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Trump's North Korea Summit May Not Happen

Kim Jong Un threatens to skip the meeting following joint U.S.-South Korean military drills.

Inter-Korean Summit Press Corps/Pool/AFLO/NewscomInter-Korean Summit Press Corps/Pool/AFLO/NewscomThe prospects for a successful diplomatic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are looking dimmer by the day.

Since the two governments began discussing a meeting between Kim and Trump, which would be the first between a U.S. president and a North Korean leader, diplomatic relations have been thawing. In April the North Korean government announced a suspension of nuclear and missile testing. That was followed by a meeting between Kim and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-In, both of whom committed to reaching a permanent peace agreement. Last week three Americans imprisoned in North Korea were returned to the United States.

The last few days have seen a sudden reversal of this good will. On Tuesday the North Korean government suspended talks with the South in response to its joint military exercises with the U.S. Hours later it issued an angry missive castigating National Security Adviser John Bolton for suggesting in April that the U.S. should follow the "Libya model" of denuclearization with North Korea. Such talk, a North Korean Foreign Ministry official said, was putting the summit in danger. Yesterday North Korea's chief inter-Korean diplomat said that "unless the serious situation which led to the suspension of the north-south high-level talks is settled, it will never be easy to sit face to face again with the present regime of South Korea."

The Trump administration's response has been pretty sedate. When asked Wednesday whether the impending summit will still happen, Trump offered a cryptic "we'll see." White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday downplayed Bolton's "Libya model" remark, saying the administration will follow "the President Trump model."

Many journalists portrayed North Korea's shift as another example of Kim's aggressiveness, erraticism, or both. The New York Times said the move was part of "a pattern by the unpredictable regime: diplomatic outreach, followed by erratic behavior and, in many cases, an outright rejections of peace overtures." In a CNN opinion piece, David Rothkopf said Tuesday's "verbal pre-emptive strike" was aimed at seeing how far Trump would go to save a summit in which he has invested so much political capital. Ethan Epstein, writing in The Weekly Standard, said "the North's seemingly irrational threat to walk away is in fact part of a long-established pattern: pushing and probing. The regime likes to see how far it can bend its adversaries."

Yet North Korea's reaction to Bolton's "Libya model" comments is understandable given what happened to Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi after he surrendered his nuclear weapons program in 2003. "Perhaps the simplest and biggest reason North Korea doesn't like the Libya model is what happened to the Gadhafi regime," Malfrid Braut-Hegghammer, a political science professor at Olso University and author of a book on the Iraqi and Libyan nuclear weapons programs, told The Washington Post. "In 2011, it was toppled by a domestic uprising and a NATO-led coalition."

The North Korean government said as much on Tuesday, declaring that the "world knows too well that our country is neither Libya nor Iraq which have met [a] miserable fate." That Bolton's comments were followed by joint military drills involving some 100 U.S. warplanes would be enough to spook a lot of governments, let alone a deeply paranoid one like North Korea's. "North Korea's message should be interpreted not as an attempt to spoil the mood but rather as encouragement to do a better job," an unnamed South Korean official told The Hankyoreh, a South Korean newspaper.

Trump has said his summit with Kim could be "a very special moment for World Peace!" He has set the difficult goal of convincing the North Korean regime to completely surrender its nuclear arsenal. It's an open question whether that result is achievable, but bellicose rhetoric from hawkish advisers, combined with conspicuous military drills, surely do not make it easier.

Photo Credit: Inter-Korean Summit Press Corps/Pool/AFLO/Newscom

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  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Do you reckon Reason would rather see peace in Korea or Trump to fail?

    This is the fault line all media is straddling.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I think either of those would require Reason to be a person with hopes and desires rather than an organization of distinct individuals.

  • SIV||

    "distinct individuals"

    lol

    TEAM KOCH

    "Low tax-SJW Tribe"

  • SIV||

    DeepState Tribe-ladies auxiliary division

    #TheResistance-alt-left faction

  • Libertymike||

    What about the #Trump Neo-Cohen Zionist faction?

  • SIV||

    None of those at tReason

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Don't try to cover for Drumpf's incompetence by calling North Korea "paranoid." Hillary Clinton would be handling this situation so much more effectively.

    #StillWithHer

  • Libertymike||

    Have you noticed that there is a lot more of her recently?

  • Agammamon||

    Are you saying she's fat!

  • Hugh Akston||

    Um, but Trump said it would happen.

    No offense Britches, but I'm much more inclined to believe Donald Trump, who has never said anything misleading or contradictory as far as I know from reading H&R comments. You, on the other hand, have said many things that are critical of Trump, and therefore wrong by definition.

    This is why the media lacks credibility.

  • Libertymike||

    Chant from Trump rally:

    No-belle prize!

    No-belle prize!

    No-belle prize!

  • MotörSteve||

    Maybe Dennis Rodman needs to get involved?

  • BBerry12||

    Dennis Rodman might be able to explain that all teams have practice sessions. He would have loved it as a player if his opposing teams had skipped theirs.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Phew, that would have been a very embarrassing Nobel committee meeting.

  • Ron||

    Failure for the talks to resume can clearly be placed on Obama's lap since he is the one who broke the U.S. deal Bush made with Kadaffi. Why would anyone Trust the U.S. after Obama's bumbles, of course you only have to talk to the Native Americans to understand how little the U.S. puts in its treaties

  • Libertymike||

    The Laramie treaties of 1851 and 1868?

  • gormadoc||

    Never before Obama had the US ever backstabbed any allies or gone against its word.

  • bevis the lumberjack||

    Is it really accurate to call this proposed meeting a "summit"?

    I mean, back when that word started being used for meetings between the leaders of the US and the USSR it still came across as a little grandiose, but at least you could kinda see it.

    The US and NK? Trump and Jong Un? That's no summit, buddy. More like a "mesa". Or a "pit" or maybe a "gulch". Or the "fifth circle of hell".

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Culvert

  • Jerryskids||

    Stop thinking in terms of Yalta or Paris or Reykjavik, start thinking in terms of Mount Ararat, Mount Sinai, Mount Moriah. I suspect Trump thinks in those terms, I know for a fact some of His followers do.

  • Sevo||

    Seek help.

  • SIV||

    A swale, a depression,a borrow pit, a draw, an arroyo a gorge?

  • bevis the lumberjack||

    I think calling it the Trump/Jong Un Arroyo is perfect, except that if you and I start using foreign non-English words it'll mark us as obvious illegals and we'll be subject to being yelled at and maybe raided by ICE. Personally, I'm willing to risk it.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Gotta be 'gorge'. I mean just look at those two puffballs.

  • LynchPin1477||

    I'm not shocked, but I am disappointed. Real progress on North Korea would probably be the the best thing Trump would have done as president. Maybe this is all just bluster. Maybe it was always just a ploy. Let's hope something positive still comes of it all, though.

  • Sevo||

    "...Let's hope something positive still comes of it all, though."

    It never was anything but a long-shot; Kim doesn't simply about-face and get all nice-guy. Plus, he's never had to negotiate for anything; he demands, he gets. Or else.
    But, but, but...

  • Jerryskids||

    Bolton's on Trump's shit-list now! He screwed up big time contradicting Trump by referring to "the Libya model" for their proposed dealings with the Norks instead of Trump's preferred nomenclature, "fire and fury like the world has never seen". Or the exact opposite of that, whichever position Trump's very good brain has convinced him is his long-held and oft-stated position at this particular moment.

  • Sevo||

    Jerryskids|5.17.18 @ 7:47PM|#
    "Bolton's on Trump's shit-list now!"
    When I look for cogent comments regarding Trump, always look somewhere other than the TDS ward.
    Fuck off; the act is tired.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The primary reason why Bolton is in his position is because Bolton is one of the few Republicans who supported Trump during his campaign and, hence, is one of the few people Trump can trust not to throw him under the bus to a likely impeachment hearing for everything he says about Putin, et. al. if and when the Democrats take the House in November.

    Bolton is not the ideal person to have in that position, to say the least, but under the circumstances (if Speaker Pelosi doesn't initiate impeachment proceedings against Trump, the Democrats will likely replace her with another Speaker who will), it would be foolish for Trump to have anyone else in that position. Sure, it's the job of the president to lead effectively even if life is unfair that way, but watching the left create the circumstances that make Bolton's involvement necessary and then whine about Bolton's involvement is still pathetic.

    It's likely that Bolton wouldn't be there today if it weren't for Mueller's witch hunt, and if congress wants to see Trump conduct foreign policy effectively (without needing to use personal loyalty as the first, last, and most important qualification to be Trump's primary functionaries on foreign policy), then they should impose addition restraints on Mueller. Mueller, obviously, isn't capable of self-restraint. Otherwise, he wouldn't be going after people for charges that are unrelated to his mandate.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The purpose of the independent counsel was to investigate Russian collusion--not to make it practically impossible for the president to conduct foreign policy effectively.

  • Mezzanine||

    The charges filed weren't unrelated to the probe. George Papadopoulos, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn were all indicted for lying to the FBI during interviews for the collusion investigation. Justice Department regulations on the power of a Special Council include prosecuting any Federal crimes that arise in the course of the investigation. Considering Papadopoulos, Flynn and Gates have all pleaded guilty, this "witch hunt" has turned up quite a few witches.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Manafort is being prosecuted for something that has nothing to do with the Russians or the 2016 election.

  • Sevo||

    Oh, goody! An idiot to flay:
    "The charges filed weren't unrelated to the probe. George Papadopoulos, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn were all indicted for lying to the FBI during interviews for the collusion investigation."
    Tell us what the lies were and you might have something to say. Other than that, it's bullshit. For all we know (and Mueller hasn't said otherwise), they lied about when they took a crap.

    "Justice Department regulations on the power of a Special Council include prosecuting any Federal crimes that arise in the course of the investigation."
    So you support fishing expeditions so long as Trump is the subject?

    "Considering Papadopoulos, Flynn and Gates have all pleaded guilty, this "witch hunt" has turned up quite a few witches."
    Pleased guilty to what?
    Fucking imbeciles...

  • Homple||

    To be fair, I don't think it took Bolton to remind Kim of what happened to Gadaffi. Kim has that 11 second video of Hillary cackling "we came, we saw, he died" running on a loop on a big screen TV in his office.

    As do the Iranians, for that matter. That's why there will be no Iran "deal", ever.

  • Sevo||

    "...if congress wants to see Trump conduct foreign policy effectively (without needing to use personal loyalty as the first, last, and most important qualification to be Trump's primary functionaries on foreign policy), then they should impose addition restraints on Mueller...."

    I'd settle for *some* restraints. About now, it's obvious that Mueller is hoping to catch Trump on that un-paid parking ticket from 2009; it was a spot near the Russian Embassy, so the Russkis must have been making illegal contributions to his 2016 campaign!
    There's a reason the US justice system doesn't tolerate fishing expeditions, and Mueller is exhibit #1.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "Trump can trust not to throw him under the bus to a likely impeachment hearing"

    Any impeachment hearing is nowhere near likely.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I made the argument for why it's likely, but you ignored that and just went with a contradiction?

    "(if Speaker Pelosi doesn't initiate impeachment proceedings against Trump, the Democrats will likely replace her with another Speaker who will"

    Because of this, the chances of impeachment roughly approximate the chances of the Democrats taking the House.

    Whether Trump will be convicted in the Senate is another question, but stuffing his inner circle with people he can trust still makes sense in light of a probable impeachment hearing--even IF IF IF he can depend on those Republicans in the senate who will be challenging him for the party's nomination to support him.

  • Sevo||

    "I made the argument for why it's likely, but you ignored that and just went with a contradiction?
    "(if Speaker Pelosi doesn't initiate impeachment proceedings against Trump, the Democrats will likely replace her with another Speaker who will""

    Not an argument, an opinion.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Those two were all talk?

    Who could have guessed it?

  • Sevo||

    This asshole is all bullshit?
    EVERYBODY knew that.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    If artie poo is on the Media Matters troll payroll they aren't getting much bang for their buck.....

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It is sickening to see all the progress Obama made with North Korea completely rolled back in such a short time.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Fools think every hill leads to heaven and every valley dips all the way to hell. The truth is that we'll go through peaks and valleys on the journey no matter where the road ends.

    In the meantime, we've seen satellite evidence that North Korea is actually dismantling its nuclear test site. I'd consider that real progress--regardless of whatever trend we see in the headlines next week--and North Korea didn't give that bargaining chip away for no reason.

    They were responding to leverage. Only Obama makes concessions for no reason.

  • JoeBlow123||

    "In the meantime, we've seen satellite evidence that North Korea is actually dismantling its nuclear test site. I'd consider that real progress--regardless of whatever trend we see in the headlines next week--and North Korea didn't give that bargaining chip away for no reason."

    1) It is just a tunnel in the ground. They have a few too, hard to say if all are inoperable (unlikely).
    2) It partially collapsed after the last test.
    3) The Norks already have dozens of nukes and tested them multiple times. The Israelis only tested theirs once. We know they have them. No more testing necessary.
    4) They know we were watching.

    This is all political theatre. This is the same country that threatened to blow up Guam and threw a bitch fit when Sony made an insulting movie about them. Believe nothing they say and nothing they willingly reveal for free, it means nothing. Just a new stage in the game.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Those two were all talk?

    Who could have guessed it?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Watching all those nuclear test sites in NK being dismantled is such a waste. Good jobs lost.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Political theatre.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

  • Rich||

    conspicuous military drills

    How this could have not been an explicit factor in setting up the talks in the first place?

    "Oh, Kim apparently assumed we wouldn't continue this, um, tradition."

  • Sevo||

    "How this could have not been an explicit factor in setting up the talks in the first place?"

    These are annual exercises, planned from the end of the prior-year effort. For Kim to lean on this is pretty much a tell that he was looking for an excuse to influence or cancel the talks.
    This has the smell of 'honesty' similar to posts from Tony or that fucking Kirkland; none.
    As to the real 'reason', I find nothing which stands out as more credible than another, except the possibility that the collapsed nuke test facility (here:
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/
    2018/apr/26/north-korea-nuclear-test
    -site-collapse-may-be-out-of-action-china )
    It may not have been damaged to the point of un-use, which presumed un-use caused Kim's initial proposal; he was willing to give up what he no longer had.

  • Agammamon||

    Plus, pretty much every year the NK's get all loud about these exercises. Its a rare year they don't bitch about them and demand they be cancelled.

  • Sevo||

    It is SOP by the SKs and the US. AFAIK, whining is SOP by the Norks.
    And AFAIK, NK has a huge army by body count and a nothing army by effectiveness.
    See above as to why Kim is bailing; other than that, I really don't have any thing of substance.

  • JoeBlow123||

    "These are annual exercises, planned from the end of the prior-year effort. For Kim to lean on this is pretty much a tell that he was looking for an excuse to influence or cancel the talks."

    This. His moves are intended to stop here drills, drive a wedge between the ROKs and USA, and make him look like the good guy here when talks collapse. This is all a bunch of baloney.

    Hopefully good comes of it but very unlikely. Trump is saying the right things though.

  • renicantik||

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