Is holding summits that agree to the vague demands of the Norks without consulting with the other alliance partners bad ?
No, in concept.
In most areas, our thinking on North Korea is aligned — I think that any American President should tread carefully. I can imagine there may be circumstances where it can be harmful and result in deaths — given that there are over 23,400 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in South Korea. There is never a dull moment on the Korean peninsula and for now at least, President Moon's administration in Seoul will be breathing a sigh of relief.
Despite the current sigh of relief, Americans must be prepared that the 950,000 strong North Korean Army, as an aggressor, will shoot when push comes to shove, just as they did on 15 Jun 1999, on 29 Jun 2002, on 26 Mar 2010 (ROKS Cheonan sinking) and on 23 Nov 2010 (bombardment of Yeonpyeong).
• In Jun 2002, the South Korean patrol boat PKM-357 (Chamsuri-class vessel) succumbed to damage and sank in battle — with 6 killed and 18 wounded — when it was hosting the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
• I note that for Korea, the replacement for the Chamsuri-class is the Yun Youngha-class missile patrol vessel or PKX-A(PKG), that is armed with 4 ASCMs. Even the PKX-B variant includes 130 mm guided rockets on the stern, on top of a 76mm main gun.
• Learning from the Nov 2010 bombardment of Yeonpyeong, the South quickly acquired a long range precision missile strike capability.
Because if so, see the 2007 inter-Korea summit (where Roh reportedly agreed to surrender ROK sovereignty in the West Sea-affirmed in 2018
-and also IIRC reportedly agreed with KJI to discuss removal of US troops from the peninsula. I say "reportedly" because one of Roh's staffers destroyed the transcripts afterwards
). Or is it only bad when Trump is doing it?
Good point and I like the elegance of your expression. I would need to think about how to respond to your post accurately describing the South Koreans as their own worse enemy.
By way of clarification, I am not a fan of the current Moon administration. In April 2018, Moon and Kim signed the Panmunjeom Declaration — which is now no longer relevant. Back in 2018, they agreed to work together to reduce sharp military tensions, avoid war, and try to build an enduring peace regime between the two Koreas. As for the nuclear dimension of the talks, the two sides acknowledged the common goal of completely denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula with support and cooperation from the international community.
I am even less impressed with the Trump administration's many foreign policy failures, especially his latest Middle East "Peace" plan. See: Mid East Peace Plan/Palestine
Is holding summits where we agree to ridiculous demands of the Norks to keep summits going bad with no expectation that they will work? If so, see the Leap Day
agreement (which lasted whole weeks before nK broke it) or to go really far back, the agreement we signed with them to release the PUEBLO sailors...and then immediately and publicly renounced as soon as those guys were in our hands again?
These are fantastic examples. Thank you for sharing.
Or is it only bad when Trump does it?
The reflex is to review the impact of American actions on others and present an alternate view, Trump or otherwise. IMO, the issue is the inability of the current Trump Administration to attract talent to staff positions relating to foreign policy -- leading to being adrift in policy terms. For most American Presidents, the holding of summits, advances three foreign policy objectives:
(1) To strengthen relations with American counterparts in other countries;
(2) To facilitate public-private sector and private-sector deals; and
(3) To promote the priorities of the administration.
How low do we have to set the bar for Trump (in his summits with Kim) in the terms of competence?
Q1: Did the Kim-Trump summit strengthen relations with American counterparts in Japan or Korea?
Q2: Was there any attempt to review carrots available to encourage increased cooperation between Korea or Japan, to present a unified economic front to North Korea (and also China)?
Q3: What were Trump Administration’s priorities that was advanced when he called for the summit with kim?
I leave these rhethorical questions as food for thought.
Indeed, if we're going to promote a peaceful resolution to the problem of having too many Koreas on the Korean peninsula-and since 1994 or so, no one's really argued or probably even thought too hard about the obvious alternative course of action-Trump's love of dumb spectacle is actually helpful, since the Norks are going to demand it as well, and with Trump being so risible, it really costs the US little.
It is possible to argue that South Korea has no autonomy over its own unification policies that will gain traction with the North. Just behind the 250 km-long DMZ (which separates North and South Korea), South Korea has about 600,000 active and 3,100,000 reserve troops that are ready to guard against the North Korean threat.
- The DMZ is a 2 km-wide buffer, stretching coast to coast across the peninsula, lined by both sides with razor wire, heavy armaments and tank traps.
- It is 60 km (37 miles) from Seoul and 210 km (130 miles) from the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
- Inside the DMZ is a Joint Security Area (JSA). The so-called peace village of Panmunjom, where the armistice that halted the Korean War was signed in 1953, is located in the 800-metre-wide and 400-metre-long JSA zone.
- A Military Demarcation Line (MDL) marks the boundary between the two Koreas.
If Americans prefer to go it alone, often times, your country has enough military power to go it alone, should it decide to act wisely or unwisely -- which gives rise to the usual recourse to American exceptionalism. The only problem with an unchallenged faith in American exceptionalism is makes it harder for the average American to understand why other countries may be less enthusiastic about US dominance
, and are alarmed by what President Trump represents. Under Trump, foreign leaders are frequently irritated by what they see as U.S. hypocrisy, whether the subject is nuclear weapons proliferation, conformity with international law, sanctions on Iran, American trade wars, or the current American tendency to condemn the conduct of others while ignoring its own failings.
But more than that worry, the parameters for intra-Korean sphere of action have narrowed considerably. I honestly do not know what more the world can expect from President Moon at this point to show that he is no longer anti-American.
It's a price you're going to have to pay to move the peace movement forward. Yes, antagonizing the ROK over the cost of housing troops is dumb. But it's not like the ROKs elected a guy with long ties to a deeply anti-American segment of the ROK left before Trump was even a nominee.
Agreed. The Koreans have an aspirational ministry that can do nothing in the current climate. It is called the Ministry of Unification and it is an executive department. Setting a low bar at the start is important — like calling it an effort at normalisation of relations in the Korean Peninsular (which has not been achieved as the two Koreas are technically at war). Instead they have a high bar as the South Korean starting point for talks with the North. Anyone with common sense will know that they are setting themselves up for failure.
And let me be clear that I don't like Trump. I voted against him both in my party primary and in the general. But it's very easy for the media to single out Trump, when he's following the same path (if not in the same manner) as people before him, and not nearly as central to changes as many like to allege.
Thanks for explaining.