Modeling North Korean negotiators

by on January 11, 2016 at 1:36 pm in Current Affairs, History, Law, Political Science | Permalink

Joel S. Wit, who has negotiated with North Koreans for over twenty years, has a very interesting NYT piece on that topic, here is one excerpt:

The North Koreans may know a lot about the outside world, but they don’t know everything, even about the United States, their main adversary. In one meeting, an official asked, “Why do the president and secretary of state keep saying that the United States will not allow North Korea to have nuclear weapons when in fact you are not doing much to stop us?” He deduced that there must be a hidden agenda. “It’s because you want us to have nuclear weapons as an excuse to tighten your grip on South Korea and Japan, your two allies.” We responded that there was no hidden agenda and that the United States really did not want the North to have those weapons. I’m not sure we convinced him.

The piece is interesting throughout, most of all Wit stresses their realism and sophistication as negotiators, and urges us not to think of them as lunatics.

1 chuck martel January 11, 2016 at 2:05 pm

“the United States, their main adversary.”

That’s an interesting clause. Why should the US be the main adversary of a small country many thousands of miles away? Why not Argentina or Belgium? Is it possible that the US, with its global reach and economic and military power, is the bogeyman de siecle of any tyranny that needs an enemy in order to consolidate its power? Examples abound (the Philippines, Hawaii, Grenada, Panama, Iraq etc.) and the US involvement in the Korean war lends further credence to this particular line of NoRK thinking. Maybe NoRKs think that an atomic capability is necessary to keep them from becoming a satellite of the US, like the Northern Marianas or Samoa.

2 Bob from Ohio January 11, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Yes, after the massive US invasion after the Pueblo incident, I can see why they think nukes are the only thing saving them.

3 prior_test January 12, 2016 at 3:02 am

‘I can see why they think nukes are the only thing saving them’

Well, back in 1968, North Korea counted on the Soviet Union, and Mao’s China, neither of which actually exist any longer – and in the context of the bit hotter than normal Cold War at the time, the stakes were a hell of a lot higher than today, where the real question is who really cares if North Korea can slam two chunks of uranium together in a cave every couple of years. Analog had a science fact article decades ago describing how to create the critical mass necessary for fission – if I remember, you need two chunks of uranium (either 35 lbs or kg, or two chunks equal to that amount) and a straight pipe 35 feet long to drop them down. The result of this profoundly low tech operation is a low yield nuclear detonation – which the North Koreans have proven they can generate. As is generally the case with all nuclear weapons, getting a good sized chunk of fissile to go boom isn’t really all that hard. Having the necessary material in the first place is the real hurdle, which is where all the technology is required, both to acquire the proper material, and then to slam together as little fissile material as possible to create an explosion out of what would be a sub-critical mass when melted together.

‘The seizure of the U.S. Navy ship and its 83 crew members, one of whom was killed in the attack, came less than a week after President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “State of the Union” address to the United States Congress, just a week before the start of the “Tet Offensive” in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and only three days after 31 men of North Korea’s “KPA Unit 12” had crossed the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and killed 26 South Koreans in an attempt to attack the South Korean “Blue House” (executive mansion) in the capital Seoul. The taking of Pueblo and the abuse and torture of its crew during the subsequent 11-month prisoner drama became a major Cold War incident, raising tensions between the western democracies and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and People’s Republic of China.’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Pueblo_(AGER-2)

4 jb January 11, 2016 at 5:25 pm

Why would North Korea consider the US as its main adversary? I suspect it is because U.S troops are stationed in South Korea and act to thwart the North’s aspiration to unify the peninsula.

5 The Original D January 12, 2016 at 7:43 am

It raises the status of the leadership to have a powerful enemy.

6 The Original D January 12, 2016 at 7:48 am

As an aside, a former employee of mine escaped from Albania (along with his wife and child) in the waning years of the Cold War. He told me that when he was growing up that Enver Hoxha, their crazy version of Kim, used to warn of a pending US invasion every few weeks.]

BTW that former employee has since done very well for himself. I’m proud to say I gave him his first professional job. And he’s a muslim to boot. Who knew?

7 Bob January 11, 2016 at 5:32 pm

Because the Korean War ended with an armistice, not with a peaceful settlement or treaty. There still is no formal peaceful settlement or peace treaty between the US and North Korea, after more than 60 years:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Armistice_Agreement

8 required January 11, 2016 at 5:53 pm

Also the highest peace time rank is 2 star, but we have 3 star and 4 star because we are still in war.

9 joe January 11, 2016 at 8:09 pm

Nothing about this sentence is true.

10 chuck martel January 11, 2016 at 6:35 pm

Since war was never declared why should a peace settlement be necessary? There are probably Indian tribes that have never signed a peace treaty with the US either.

11 Mondfledermaus January 12, 2016 at 10:30 am

Maybe because neither Argentina nor Belgium din’t carped bomb North Korea flat. Although Belgium did sent a contingent to the Korean War.

12 JohnBinNH January 11, 2016 at 2:13 pm

The agenda isn’t hidden but it’s invisible to them: it’s the agenda of influencing voters. In other words the President, etc. says things like “no nukes in North Korea” so that the general US public will think the administration is strong and protecting them.

13 dearieme January 11, 2016 at 2:33 pm

“when in fact you are not doing much to stop us”: best joke of the year so far on this blog.

14 CL January 11, 2016 at 2:23 pm

“Why do the president and secretary of state keep saying that the United States will not allow North Korea to have nuclear weapons when in fact you are not doing much to stop us? It’s because you want us to have nuclear weapons as an excuse to tighten your grip on South Korea and Japan, your two allies.”

So the US should keep doing nothing, so the North Koreans keep thinking the US wants them to have nuclear weapons, so the North Koreans lose interest in having nuclear weapons.

As soon as the US tries to stop North Korea, the North Koreans will think the US wants them not to have nuclear weapons, so the North Koreans will try to get nuclear weapons at any cost.

That’s the logic behind this story.

It’s a funny because it’s true.

15 A Definite Beta Guy January 12, 2016 at 10:05 am

This is not true. North Korea, and for that matter Iran, cannot sustain any nuclear capability whatsoever if the US chooses to remove it. What are they going to stop the US Air Force? Prayer?

16 Peldrigal January 18, 2016 at 5:44 pm

You might have heard of this newfangled invention, called “digging”. Look it up.

17 RM January 11, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Not sure why this particular blurb is newsworthy. The entire developing world, and sometimes the developed world, thinks that the U.S. has hidden agendas.

18 Arjun January 11, 2016 at 3:34 pm

Of course the US government has hidden agendas. Is anybody here really naive enough to think that all the “freedom and democracy” tripe actually represents how government planners go about crafting foreign policy and geopolitical engagement?

19 Tommy January 11, 2016 at 4:05 pm

Yes, I think most Americans agree that the US has self-interested goals that diverge from its rhetoric. However, foreigners seem to have especially conspiratorial beliefs about our agenda. For instance, judging from conversations I’ve had abroad, a lot of foreigners, even educated ones, believe that 9/11 was an inside job.

20 Moreno Klaus January 11, 2016 at 5:18 pm

I would say it is quite possible. War in Iraq, does not help the “no hidden agenda” crowd… What is happening in Syria (supporting moderate rebels? yeah, right and Santa Claus is real) , Lybia (total disaster?) and Yemen (i am not even going to comment…) and this very contradictory alliance with Saudi Arabia (one of the main spiritual/financial sources of islamic terrorism) also doesnt….If you put all pieces together it is hard to believe that US/EU does not have a hidden agenda. (Actually it is not so hidden: it is all about taking control of oil resources). This doesnt mean that Iran/Russia/China doesnt have their own “evil plans”. Of course they do. Every country has, and that is why the world is a huge mess.

21 So Much For Subtlety January 11, 2016 at 5:36 pm

Moreno Klaus January 11, 2016 at 5:18 pm

War in Iraq, does not help the “no hidden agenda” crowd…

Actually the War in Iraq does help the no hidden agenda case. Iraq invaded Kuwait. The US threw them out restoring what little liberty and freedom the Kuwaiti people had. The situation then suited the US fine. Oil flowed. Everyone was happy. But George W thought that democracy and freedom was everyone’s birth right and so he went to give it to the people of the Middle East. That cost America a lot of money and they got no oil out of it. It was done for entirely humanitarian and freedom-loving reasons.

What is happening in Syria (supporting moderate rebels? yeah, right and Santa Claus is real)

The fact that there are no moderate Syrians is not America’s fault. But again this proves the pro-US case. They are not trying to take over Syria. They are trying to find someone who wants freedom and give them some guns. Not working is it? If they had a hidden agenda there would be a lot less fighting.

Lybia (total disaster?)

Libya was France’s war not America’s. But again, no US interest at all. No attempt to control Libya. No attempt to control the oil. The US saw the world did not like Iraq and said that they would do nothing but air support. So how did Libya turn out with no US ground troops?

What do you think the hidden agenda here is?

and Yemen (i am not even going to comment…)

Because you cannot. People hate the US. They hated when the US tried to do something in Iraq with ground troops, so they had to do something in Libya with only air power. People hated that too. So they did something in Syria with only supplies. That did not work and people hated that too. So in Yemen they are trying precisely nothing. Needless to say the idiotic mindless left cannot give up its idiotic, mindless hatred and so they blame the US for that too. But all these countries have one thing in common and it is not the US.

and this very contradictory alliance with Saudi Arabia (one of the main spiritual/financial sources of islamic terrorism) also doesnt

The Saudi government is not funding terrorism. It is a historic alliance. It works well. It is better than the alternatives. So there is nothing contradictory about it.

….If you put all pieces together it is hard to believe that US/EU does not have a hidden agenda. (Actually it is not so hidden: it is all about taking control of oil resources).

To think that the US has been plotting the control of oil is moonbattery that requires medical help, not reasoned debate. It is simply not a rational argument to make. There is no evidence for it. As the Wikileaks people showed. We got to see what was driving US foreign policy and it was not oil.

This doesnt mean that Iran/Russia/China doesnt have their own “evil plans”. Of course they do. Every country has, and that is why the world is a huge mess.

On the contrary. The world would be a better place if people simply did what was in their best interest. The US is too ideological to do so.

22 Sometimes better to use another username January 11, 2016 at 5:51 pm

All generally true except for Saudi Arabia. Sure S.A. is playing a double game, but so does the U.S.: Just look at our policies wrt Israeli occupation of other peoples’ land.

23 Thiago Ribeiro January 11, 2016 at 7:11 pm

“But George W thought that democracy and freedom was everyone’s birth right and so he went to give it to the people of the Middle East.”
But not in, say, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates.
“he Saudi government is not funding terrorism. It is a historic alliance. It works well. It is better than the alternatives. So there is nothing contradictory about it.”
HA HA HA. Yes, it does. Saudi Arabia funds radical Islamic preaching and supports terrorists as both Bush’s Administration officers and Obama’s Administration officers acknowledged.
http://articles.latimes.com/2008/apr/02/nation/na-terror2
https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/09STATE131801_a.html

24 msgkings January 12, 2016 at 1:40 am

I +1 this post if only for this reminder of just how colossally stupid that Iraq II was. No matter how much revisionists try to revise, let’s not forget the fuck up that was. It’s pretty much patient zero for the current Middle East plague.

25 msgkings January 12, 2016 at 1:42 am

The money shot:

“But George W thought that democracy and freedom was everyone’s birth right and so he went to give it to the people of the Middle East. That cost America a lot of money and they got no oil out of it.”

Phrase forgotten (after ‘no oil out of it’): “and it directly led to the region’s current disaster scene”

26 So Much For Subtlety January 12, 2016 at 4:19 am

Thiago Ribeiro January 11, 2016 at 7:11 pm

But not in, say, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates.

It is a trivial task to find neo-cons talking about them as well.

Yes, it does. Saudi Arabia funds radical Islamic preaching and supports terrorists as both Bush’s Administration officers and Obama’s Administration officers acknowledged.

I like the way that you link to two articles that say the Saudi government does not fund terrorism, it even arrests people inside Saudi Arabia who do fund terrorism, it just does not do so as often or as well as the Americans would like.

Why am I not surprised that your sources do not support your claims?

msgkings January 12, 2016 at 1:40 am

if only for this reminder of just how colossally stupid that Iraq II was. No matter how much revisionists try to revise, let’s not forget the fuck up that was.

As opposed to what? The sanctions that killed a million children?

msgkings January 12, 2016 at 1:42 am

Phrase forgotten (after ‘no oil out of it’): “and it directly led to the region’s current disaster scene”

Rubbish. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the collapse of their brutal client states was only a matter of time. Without supplies of weapons and torturers, Libya and Syria were always going to collapse

27 Thiago Ribeiro January 12, 2016 at 5:02 am

Both articles say Saudi Arabia is a critical– maybe the critical– source of fundind for terrorism-and as much as it is concerned with terrorism inside its borders, it needs to be bullied by the USA to take some perfunctory repressive actions against the funding of terrorist activities outside the country by its elite. But Saudi Arabia’s poor totalitarian government can’t control those things, I am sure. If only it were as simple as killing Shia preachers…
“It is a trivial task to find neo-cons talking about them as well.”
Then, I guess we can thank our lucky stars they never got around to burn the world instead of only Iraq.

28 So Much For Subtlety January 12, 2016 at 5:19 am

It says money comes from Saudi citizens or through charities located in Saudi Arabia. And that the Saudi government is trying to stop it.

So nothing like what you claimed. As a retired Ohio accountant you should know that.

The Saudi “government” consists of a bunch of semi-literate tribal sheikhs sitting around on rugs handing money they keep in large chests. They were proclaiming the world was flat 40 years ago. It is absurd to think they can control what every Saudi does. Or even that they know what a bank transfer is.

29 Thiago Ribeiro January 12, 2016 at 5:47 am

No, it is “failing to prevent” the funding of terrorism (the same way–except much bigger– Iran failed to stop supporting, say, Hezbollah) since before the Bush Administration. Imagine for ten seconds, what would happen if Japan (a country whose government has a much weaker hold on the population) kept “failing to prevent” its charities (ha ha ha “Saudi charities” is the funniest thing I have read in a long time) from funding radical Shinto terrorist activities outside Japan for twenty years. At the very least, I doubt American presidents would keep walking hand-in-hand with the Japanese Emperor, the way W. used to do with King Abdullah (the “reformist” one, remember?) back in the day.
“Saudi Arabia remains the world’s leading source of money for Al Qaeda and other extremist networks and has failed to take key steps requested by U.S. officials to stem the flow, the Bush administration’s top financial counter-terrorism official said Tuesday.” This sentence was written almost seven years after 9-11. Saudi Arabia is the focus point of Sunni terrorism.

30 So Much For Subtlety January 12, 2016 at 6:04 am

Thiago Ribeiro January 12, 2016 at 5:47 am

No, it is “failing to prevent” the funding of terrorism (the same way–except much bigger– Iran failed to stop supporting, say, Hezbollah) since before the Bush Administration.

So basically we are in agreement. Your sources do not say what you claimed they did. The Saudis have not done the best job of stopping people funneling money to terrorists. That is not like Iran’s funding of Hezbollah.

Imagine for ten seconds, what would happen if Japan (a country whose government has a much weaker hold on the population) kept “failing to prevent” its charities (ha ha ha “Saudi charities” is the funniest thing I have read in a long time) from funding radical Shinto terrorist activities outside Japan for twenty years.

There’s a thought. Here’s another one. What if the US government did nothing for twenty years to prevent charities funding terrorism somewhere like, Oh I don’t know, Northern Ireland? Alas NORAID’s long term supporter Teddy Kennedy could not be reached for comment. Although we can be sure it is warm wherever he is.

Saudi Arabia is the focus point of Sunni terrorism.

But the Saudi government does not fund it. You were wrong.

31 Thiago Ribeiro January 12, 2016 at 7:01 am

“Your sources do not say what you claimed they did. The Saudis have not done the best job of stopping people funneling money to terrorists.”
They usually do their best job when they are killing dissidents and preventing women from driving (that is why they are so valuable as an ally for the country whose leaders think “democracy and freedom was everyone’s birth right”). Since neither helps to stop the funding of terrorist activities, it makes sense that 14 years after 9-11, Saudi Arabia still “constitutes the most significant source of funding to Sunni
terrorist groups worldwide.” I guess it is another evidence of the alliance “working well”.
“Here’s another one. What if the US government did nothing for twenty years to prevent charities funding terrorism somewhere like, Oh I don’t know, Northern Ireland? Alas NORAID’s long term supporter Teddy Kennedy could not be reached for comment. Although we can be sure it is warm wherever he is.”
I see. Americans and their allies deserve to be blown by Sunni terrorists suported by Saudi Arabia because they did too little to stop Catholic terrorists. It is not even blowback, it is just bad karma. Maybe it is time to drop the “War on Terror” thing, then. I mean, some people blow pubs, some people fly airplanes into buildings, and diversity is the spice of life. bin Laden was just a bearded Michael Collins.
“But the Saudi government does not fund it. You were wrong.”
OK, the Saudi elite is so smart it has been getting around the controls of one of the most tyranical regimes in existence for decades. That they do it to support the same kind of oppressive Sunni Islam which is the law of the land is Saudi Arabia is just coincidence (if you believe that, I have a big statue of a woman holding a torch in New York you may want to buy). I don’t know if Americans would buy such an explanation if Iranian and Venezuelan (both regimes much less in control than Saudi Arabia’s– the opposition even won parliamentary elections in Venzuela! there are parliamentary elections! there is a Parliament!) “charities” kept trying to blow people in name of Shia Islam and Chavism (aka “21 th Century Socialism”). Apart being a charity case itself, do North Korea have “charities”?

32 Mondfledermaus January 12, 2016 at 10:40 am

IN the Iraq question you seem to have forgotten about the “Project for the New American Century”, of which a big bunch of high ranking officials of the Bush administration were signatories and it called for the invasion of Iraq.

And that Saudi Arabia does not fund terrorism, that is laughable, at the very least individuals from the ruling family directly fund groups that spread Wahhabism, which has a tendency to breed armed radical groups, ask the Pakistanis and Afghans.

33 Thiago Ribeiro January 12, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Making up excuses for Saudi Arabia’s rulers is America’s far-right favorite sport.

34 So Much For Subtlety January 12, 2016 at 5:10 pm

Thiago Ribeiro January 12, 2016 at 7:01 am

They usually do their best job when they are killing dissidents and preventing women from driving

You know, I used to think that replying to these things made a difference. Because, of course, people could not be allowed to be wrong on the internet. But then I realized you are just talking for the sake of talking. You know you have no evidence for what you claim. You know your sources do not support you. You probably don’t even believe it yourself. But the nights are long and lonely in Ohio so you got to keep moving.

Well, good for you.

“I see. Americans and their allies deserve to be blown by Sunni terrorists suported by Saudi Arabia because they did too little to stop Catholic terrorists.”

Blah, blah, blah. This is what you do when you know you have lost. You throw some more mud in the hope of distracting people from the fact that you lost. Ohio must be really boring.

OK, the Saudi elite is so smart it has been getting around the controls of one of the most tyranical regimes in existence for decades.

Three guys sitting on a rug find it hard to micromanage everyone’s life.

Mondfledermaus January 12, 2016 at 10:40 am

And that Saudi Arabia does not fund terrorism, that is laughable, at the very least individuals from the ruling family directly fund groups that spread Wahhabism, which has a tendency to breed armed radical groups, ask the Pakistanis and Afghans.

Name three.

35 Thiago Ribeiro January 12, 2016 at 10:15 pm

Those poor, poor Saudi leaders can’t control their “charities”. We are lucky the Castros don’t have any charities they fail to prevent from blowing Americans.
“Three guys sitting on a rug find it hard to micromanage everyone’s life.”
Unless this “everyone” is women, Shias Jews, Christians and dissidents. And they have hundreds of princes, not to mention bureaucrats, military officers and assorted thugs. Has been enough to keep then in charge. And don’t badmouth the three guys on the rug, they are the ones making the alliance “work well” (for them, at least).
“But then I realized you are just talking for the sake of talking. You know you have no evidence for what you claim. You know your sources do not support you. You probably don’t even believe it yourself. But the nights are long and lonely in Ohio so you got to keep moving.”
Evidently, the leaders of one of the most oppressive regimes in the World knows have nothing to do with their “charities” (I still have a hard time suppressing laughter when I read “Saudi charities”) funding the terrorist arms of their favorite ideology. It is all a big coincidence. Seriously, how desperate can you get?

36 Rock Lobster January 11, 2016 at 5:29 pm

I couldn’t agree with you more. I don’t want to overly generalize, but in my experience non-Americans are much more likely to believe in conspiracy theories about the US government. I’ve heard it all, and from otherwise intelligent, educated people: 9/11 as an inside job, AIDS as population control, the Illuminati, the pyramid eye on the dollar bill, and so on.

I just recently spoke to an Irish fellow who believed that Adam Sandler, of all people, is part of the Illuminati and knew about 9/11 and predicted it. He also believed that all of Ireland’s politicians are secretly British.

I really can’t account for the difference. I would guess it’s that inherent human bias to view outsiders as acting in concert when in reality they’re just as internally divided as ones own in-group.

37 Thor January 11, 2016 at 10:27 pm

It is apparently worse in the Middle East, where almost everyone ascribes to the US a bunch of powers and capabilities that no state could ever possess. “My internet keeps cutting out — must be the Americans trying to listen in.” “Why doesn’t America provide my village with better drinking water?” “America with its listening posts knows exactly where the terrorists are.” Etc.

38 Moreno Klaus January 12, 2016 at 5:15 am

How many Americans believe CIA gunned down Kennedy? I dont think foreigners are very different than americans, maybe in the Middle East they believe more in conspiracy theories, and rightly so, if you look at their history!

39 RM January 11, 2016 at 5:47 pm

@Tommy, I agree with you. For sure the U.S. has its self-interests, as every county does. But the conspiracy theories that one hears in the developing world boggles the mind.

40 Bartram's Garden January 11, 2016 at 6:04 pm

~40% of US Democrats think 9/11 was an inside job, for crying out loud.

41 Jan January 12, 2016 at 6:02 am

Nope.

42 So Much For Subtlety January 11, 2016 at 5:19 pm

One of the side effects of Wikileaks was to show the real agenda behind US foreign policy. They were real documents showing what real diplomats were really concerned about.

Which was promoting democracy and freedom.

Yes, Arjun, all the evidence is that is precisely what America cares about it. It shouldn’t.

43 Moreno Klaus January 12, 2016 at 5:12 am

You are being sarcastic right? 🙂

44 carlolspln January 11, 2016 at 3:19 pm

The NorKor official is perceptive.

The last thing the USA wants is a united Korea, because it would potentially lose its ~ 30,000 troops based on the peninsula, along with its raison d’être in occupying the Nihon archipelago: ~ 55,000 troops [in literally dozens of bases].

All there in the Western Pacific to counter the CHI ‘threat’, just one country [N. Korea] away.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Forces_Korea
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Forces_Japan#U.S._presence_on_Okinawa

45 MOFO. January 11, 2016 at 3:25 pm

Total nonsense. There is no reason to believe that we couldnt maintain a base in a unified Korea. Even if we couldnt, we have plenty more in the area.

The idea that our NK policy is driven by a desire to maintain a smallish advantage in the extremely unlikely event we ever got into a ground war in China is silly.

46 Bob from Ohio January 11, 2016 at 4:34 pm

30,000 troops would be useless in a “ground war in China”. Heck, 300,000 would be.

“Nihon archipelago” is an interesting choice of words. Most people call it Japan.

I think the government of the Nihon archipelago has its own reasons for wanting those US bases.

47 carlolspln January 11, 2016 at 4:35 pm

re: ‘Total nonsense’:

China would never allow a military presence by the USA on its doorstep.

‘ground war in China’: Priceless ™

48 So Much For Subtlety January 11, 2016 at 6:47 pm

carlolspln January 11, 2016 at 4:35 pm

China would never allow a military presence by the USA on its doorstep.

I think the Chinese are smarter than you give them credit for. After all, what would be the first thing that would happen if the US left East Asia?

Japan has an active but non-official nuclear weapons program. They have the world’s largest supplies of plutonium and an active ICBM program. If they took their time, stopped for tea breaks, did the job properly, about half an hour after the US pulled out, they would become an open nuclear power.

South Korea has been stopped twice from developing nuclear weapons. If the US pulled out it would be a race to see if they could build one before the North liberated Seoul. But there is no technical obstacle in their way.

Taiwan has been stopped once from developing nuclear weapons. Their soon-to-be DPP government probably doesn’t want them but there is nothing to stop them making one.

So if there were no US land bases near China, China would be faced with three new nuclear powers in a time frame that varied from minutes to a few years. One of them being Japan. How do you think the Chinese feel about that?

The Chinese government actively encourages the US Navy to use Hong Kong. They are not stupid.

49 carlolspln January 11, 2016 at 8:51 pm

Data?

Links?

Sources, anything?

I think the CHI gov’t is smarter than you give them credit for.

50 carlolspln January 11, 2016 at 9:00 pm

“The Chinese government actively encourages the US Navy to use Hong Kong. They are not stupid”

No, but you are: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/1795055/us-considers-sending-aircraft-ships-near-disputed-south?page=all

51 So Much For Subtlety January 12, 2016 at 4:25 am

Data and links to what?

It would take me, oh, seconds to find such data or such links. But so far you are not worth it. Tell me what you want evidence for and why it is worth two seconds of my time to find something you should know anyway.

52 So Much For Subtlety January 11, 2016 at 5:25 pm

The US has been trying to get its troops out of South Korea for a generation. George H. W. Bush tried. The South Koreans kick up such a fuss they have stayed.

America never wanted in to Korea. Remember one of the key signals for the Korean War was Acheson excluding South Korea from the area the US would defend. If the war hadn’t been such bad PR, if the North had been more subtle about it, the US would have let it go.

Rightly. It was a mistake to defend South Korea. They should have let the North have it.

53 Thor January 11, 2016 at 10:30 pm

I remember the street level protests. Apparently the complaints and worries went on at much higher levels too.

54 Walt G January 11, 2016 at 3:37 pm

The honest answer is bluster.

55 bjk January 11, 2016 at 5:52 pm

One of the Clinton NK negotiators (Gallucci) said that the North Koreans were convinced the negotiations were going to play a big role in the presidential race. Gallucci wasn’t able to convince them that Americans didn’t care.

56 rayward January 11, 2016 at 6:36 pm

“Wit stresses their realism and sophistication as negotiators, and urges us not to think of them as lunatics”. Of course, all of our enemies are lunatics. Germans killed 21 million from 1933 to 1945. Are Germans lunatics?

57 Roll Elephant Tide January 12, 2016 at 12:24 pm

Judging from Moreno Klaus’s commentary, the German authorities’ response to organized attacks on their young women, Merkel’s moral preening, their bankers circa 2006, their military brooms, etc etc, the answer is self evident.

58 Anonymous January 11, 2016 at 7:17 pm

This is the common problem of assuming others would think and act as one’s self would. The North Korean negotiator projects his thoughts and values on his American counterpart. I guess it is part of the human condition to wildly swing between dehumanizing the “Other” (i.e. thinking they are lunatics or savages) and assuming our values and thoughts are obvious and universal and everyone is basically the same. I see a Right vs Left wing dichotomy here.

59 Yancey Ward January 11, 2016 at 8:31 pm

The question was a good one, but the answer was bad. The real reason that the US says they won’t allow North Korea nuclear weapons is that president after president, and secretary of state after secretary of state is simply blowing smoke out of their asses. The same thing is going on with regards to Iran- the US isn’t doing anything to stop Iran, and won’t do anything to stop Iran if the Iranians do want nuclear weapons- the decision is all Iran’s. For political reasons, a US president won’t ever state the truth in this regard, so all you get is charade.

60 ladderff January 11, 2016 at 8:47 pm

Great thread, SMFS.

It must be very difficult for other parties such as DPRK to negotiate with USG given that it sees nothing at all abnormal about allowing its personnel to rotate through “academia” and “journalism” and make public whatever they feel like about the details of the negotiations.

61 Tom T. January 11, 2016 at 11:43 pm

A baffling remark by the NK negotiator. Surely he knows that NK says all sorts of things that it does not follow up on. Acting like he has discovered this behavior for the first time seems disingenuous, and it causes one to wonder what his agenda was in making the observation.

62 Thiago Ribeiro January 12, 2016 at 5:10 pm

But his point is, why does America do this specific thing?

63 Rev. Right January 12, 2016 at 12:40 am

““Why do the president and secretary of state keep saying that the United States will not allow North Korea to have nuclear weapons when in fact you are not doing much to stop us?”

Actually, it appears the North Koreans know quite a lot about the United States.

64 Affe January 12, 2016 at 1:19 am

I just tested a hydrogen bomb… IN MY PANTS.

65 CH4 Forevermore January 12, 2016 at 8:58 am

I think that was much more likely to have been a methane bomb.

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