Friday, April 27, 2018

The Hermit Outcome

I honestly don't know how to judge the prospects of achieving peace on the Korean peninsula:

The leaders of North and South Korea agreed on Friday to work to remove all nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula and, within the year, pursue talks with the United States to declare an official end to the Korean War, which ravaged the peninsula from 1950 to 1953.

At a historic summit meeting, the first time a North Korean leader had ever set foot in the South, the leaders vowed to negotiate a treaty to replace a truce that has kept an uneasy peace on the divided Korean Peninsula for more than six decades, while ridding it of nuclear weapons. A peace treaty has been one of the incentives North Korea has demanded in return for dismantling its nuclear program.

In the past, North Korea seemed determined to get nuclear weapons in order to survive. So talks seemed pointless given that North Korea would pocket any concessions and continue on their merry way toward nukes.

I didn't think the Clinton administration's deal would work, and it didn't.

I worried that the Bush 43 administration would agree to a deal just to have a deal no matter how bad, especially with all the attacks over the Iraq War.

And I was relieved that Obama didn't even bother to try to talk to North Korea, hoping that a strategy of hoping for regime collapse before they got nukes ("strategic patience") would work.

It didn't work. But I don't blame Obama for the first 6 years of that attempt. Clearly he should have changed course given how close North Korea got in the last two years of his administration. But that's another matter.

I'm worried that a dovish South Korean President Moon Jae-in might take any deal. But I'm not worried Trump will take any deal to have a deal.

And I do think the Chinese appreciate that while it is nice to have a North Korean ally rattling South Korea, Japan, and America by pursuing nuclear weapons; it is actually bad to have a North Korean ally who possesses nuclear weapons.

That's a major change in the environment.

And maybe Kim Jong-un realizes that the absence of an American attack on North Korea since the end of the Korean War--and especially since the end of the Cold War which lost North Korea Soviet support--means that if America hasn't attacked given North Korea's decrepit armed forces, we never will.

It's possible we will have a good deal out of all this. And it is possible that Lu-ci will pull the football away one last time to get sanctions eased or lifted to make the final dash to nuclear weapons status.

Would it be too much to hope that a deal involves North Korea revealing everything they've shared with Iran?

Have a super sparkly day?

UPDATE: Stratfor thinks it is possible North Korea would de-nuclearize. But North Korea would want more than just the lifting of sanctions to do so.

Bonus material: I'd long denied, as anti-war people often claimed, that the 2003 Iraq War taught thug rulers that they need nukes to deter America. I argued that given that we tolerate lots of thug rulers, the Iraq War proved that thug rulers pursuing WMD attract our attention (without going into the non-WMD reasons for the war, of course).

The 2011 Libya War, where a thug ruler who gave up his WMD programs was targeted for destruction, was the war that taught thug rulers they need nukes. Stratfor thinks the latter Libya War impressed North Korea for the reason I offered, implying the former is a correct reading of the Iraq War, too.