Saturday, October 5th, supplied another solid piece of evidence that the State Department has been commandeered by Donald Trump’s private agenda at the expense of security on the Korean peninsula. Signs of White House manipulation of our diplomatic endeavors poured in like flood water this week, with the texts that confirmed an operation designed to extort a vulnerable ally, with the threat of withholding arms needed to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Let’s look at the background leading up to this. In September, while Kim Jong-un was overseeing the test firing of rockets and missile systems, activities that he has conducted since May of this year, after a short hiatus, the Trump administration represented that further negotiations between U.S. diplomats and North Korean representatives would commence once again in October.
The pattern – which has been consistent throughout five American presidencies, is that the DPRK, serially dangles the prospects of denuclearization, signals intentions to bring its activities of enriching weapon grade Uranium and ballistic missiles to a halt, makes vague and even in some cases written commitments to do so – and then finally, restarts the testing and development.
For example, in May, the North Korean dictator ordered his military into “full combat posture”, a component of which, was the firing of two short range rockets and numerous other offense purposed projectiles.
Those tests were in complete contradiction of Donald Trump’s assurances that he was on track to bring Kim’s provocations to a halt, through the power of his extraordinary persuasion. Of them, Trump equivocated,
“They were smaller missiles, they were short-range missiles. Nobody’s happy about it but we’re taking a good look and we’ll see.”
Just two months later, on July 25th, Kim launched another missile, reportedly based on an established Russian design (Iskander), with the capability of delivering nuclear warheads, deployed from the East Sea, as this televised report from Arirang (South Korea) News, details:
Donald Trump, as we have outlined in several comprehensive reports, is more susceptible to this syndrome than any previous presidents.
Key to that susceptibility is the president’s personal agenda. He is desperate to get any sort of agreement from the North Koreans, no matter how trivial and meaningless, that he can attempt to sell to voters to convince them he has won a signature foreign policy achievement.
We saw that in the Singapore summit, after which Kim’s regime reverted back to customary activity. We saw it in the Hanoi meeting in January of this year. We witnessed it again when Trump crossed over the Demilitarized Zone to take a short stroll with Kim at the end of June. And so, this sets the backdrop for the latest engagement this week in Stockholm, Sweden.
Recently fired, National Security Advisor, John Bolton, regardless of whatever else might be said of him, is a realist when it comes to North Korea and its intentions to manipulate Trump and his administration.
Bolton told a gathering at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that North Korea’s dictator, “has not made a strategic decision to give up (his) nuclear weapons.” In fact, he continued, “the strategic decision Kim Jong Un is operating through is that he will do whatever he can to keep a deliverable nuclear weapons capability and to develop and enhance it further.”
Among the reasons Trump dismissed Bolton, was that Bolton failed to promote Trump’s deceptive charade about the North Korean situation.
On Wednesday, North Korea launched yet another missile, this time a (Pukguksong-3), employing a sea based platform flying on a southeasterly trajectory, landing in Japan’s exclusive economic zone off Shimane prefecture. .
The Pukguksong 3, reports NBC News military analysts, is “a solid-fuel missile in the North’s weapons arsenal. The country first test-launched a Pukguksong-1 missile from an underwater platform in 2016, and Kim said at the time his military had gained “perfect nuclear-attack capability.”
The Pukguksong classified as a medium range missile, if fired in a conflict with standard targeting trajectory, would have, according to experts, a 1,500-2,000 kilometers (930-1,240 miles) range. ,
In response to this week’s launch , a U.S. State Department communique, stated that North Korea needs, “to refrain from provocations, abide by their obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions, and remain engaged in substantive and sustained negotiations to do their part to ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and achieve denuclearization.”
Which brings us to the State Department itself. Today’s meeting in Stockholm ended with no agreements between the two sides. And that the talks ended in a stalemate could not have been made more clear by one of the North Korean negotiators, Kim Miyong Gil, who stated to reporters that, the talks in Stockholm had “not fulfilled our expectations and broke down. I am very displeased about it.”
Or let’s just say that it could not have been more clear to anyone other than the political wing of the State Department, ushered in by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus followed orders and launched into a stark denial of reality, telling international media that “Kim’s comments did not reflect the content or the spirit of the good discussions” that transpired in an 8 hour conference.
Once again a further session was floated, but this time the North Koreans indicated no interest. Kim Miyong Gil, rejected Ortagus’ account of the outcome of the talks, saying, “The US raised expectations and offered suggestions like flexible approach, new methods and creative solutions but they have disappointed us greatly, and dampened our enthusiasm for negotiations by bringing nothing to the negotiation table.”
It appears that North Korea has little to no interest at this point, of even putting up a pretense to provide Trump political cover with voters in the United States. But what explains this behavior, which goes against the grain of traditional handling of recalcitrant adversaries? Why would a State Department spokesperson issue a statement that so transparently is opposition to the clear reality of the circumstances?
There is a reason and it’s not terribly complex. Donald Trump has gotten his tail in a crack with his unorthodox, but patently self serving approach to the North Korean situation and Kim’s unending provocations.
You will recall that Trump’s initial approach began with cartoonish belligerence, “my button is much bigger and more powerful”. That continued on for several months before Trump, having gotten nowhere with the threats, decided to experiment with the Carrot instead of the stick.
Then Trump was struck with an idea. He heard that a couple of Norwegian legislators sent a letter to the Nobel committee, arguing that Trump should be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
At that point, Trump ditched the hard line with Kim entirely and pursued an all out campaign to charm the nuclear development out of the man, he previously derisively termed, “Little Rocket Man”. Now, Trump engaged in summits and lavished praise on Kim, crooning and boasting over the “beautiful letters” he received from him.
Once Kim obtained the legitimacy Trump conferred upon him, all pretense of denuclearization went out the door, leaving Trump only to bitterly lament that the Nobel Committee unfairly overlooked him.
But now Trump has a dilemma. To resort back to the hawkish posture, would constitute a tacit admission that he has been outmaneuvered and his mythical “art of the deal” has taken a face plant on hard concrete.
While the foreign policy community clearly sees that the Emperor has no clothes, Trump’s base doesn’t. And Trump will go to any lengths to maintain the fiction with them, even at the expense of our security interests in the Pacific and that of our allies.
There is no question, based on this and what we’ve learned about the role senior State Department officials played in the effort to secure information Trump desired to discredit Joe Biden and our intelligence agencies from Ukraine, that the State Department has been re-purposed to promote the messaging and interests of Donald Trump and not that of national security. Trump and his cronies are transforming the State Department into the Statist Department.
CNN is reporting that their journalists working the State Department beat have been approached by several current staffers at State who are expressing a generally felt sense of consternation over the re-purposing of diplomatic missions for partisan objectives. One official told them that:
There’s a sense that “at the top level … there’s no real ability or willingness to stand up to what the President wants. Even when the President has a bad idea, Pompeo is unable to stand up to that in the way [former Secretary of State] Rex Tillerson did.”
Another points to the frustration and disillusionment of the illegitimate meddling in the work of career diplomats, saying that the agency is at “probably the lowest morale point that I have seen in over two decades.”
Attempting to deceive Americans about Trump’s fool’s errand with Kim, is just a confirmation of what we have already witnessed.