Yongbyon demolished—a televised event many readers will remember. The site was reactivated in succeeding years following a series of multi-sided talks that went nowhere. 

Kangson Facility

The “area we wanted” appears to refer to an alleged nuclear facility  at Kangson, also near the North Korean capital. What the North actually does at Kangson has never been verified, but it was one of a number of sites the U.S. side also insisted Pyongyang close.

Translation of the U.S. version of events in Hanoi: Kim offered us only one item on our list while demanding we give him everything he wanted. Who could possibly agree to such a deal?

North Korean officials tell a different story. After Trump offered his post-summit description of events, the North’s foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, gave his own press conference; a rarity among North Korean officials. Kim had agreed to shutter the North’s main nuclear facility, by Ri’s account, if the U.S. consented to lift only the five sets of sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council in 2016 and 2017.

Unlike restrictions on weapons and nuclear-related equipment, these covered entire export sectors, including minerals, metals, coal, agriculture and seafood. These, Ri said, were the measures that directly hurt the lives and livelihoods of ordinary North Koreans. Layer upon layer of other sanctions would remain in effect.  

What’s Wrong? 

Translation of the North Korean position in Hanoi: We will take a considerable step toward denuclearization providing you take one of corresponding magnitude. Now the question changes: What exactly is wrong with such a deal?

You have to go back to Trump’s early months in office to understand what appears to have transpired in Hanoi. The administration’s initial position was simple but ridiculous: The North had to completely disarm before Washington would even begin talks.

Trump leaving second summit with Kim Jong Un, Feb. 28, 2019, at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi. (White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Trump leaving second summit with Kim Jong Un, Feb. 28, 2019, at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi. (White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Only when the absurdity of this maximalist demand became too obvious to sustain—”give us everything we will negotiate before we negotiate”—did the Trump administration alter its demands, if reluctantly and slightly.

Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s president, countered this as soon as Trump agreed last year to meet Kim, as they did in Singapore last June. The way ahead was “action for action,” in Moon’s phrase. Pyongyang’s term for the same thing is “corresponding measures.” Elsewhere the concept is called “sequencing.” Whatever one calls it, a gradual, step-by-step process is the only logical way forward after nearly seven decades of mutual distrust.

Trump’s Refusal

In effect, Kim proposed a sequenced approach when he met Trump last week. And in effect, Trump refused it. It is no wonder John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser and the administration’s hyper-hawk on North Korea, has been assuring like-minded colleagues not to fret about the Trump-Kim summits because they are guaranteed to fail.

“This kind of opportunity may never come again,” Ri, the North’s foreign minister, said at his late-night press conference. This is not where the odds lie. 

First, Moon Jae-in pledged to help mediate between the North and the U.S. as soon as the Hanoi summit collapsed. And it has been clear since Moon was elected South Korea’s president in May 2017 that control of the agenda on the Korean Peninsula has gradually passed from the U.S. to Seoul and those working with it, notably China and Russia.

Second, Moon enjoys a trustful rapport with Kim. And the latter is unquestionably serious about shifting the North’s priorities from nuclear capability to economic development. Kim wants a deal, in short.

The primary danger to future advances toward a lasting settlement in Northeast Asia lies in Washington. It has been the spoiler on the Korean question before, let us not forget. In the early 2000s, the U.S. never delivered two light-water reactors it had promised the North in exchange for its cessation of its nuclear program. After Yongbyon was shuttered in 2007, the U.S. failed to supply promised shipments of heating fuel, citing “an understanding between the parties” about which neither China nor Russia, who were also signatories to the agreement, had ever heard.

This time around, there is little question that Bolton and other hawks in the Trump administration intend to block progress as long as they can. They have just succeeded in scuttling Moon’s long-gestating plans to develop a series of cross-border economic projects. The South Korean leader had hoped that a planned communiqué to be issued at the summit’s end in Hanoi would have opened the way for these ventures to proceed. Trump and Kim never signed it.

 “We had to walk away,” Trump said at his press conference in the Vietnamese capital. It is more likely that Kim is the one who walked away first.

“It occurs to us that there may not be a need to continue,” Choe Son-hui, Kim’s vice-foreign minister, said later. “We’re doing a lot of thinking.” It is difficult to blame Pyongyang for this, given the outcome in Hanoi. 

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author, and lecturer. His most recent book is “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century” (Yale). Follow him @thefloutist. His web site is www.patricklawrence.us. Support his work via www.patreon.com/thefloutist.

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40 comments for “PATRICK LAWRENCE: It Was Kim That Walked Away

  1. John
    March 16, 2019 at 14:03

    I think that the CIA breaking into the NK embassy in Spain and holding the embassy staff hostage may have been a factor too, but news if that had not yet come out…

  2. March 11, 2019 at 13:15

    Glad the summit ended fast. The best thing for Korea right now is to get off the radar so that the north and south can work on re-unification.

    Funny how no one in the USA ever asks the question: What the hell right do WE have to tell KOREANS how to run their own country?

    • OlyaPola
      March 12, 2019 at 11:29

      “Funny how no one in the USA ever asks the question: What the hell right do WE have to tell KOREANS how to run their own country?”

      Very useful as the self-absorption and hubris of opponents often are.

      Some say that in the presence of striptease the wise observe the audience not the stripper, where as others watch the stripper thereby becoming the audience.

  3. tjoe
    March 7, 2019 at 22:34

    I got kicked off RT for saying that I would give 50/1 odds that trump would accomplish nothing on the first summit and then said it “looks like I won”…..really….RT cited that as a reason to ban me from comments (apparently permanently), much like Consortium News. I’ve long ago forgot what CN banned me for however. Of course I have no real expectation this will be posted….censorship seems to rule the world and CN is no exception.

  4. Ghost ship
    March 7, 2019 at 06:46

    Trump’s problem with North Korea is not the North or South Koreans or the other international players such as China, Japan, Russia but the Washington Establishment including the MIC. Coming back from Hanoi with a peace treaty would have been regarded as Trump’s Munich Moment, but pushing it out to after a number of other Kim-Trump Summits gives him the chance of having his efforts accepted by the Washington Establishment. Trump certainly understands TV reality shows and this is theatre like a TV reality show.

    • OlyaPola
      March 9, 2019 at 13:14

      “Trump certainly understands TV reality shows and this is theatre like a TV reality show.”

      Analysis suggests that Mr. Trump has a deteriorating “knowledge” of certain audiences of reality shows in certain locations.

      All shows are “reality” shows, “reality” being a function of the interaction of all facilitating what you see is what you get encouraging outcomes of what you get is what you don’t see .

      The opponents consistently project notions and hence often reflect the view that “Trump certainly understands TV reality shows and this is theatre like a TV reality show” and that the benefits of “dumbing down” accrue solely to them.

  5. bob
    March 7, 2019 at 04:14

    don’t ya just get fed up with the americans wanting to tell everybody else how to live – get america out of ALL our lives

    • March 11, 2019 at 13:16

      Couldn’t have summarized sanity more. EXACTLY.

  6. elmerfudzie
    March 6, 2019 at 18:25

    The western world has yet to face and respond to the facts as they are. The U.S of A. should do more than just walk away from talks with Kim Jong Un. We must walk off the world stage in the far east, entirely. The North Korean people, their future, are now in the hands of the Japanese Diet and Shinzo Abe, to a lesser extent, the South Koreans. The mere threat(s) to annihilate Tokyo with an EMP burst or nuclear incineration, reminds us of Ronald Reagan’s’ famous quip, and it constitutes “the first warning shot”. CONSORTIUMNEWS readers, take note that should Tokyo fall, all the Dragon Economies would be severely, perhaps irreversibly be crippled or collapse altogether. Trump could have emphasized that, in the crudest sense, the Koreans are “cousins” to the Japanese, in fellowship as Asian peoples. In summary, the problem now rests with the (3rd) greatest economic and democratic power and in that part of the world, Japan. Our POTUS should have requested, audience to speak, face to face, with the Japanese Diet (not just a burger lunch with the Prime Minister)… An open and public announcement, that all our logistical, top secret satellite, submarine and surface ships will be at their disposal. A blanket Presidential Order, to our Pacific ship Captains and rank Admirals that, if a request is made by the Japanese government, a select group of their naval and air force personnel will be boarding our military vessels or aircraft, (temporarily) given full command. This time, it will be their hand, their specific orders, would decide the fate of the North Koreans. Trump could have explained that our nation has a permanent stain on it’s history, regarding the slaughter of both Japanese and Korean civilians. Because of this fact, now is the time for Mr Abe and the Diet to assume their place and their authority in the region. Trump would hand the proverbial “keys” over to Shinzo Abe. This action is a very important, initial gesture, the first of many such dis associations, in the near future, gradually relinquishing our responsibilities within the Pacific Naval Command, passing this authority over to Japan. China, Russia and Europe’s NATO forces must somehow come to realize, that any billionaire, joined at the hip with unparalleled totalitarianism does not constitute a true sovereign state. North Korea is a gangster land and I dare say that, had Stalin been alive today, he’d be very impressed with the supreme cultural, political, and military control, as well as generalized regimentation, over every citizen of North Korea.

    The suggestion here is quite simple, nuclear proliferation must Not be left to future generations. It be dealt with now and North Korea, sadly, will be a reminder to all future nuclear wannabees that being a tyrant, billionaire, with a private police force, does not give you the privilege (not a right) to keep nukes in the basement of your castle.

    The western Occident Intel community has failed miserably, to stop the atomic genie from entering Israel and Pakistan, that fact unfortunately cannot be undone. However, ask yourselves a question, can the world carry all the new antagonisms and or threats of, two, three or four new “Israels or Pakistan(s) appearing? If the west increased the number of Foreign Service personnel to ten thousand and deployed them across the globe, would they be capable of stopping Armageddon? I think not ! Speaking here as a middle of the road conservative, I’m not one who enjoys armchair battles. There’s a time for peace and a time for war, we all know or can at least recall the tune circa 1965, to Everything, there is a season, turn turn,, a time to die, a time to plant, a time to reap a time to kill… Living on the west coast of the USA, I’m not looking forward to the possibility of high radiation levels or sucking up fission products down my nose (as we did during the Fukushima disaster) . It’s my skin in this game alright, and it’s your skin too or will you just pawn off the problem to your grandchildren?

    • John
      March 16, 2019 at 13:52

      Why should Japan, rather than the Koreans, decide who rules Korea.

      For an American today to point fingers elsewhere and call the government there a gangster government run by a billionaire who essentially has his own police force, is this not the epitome of the pot and kettle?

      Why be worried about a country that has never used nukes, when a country you actually (in theory) have a democratic voice in, which has used nukes, has more than anyone else?

      It is interesting that you self-identify as conservative, because the conservative mindset is largely characterized by a complete inability to engage in even the most minor forms of self-reflection. Here, you provide a textbook example.

      • elmerfudzie
        March 18, 2019 at 08:50

        In response to your comments, John, from elmerfudzie. My definition of conservatism is well known and defined as; any system that welcomes tradition (artistic, linguistic and so on), supports hierarchy, authority and the preservation of property rights. This authority is strongly influenced by religious, commercial, institutions and they in turn interact with a democratic, parliamentary government. All these elements move in concert to preserve social stability and continuity. That said, there are very important military and economic considerations built into my comments regarding Japan and Tokyo. Some modern day mega-cities such as Tokyo, Beijing, Moscow, London, New York City, Brussels, Abu Dhabi, are concentrations of almost irreplaceable infrastructures relating to government, technocracy, technology, maritime, and or large financial institutions. They all constitute examples of “critical infrastructure” directly tied to preserving every day global commerce.

        Although I sympathize with the concept of national sovereignty and associated rights, these dogmatic beliefs cannot resolve the two Korea’s crisis. In general, globalism has forced upon the world, an agglomeration and concentration(s) of economic power, that does not respect traditional borders. In short, the Tiger Club (Dragon) and Western economies cannot absorb the destruction of Tokyo or any of the other major cities I’ve mentioned herein (and a few I have not). In point of fact, their respective governments would collapse, overnight, should any such mega-city suffer a nuclear (this includes EMP), biological or major conventional warfare attack.

        Your other commentaries are not worthy of my response. Suffice it to say that, the manufacture, management and use of nuclear technology as well as weaponry are, in this brave new world environment, a privilege and not a right. It is a privilege earned, and certainly not earned by launching, unannounced three stage rockets towards Tokyo !

  7. March 6, 2019 at 13:03

    Why even call it negotiations. Washington demands everything and does not budge an inch on sanctions. in other words, North Korea is required to turn the exposed throat to the USA while recieving nothing in return. Thats not negotiating. When will Washington realize that North Korea is not going to go on bended knee to any meeting with the US.

    from my point of view, why is the world going along with the US demands on that country?

  8. hetro
    March 5, 2019 at 13:56

    The problem reads: “There is a problem with this website’s security certificate” with URL highlighted in red.

  9. MichaelWme
    March 5, 2019 at 13:25

    The Deal Trump offered Kim was exactly the same as the deal Clinton, Bush, Jr., and Obama offered, and not just to Kim, but to Saddam, Muammar, and Ayatollah Khamenei: remove all your WMD with UN inspections, the US promises no regime change, an end to all sanctions, and investment to make your country progress rapidly economically. The US always tells the truth, so no sanctions were lifted, and Iraq and Libya were both transformed into democratic, peaceful and prosperous paradises, freed from the regimes of Saddam and Muammar. If Kim gets rid of all his WMD, the US promises heavy investment in a unified Korea under a suitable leader like Park with Kim and all his cronies removed, and US military bases with nukes all along the Yalu and Tumen Rivers. It’s very hard for any American to understand why Kim has not accepted this generous offer.

    • March 11, 2019 at 13:18

      Ah! So true! What paradises on earth the US MIC has created wherever it goes: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria. All a now basking in the America Vallhalla!

  10. hetro
    March 5, 2019 at 13:13

    What we don’t know is the amount of leverage the US has over Moon. His recent giving in to nearly a billion in costs for the South Korean base workers is widely disapproved of in South Korea. The boiling cauldron of 70 plus years of US intimidation, suppression, and support of dictators in the South is a factor never mentioned (one I have personal experience with from living there). Outrages at Kyongju and Chejudo Island have not been forgotten. US troops regularly misbehave and are lightly disciplined.

    The resentments of South Koreans are similar to those of Okinawans at this time over a new air base on that island, again a place with a history of seething resentments. So Moon has a tough part to play. If he could be removed somehow through US pressures, his part is even tougher when, clearly, very clearly, what Korea as a whole wants is reunification and to get rid of the American bases and American influence.

    But the neocon playbook a la Clinton mentioned below is a rigid “rule” in terms of global dominance, now even at an outrageous flagrant level as we see in Venezuela. Bolton et al have no intention whatever of a) getting a deal in North Korea b) removing the troops from the South. Any look at neocon behavior of the past decades shows this to be the case. It is interesting that the Koreans have not talked about removing the bases. They know it’s a non-starter. But as with Manila early in the 90’s the question is what if the South’s government ordered their removal? What would be the US response, as asked by a reader below. I suspect it’s the power to remove the leader in South Korea and replace that person with a puppet.

    What might happen, then, is a long game, in which both Koreas play along as though somewhat docile now for the next year or two until either Moon or a new leader is strong enough to defy the US. Or a new US government, perhaps one more inclined toward peace, if that were possible (as with a Sanders win in 2020) emerges. That may be worth waiting for, with more of these bullshit summits to put up with as part of the long game required.

    I thought the photo imagery of Kim and Trump very interesting of the last summit. To me, they tell me Kim was not fooled one whit by Trump; and Trump was upset because he’d been seen through as the dummy doing what he’s told by Bolton.

    PS: Today in checking in to CN I get a dire warning the website is “not verifiable” or some such nonsense. What’s up with this?

    • vinnieoh
      March 6, 2019 at 09:33

      I got the same message yesterday, but today the site came up. There are many possibilities: because this site posts real reporting that is contrary to interests of both the faux left and right, there are many actors actively trying to disrupt it; or, alternatively, CN is operating on the thinnest of shoestrings and really hasn’t stayed up to date with the fast moving IT landscape. I don’t know. What I do know is how upset I was at the thought that CN might be permanently removed from my access. I regularly view CN, TRNN, Truthdig, and Truthout, and yes even Vox (the last, mainly to gauge what the centrist Democrats are stewing about.) I don’t comment on any of the other sites because I refuse to use the platforms that are required. I don’t fool myself that I have any greater protection or safety here, and I guess you might call it just a personal quirk.

      As to the article and your comments: when I posted below a thought that I was mulling was that perhaps the best thing is for Korea to be patient because the US run is coming to an end. This does not mean that they will therefor be any better off under the domination of China, but the US legacy may be coming to an end. Writing a long letter to my brother I made the comment that “Perhaps Putin could propose leaving Crimea if the US would agree to the wishes of the inhabitants of Okinawa who would really like to have their island returned to them.”

  11. Jeff Harrison
    March 5, 2019 at 10:42

    One wonders, Patrick, how long this sort of thing can go on. Your last missive on Consortium spoke of Pence and Pompous and how they were isolating the US by virtue of being so insistent on the US’s way or the highway. Not only are they one trick ponies but they were demanding that Europe run against their own geostrategic realities. Yet this did not prevent those same vassal states from instantly supporting one of the US’s more egregious violations of international law wherein we magically anointed a new president in Venezuela. This actually makes an instant mockery of the whole Russiagate BS.

    Now we come to the instance of trying to negotiate an end to the war that N. Korea started and the US never declared. The US is in standard mode – concede to us everything we want first and then we’ll discuss what we might, if we’re so inclined, reluctantly agree to do that you want. The standard mode is in place so that we can abrogate our agreements and not worry that our interlocutor can actually go back on the agreement as we will because they will have already destroyed their power plant or whatever. This, of course, is the exact thing we did with the Iran nuclear deal.

    Actions need to have consequences. As long as the US can continue to violate international law and ride roughshod over the sovereignty of other nations consequence-free, we will. The deterioration of international relations that has and will be the result is in no one’s interest.

    • March 6, 2019 at 15:57

      ” ….. an end to the war that N. Korea started…..”

      Jeff, like me you may be surprised to learn by reading non-mainstream sources and history books that our western “history” of the Korean war is more “made up story” than fact. In reading such sources I learned that South Korean military forces repeatedly attacked NK forces over 2 years prior to the June 26th date we mark as the start of the war.

      Further, I learned that the US imposed government of Rhee Syngman (who was never elected in a broad popular vote as was Kim il Sung but instead elected by a representative body that was dominated by landed elites who collaborated with the Japanese occupation government prior to WW2) was engaged in a 2 year long repression of any “leftist” parties or groups that sought democracy free from the rule of the hated Japanese collaborators. During that bloody repression spree, somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 S. Korean civilians were massacred by the Rhee puppet government, many of the worst massacres being committed by former soldiers and police who served the Japanese army and occupation government police forces. The genocidal repression included such events as the Cheju massacres and Bodo Massacres. On Cheju Island alone, it is estimated that upwards of 1/3 of the population was butchered. The South Korean Truth and Reconciliation Commission has details of some of the massacres, but they only addressed a portion of what is now known of the scope of the repression by the US vassal Syngman Rhee.

      Interestingly, Rhee fled Korea shortly after the Japanese occupation in 1905, remained outside of Korea for most of its occupation by Japan, worked in the US, and after WW-2 was surreptitiously allowed into S. Korea by a CIA Agent named Goodfellow (we can’t make this stuff up!) that helped him attain power. In contrast, Kim il Sung and his army fought against Japanese occupation forces for decades attempting to secure the sovereign independence of Korea.

      After learning of the true history of that period before “…N Korea started..” the war, it is apparent to me that Kim il Sung launched the first “right to protect” war against a brutal dictator in Syngman Rhee that murdered hundreds of thousands of his countrymen. If the “R2P” crowd like Samantha Power and her ilk only knew of whose footsteps they walked, the difference being of course that Kim’s actions were actually justified while Powers et al were based upon lies, falsehoods and fabrications to justify the destruction, rape, and looting of Libya, where slave markets are now operated by the jihadi “pro-democracy protesters” we put in power.

      • Jeff Harrison
        March 7, 2019 at 20:38

        Thanx, Observer. I knew that the South Koreans were the Japanese collaborators and the North Koreans were the fearless freedom fighters (forgive me the hyperbole). This was very similar to the N/S Vietnam scenario where Ho Chi Minh was the national hero who kicked the French out but was forced to accept a right wing junta in the South. I did not know that South Koreans had been attacking the North before the North, in turn, attacked the South. I did know that Syngman Rhee was a consummate asshole. This deepens my understanding a bit for why “The West” is pushing so hard to control the media narrative now. Why the likes of the “integrity initiative”, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and other psyops/propaganda outlets have popped up all over the media landscape.

      • Jeff Harrison
        March 8, 2019 at 10:59

        Well, Observer, I posted a response to you yesterday but apparently CN didn’t approve of some of my blunt language. The short version is that I agree with you and knew most of what you said already. The thing that I didn’t know is that the S Korea had attacked N Korea in the years before the formal start of the war (or as we would have it, police action). One of the reasons that I find sites like CN so important is that they tend not to do the Fox News thing of leaving out portions of the truth to mislead you.

      • March 11, 2019 at 13:23

        Thank you for an excellent and informative post. Please keep posting these facts, especially on the so-called mainstream media where facts and truth are in perilously short supply.

        We can add to your post that the US literally bombed north Korea into the stone age – then we sneared at them for not having a western style of life. What a moral cesspit America continues to be.

  12. Michael Wilk
    March 5, 2019 at 09:50

    There is another option in the peace process, but it comes with considerable political risk: continue on without the United States, and do as Europe and Asia are doing with regards to the Iran nuclear deal and do end runs around the sanctions regimes imposed from Washington, D.C. The danger lies, obviously, in what sort of economic and military reprisals the deranged degenerates in the American Beltway might seek to retaliate with. But it should be clear by now that the U.S. cannot be trusted to be a viable partner for peace since its one and only business is war.

  13. vinnieoh
    March 5, 2019 at 09:28

    This explanation by Mr. Lawrence is the most likely that I have read so far. As I watched the spectacle unfold on “the news” I did wonder about another possibility. The Cohen hearing(s) in the House were quite obviously timed to embarrass Trump on the international stage, and as much as I despise everything about Trump, it seemed to me a new low even for the US to drag this partisan dirty laundry into the center of the international limelight. And I wondered if to Kim Jong Un, the latest in a dynasty that always seemed to adhere to the maxim that (wrt the DPRK) “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” realized that perhaps he was just a prop in the US s#$tshow. Considering that Trump, despite all his contradictory “initiatives” has brought two of the most intransigent US hegemons into his inner circle, as pointed out here by Mr. Lawrence, it does not seem unreasonable that KJU decided that this circus was too much, even for his tastes. To put a fine point on it, that this summit, considering that the US via DJT was once again engaged in demanding rather than negotiating in good faith, was in fact just a Trump publicity stunt.

    Watching the feckless political class trample over each other in a dash to exceptionalism and continued expanding militarism and the bankrupt MSM echo chamber, it is hard not to see the US in a gradual decline, but in fact in an unrestrained free-fall.

  14. March 5, 2019 at 09:08

    From the article:

    “First, Moon Jae-in pledged to help mediate between the North and the U.S. as soon as the Hanoi summit collapsed. And it has been clear since Moon was elected South Korea’s president in May 2017 that control of the agenda on the Korean Peninsula has gradually passed from the U.S. to Seoul and those working with it, notably China and Russia.”

    Whatever the agreement reached between Kim and Trump, and however rational it might be, the determination by Trump’s enemies, who are considerable, would likely scuttle it. The President has been so weakened that it has to have an effect on how those on the other side of the table look at any agreement he makes.

    He tried with Putin, as well, and his overtures were called treasonous.

    The rush to call negotiations called a failure is a sure sign of what lies in the future. Even without the Trump factor there are just too many in America who don’t want an agreement to happen.

    South Korea, benefitting from the economic impact of the American presence may want to work with North Korea, but they don’t want the rug pulled out from them.

    Still, the quote above offers hope that the United States’ heavy handed approach is creating resistance and normalization between the two Koreas might possibly proceed without us. That would be a good thing for America as well as the rest of the world.

  15. Skip Scott
    March 5, 2019 at 07:10

    If Trump was serious about negotiating with Kim, he wouldn’t have picked people like Bolton and Pompeo. It is delusional to think that Trump is playing 5D chess. He either had a “trip to the woodshed” early on, or he was lying about pursuing peace during his campaign. Just like all other presidents before him, he has almost zero impact on the implementation of the empire’s plan for a unipolar world. Trump is just the latest star in the “entertainment division” of the MIC.

  16. mike k
    March 5, 2019 at 06:49

    The main obstacle to peace on the Korean peninsula is the drive of the US Government to dominate the world. All other problems are secondary to this huge elephant squeezing the air out of the world’s living room.

  17. David G
    March 5, 2019 at 04:35

    Patrick Lawrence rightly seems to find Ri Yong Ho’s account of the scope of the DPRK’s demand for sanctions relief more credible than Trump’s gurglings at his Hanoi press conference, but he apparently does not know that the State Department has itself already said as much.

    From the AP:

    “So who’s telling the truth? In this case, it seems that the North Koreans are. …

    “According to a senior [State Department] official who briefed the media on condition he not be named because he was not authorized to discuss the negotiations publicly, the North Koreans ‘basically asked for the lifting of all sanctions.’

    “But he acknowledged the North’s demand was only for Washington to back the lifting of United Nations Security Council sanctions imposed since March 2016 and didn’t include the other resolutions going back a decade more.

    “What Pyongyang was seeking, he said, was the lifting of sanctions that impede the civilian economy and the people’s livelihood — as Ri had claimed.”

    https://www.tampabay.com/ap/entertainment/officials-say-trump-overstated-kims-demand-on-sanctions-ap_entertainment85250b96c38b4a238139e753302d9742

  18. John A
    March 5, 2019 at 04:01

    It is clear N and S Korea would ultimately like to be reunited as one country. However, it is equally clear that the US will never relinquish its colony and military base that is S Korea. H Clinton was unequivocal about that a few years ago, that the US would never allow that.
    One can only hope that the US eventually collapses under the weight of its own hubris and overreach. Internally, the US is already in a state of collapse. Unfortunately, the US public, the vast majority never having been abroad, are unaware of the huge state of disrepair of the US and lack of healthcare and decent education for the vast majority that do not inherit millions to start with.

  19. michael crockett
    March 5, 2019 at 01:09

    It seems to me that Trump has no serious intentions of making peace on the Korean Peninsula. Trumps position? Whatever Bolton says. Trump just finds a way to sabotage himself? I doubt it. I think Trump has fully embraced the Bolton foreign policy agenda. These two are simpatico. As such, we do not have negotiations being done in good faith. Rather, we have demands and ultimatums from Trump/Bolton. I think now is the time for President Moon to step up and tell the US where to step off. SK must reclaim its sovereign authority and throw the US troops out. I see Trump as a card carrying member of the swamp. How is that deal of the century coming along? Trump moved our embassy from Tel aviv to Jerusalem and then stated that Jerusalem would be the future capital of Israel. The deal of the century does not have a snowballs chance in hell of ever materializing. Trump/Netanyahu: simpatico. Trump wants regime change in Venezuela. US oil underneath Venezuela! Well that explains it. Trump/Abrams/Bolton: simpatico. The clown president is covered in slime and all of these foreign policy failures belong to him.

    • mike k
      March 5, 2019 at 06:53

      Right on Michael. And Trump is just a pawn (if a troublesome one) in the games of the Deep State and Global Oligarchy.

  20. billy bunter
    March 5, 2019 at 00:15

    If that’s the case then Kim had probably had enough of dealing with a complete IDIOT. To be seen on the world stage with an incompetent fool is too much of an embarrassment for the assassin Kim.

    • john wilson
      March 5, 2019 at 05:39

      Kim is not dealing with an idiot because he’s not dealing with Trump. Trump is a puppet with someone’s hand up his rear end telling him what to say and do. If it was really Kim and Trump together they might actually thrash something out. I think most people have come to the conclusion that the person who is called president of the US is a man or woman who has been bought, sold and completely under control of the deep state.

  21. Andrew Nichols
    March 4, 2019 at 23:54

    Two questions 1. What would Washington do if the Koreans just went ahead and signed a Peace Treaty and got on with restoring full relations? 2. Whose country is it anyway?

    We seem to be missing the point here.

  22. KiwiAntz
    March 4, 2019 at 23:10

    This article sounds like what really happened & confirms what I thought, that it was Kim who walked, following the ridiculous demands of Pompeo & Trump whi would have demanded full denuclearisation from the obset & not at the end of a negotiated process! Anerica is a Warmongering Nation whose whole economy is based on War profiteering & endless Wars to prop up its economy & justify its existence! It can’t or won’t allow “Peace” to break out in the World, especially in Korea or anywhere else? And Kim is not stupid? He has seen the duplicitous nature of the US & how it never honors or adheres to any written agreements & it’s word is completely cowardly & worthless, without honor? Walking away from International deals such as the JCPOA Iran deal, withdrawal from the ABM & INF with Russia confirms that the US can never be trusted to honor anything it signs as its a Rogue Nation which ignores International Laws that govern others! And Kim has watched the Regime change antics of the US in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine & ongoing economic wars & sanctions coups in Iran & more recent Venezuela? Nth Korea will never give up their Nuclear weapons & sole deterrence against America’s agression & why should they, when they see the lawless actions & utter contempt America shows towards Countries who treasure their own Sovereignty & refuse to bow down to this Hegemonic Empire of Death & Destruction called America! America should be sanctioned & punished by the entire World, not the other way round!

  23. Chris
    March 4, 2019 at 22:04

    Given NK’s history of duplicity, I’m hard-pressed to give them the benefit of any doubt. I guess the same could be said about Trump, though.

    • An Observer
      March 6, 2019 at 16:34

      What duplicity are you talking about?

      It is proven, as addressed in the article, that it was the United States that violated both the 1994 Agreed Framework and the Six Party Talks in the mid-2000’s when we failed to deliver the energy supplies we agree to in those talks, among other defaults by the US. North Korea complied with its requirements under those agreements, as validated by international inspectors; it was only after the US defaulted that N. Korea announced that they would cease complying. Not surprisingly, we then blamed the N. Koreans!

      Trump isn’t the only President or administration that fails to live up to treaty obligations or is duplicitous. Just ask the native American tribes – the ones that still survive anyway – how well our government abides by treaties.

  24. March 4, 2019 at 21:42

    Almost 70s years of punishment is enough.

  25. March 4, 2019 at 21:00

    it seems practical. we lift sanctions and n. korea decuclarizes. am i missing something??

    • Rob Roy
      March 6, 2019 at 13:16

      Stephen Kelly, yes…the fact of the elephant in the room.. the US has nuclear weapons of mass destruction so why doesn’t Kim put denuclearization of the US on the table. Every time two people discuss anything political, on TV, on radio, in reporting, there’s ALWAYS an elephant in the room. Usually, it’s something dreadful on the US side.

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