Category: Foreign Policy (Page 1 of 17)

U.S. designed the World Trade Organization, TPP to benefit itself; Trump wants to stop the benefits

Donald Trump has made his intentions to leave the World Trade Organization clear with his proposed “FART” bill, which would put the US in violation of WTO rules. He has been telling aids for a while, it has been reported, that he wants to leave the organization.

“We always get fucked by [the WTO] I don’t know why we’re in it. The WTO is designed by the rest of the world to screw the United States,” he said in one such rant.

Statements like this expose the ignorance of Trump and the incoherence of his isolationist positions. It is often the case that the truth is the exact opposite of what Trump says. There could be no better case than this one.

Who does Trump think designed the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, and other international organizations?

“The United States was a leading force in establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995,” the United States Trade Representative wrote.

Of course the United States did. The US is the world’s strongest power and has been since the end of World War II. The US has had the leadership and leverage to influence the rules behind the international organizations it takes the lead in creating. The US leadership since World War II has been a key factor in US hegemony since then. It helped the US win World War II.

It is why America can win special benefits when it negotiates (not when it throws Starbursts at Germany’s PM, as Trump has done):

In 2000, the U.S. won special provisions guaranteeing that the U.S. can export 360,000 tons of rice to Japan each year, nearly half the total amount of tariff-free rice Japan imports. Now that the U.S. is negotiating unilaterally with Japan, it is likely that the U.S. will again win special treatment.

Trump wants to abandon that. He has little to point to when it comes to unfair trade terms with American allies. Trump left the TPP, the deal America was leading the way in writing. He whines about America’s nominal trade deficit with Canada, for example, but American exports to Canada make up 48% of all trade between the US and Canada—it is almost exactly balanced, that is.

Trade has expanded America’s economy and increased its people’s standard of living. Overseas troops expand America’s power projection. International organizations can be utilized for the pursuit of America’s interests.

Without them, America will see its power decline.

1949 All Over Again? How US-NK Deal Threatens ROK’s National Defense

The June 12 summit between the United States of America and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has been hailed by Trump supporters as a historic success and received generally credulous coverage in the press as a harbinger of peace. The truth could not be farther from this naive wishful thinking. In fact, the real outcome of the Singapore summit was and is frankly miserable.

There was no promise for complete or verifiable dismantlement, not even a promise for any kind of denuclearization whatsoever. North Korea repeated the same vapid rhetoric like they had said many times before. Yet despite Kim Jong-Un giving him few concessions, Trump remarkably caved in on US-Korea joint defense exercises, a long-sought-after goal of the Kim regime, and even defended the thuggish dictator from criticisms of his human rights record.

“Complete, Verifiable, and Irreversible Dismantlement” (CVID) is probably the only denuclearization model that will work with North Korea, considering its track record of lying and dishonest negotiation. In both 1992 and 2005, North Korea, strongly asserted the a willingness for denuclearization and made promises to stick to a process, but each time, the rogue kingdom quickly broke its promises after extracting the concessions it desired. This time, American officials had talked about CVID in the run-up to the meeting, but the statement that emerged out of Singapore made no mention of CVID whatsoever.

An important and critical difference between CVID and the meaningless PR phrases in the document is that simply breaking a CVID agreement could be a direct justification for war in an extreme case. [Editor’s Comment: Is there a source for this?] Not only Trump, but also his officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton who are notable hardliners claimed to make CVID happen in the first place.

Pompeo was angry when asked by reporters about the lack of agreement for verification mechanisms. “I find that question insulting and ridiculous and, frankly, ludicrous. “I just have to be honest with you. It’s a game and one ought not play games with serious matters like this,” he said at a press conference in Seoul on June 13, the day after the meeting. He asserted that there was other work done that did not appear in the public statement. One may forgive observers for not particularly trusting North Korea’s seriousness to follow through on any hypothetical agreement that it did not even agree to put on paper.

Secondly, Trump administration has announced that UFG (Ulchi Freedom Guardian), which is the US-ROK annual joint military exercise, has been cancelled due to the summit. The status of other US-ROK joint exercises remains in doubt as the details of Trump’s promise to end what Trump has referred to as “war games” is ironed out. This decision is extremely irresponsible and ignorant; UFG and other cooperative exercises have existed to practice military and civic operations in wartime contingency. As the name suggests, there are defense operations to maintain preparedness in the face of extreme and intense North Korean threats.

Read More

On Trump’s meltdown at the G7

On the day the G7 started, Donald Trump was agitating for Russia to be allowed to join the G7/G8, despite the fact that Russia still occupies Ukrainian land and interfered in the American election (and the U.S. has a nominal trade deficit with Russia, an issue Trump makes of G7 members). Then after Trump had already agreed to the G7 joint statement and left the meeting early, he withdrew his agreement in a fit of social media rage after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a statement against Trump’s tariffs.

Initial reactions from B+D Facebook page and Editor:

U.S. doesn’t need anything from North Korea and shouldn’t meet

Kim Jong-un has threatened twice in the past week to cancel the meeting that he himself proposed with U.S. president Donald Trump. He appears to be acting out in his typical manner in order to try to put pressure on the United States and Korea and to win concessions.

The United States isn’t in a dire position, however, and the U.S. doesn’t need anything from Kim Jong-un so badly as to justify making extreme concessions. If Kim doesn’t want to denuclearize for limited concessions, if he is unwilling to negotiate sincerely, then the U.S. shouldn’t meet him.

The first time Kim threatened to pull out was after Trump’s National Security Advisor and former Bush advisor John Bolton called for a “Libya-style” denuclearization. Bolton is a hawk who has long called openly for overthrow of the North Korea regime, a worthy and moral goal (if reasonably possible) to be sure, but talking about or implying it obviously isn’t something that will help get to an agreement for Kim to voluntarily denuclearize.

The next and present reason Kim is using to threaten going forward with the meeting is much less reasonable. He wants the U.S. and Republic of Korea to end joint-self defense exercises. He thinks those exercises–and indeed the presence of U.S. troops in Korea–threaten his regime. Those troops are present because his grandfather invaded the Republic of Korea, his father sunk a Korean ship, and he shelled an island with civilian residents. They kidnapped Koreans and Japanese and tortured people for watching DVDs. Aggressive acts and attacks beyond borders are almost always caused by the totalitarian regime north of the 38th parallel.

The U.S. and Korea have already delayed military exercises, before the Korean Olympics, and now before the proposed meeting. But North Korea’s foreign ministry continues to make demands, saying, as characterized by Reuters, “the future of summit is entirely up to Washington.”

Well, if Kim doesn’t want this summit to happen, then it doesn’t have to happen. Washington doesn’t have to–and shouldn’t–do anything more for it to happen than it already has.

Read More

The real Nobel comparison? Kim Dae-jung and the failed Sunshine Policy

Donald Trump’s supporters and those optimistic about prospects for his apparently upcoming meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un are preemptively calling for Trump to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Remember, Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize at the end of just his first year in office, before he even accomplished anything? And the prize was criticized by conservatives then, and rightly so. I address the argument in my new video, contained at the end of the post. But a better comparison might be Korea’s third democratically-elected president, Kim Dae-jung (president from 1998-2003).

Kim met with Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang in 2000. As with the meeting between Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un and the proposed meeting between Trump and Kim, there were high hopes for “peace” and expectations that things would change. Kim Dae-jung began implementation of the “Sunshine Policy”, which offered unconditional aid to the North and opened up the Kaesong Industrial Region. The idea was to promote good will, but North Korea’s regime took much of the aid for itself and its military, and the policy did not prevent North Korea from developing its nuclear program.

The Nobel committee, as they often do, awarded the prize prematurely. The meeting happened, but nothing substantial ultimately came out of the meeting. Later it was revealed that the Kim Dae-jung administration had paid the Kim Jong-il government US$500 million for the meeting.

Kim might have been deserving of the Peace Prize for his non-violent campaigning for democracy in Korea. He nearly lost his life multiple times, once when he was kidnapped by the Park Chung-hee government, while living in exile in Japan in 1973, and nearly murdered, and again when he was sentenced to death after the Chun Doo-hwan government’s 1980 coup and martial law crackdown. The Nobel committee says he was awarded “for his work for democracy and human rights in South Korea and in East Asia in general, and for peace and reconciliation with North Korea in particular.”

See my video on Trump and the Nobel:

Read More

A disaster of a summit

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying could have chosen a better Chinese proverb to describe the meeting between North Korean sadist Kim Jong-un and Korean president Moon Jae-in. “Disasters are never powerful enough to separate real brothers, and a smile is all they need to eliminate the hard feelings,” Hua said.

And VX nerve agent is all it takes for a dictator to murder his actual brother.

The headlines said in 1994 and 2007 that North Korea would end its nuclear program. The headlines say now that they will make a peace deal.

The negotiators on the North Korean side are wily and skilled manipulators. Sitting on the Korean side was a liberal president with sympathies for “peace,” who served in the Roh Moo-hyun administration, which abstained from voting on a UN resolution condemning North Korea’s human rights abuses; and a chief presidential secretary, Im Jong-suk, who served prison time for organizing a propaganda trip to North Korea as a radical student activist in the 1980’s. The chief American negotiator, should a purported meeting go forward, is skilled at getting manipulated, has called Kim “very honorable” for hosting a series of propaganda summits in order to boost his own standing and already appears to trust North Korea enough to give them credit for things it hasn’t agreed to.

These are not things that inspire confidence.

Read More

Before anyone sells you a “short war” with North Korea…

On November 28th, amidst a relative calm, North Korea tested its intercontinental ballistic missile. It was a matter of time, before North Korea managed to develop a system which is capable to reach mainland US. Regardless of whatever Washington might say, North Korea did what it intended to do. They have now successfully demonstrated that their weapons system is capable, and has achieved what we call the minimum credible deterrence, vis a vis an adversary.

There has been a misconception about what North Korea wanted to do. What, for all practical purposes, is the aim of North Korea. The reality has always been, that North Korea wants to survive. The Westphalian state system which ran from the 19th century to 1991, was upended with unipolarity. North Korea internalized the lessons of Saddam, Kosovo, and most importantly Gaddafi. The toppling of these regimes, and the resultant chaos, and the inability of these states to deter any foreign invasion, often at the cost of destruction and personal deaths of the leaders are a stark reminder that there’s no such thing as international order, but simply great power whims. And the recent experience of unipolarity was not uniform.

North Korea’s missile flew around 1000 KM, but went to an altitude of 4500 KM, and stayed up for over 50 mins. The missile trajectory, straight up to the sky instead of angled path shows that it is capable of withstanding enormous atmospheric pressure on reentry. In a normal ballistic missile trajectory, it would cover the continental United States.

The reality has not dawned in Washington, perhaps. Beijing and Moscow understand the fait accompli, but DC is still on with the basest of talking points. That North Korea will never be accepted as a nuclear power (it is), or the fact that North Korean nuclear weapons provide a ready deterrence (it does). The latest salvo comes from Nikki Haley in the United Nations. While she started with long-standing US position of no war with North Korea, she also mentioned that the “North Korean regime would be utterly destroyed” if there were a war between it and the US.

This is not going to happen.

Read More

The Iran protests and American journalistic hackery

Before new years and continuing until the present, Iranians have taken to the streets to demand political and economic reforms. Over 400 protesters have been reportedly arrested and 20 killed. Having cracked down violently on protests in 2009, too, the Iranian government appears to face a crisis of legitimacy.

Much of the commentary from the political right, however, launders the protesters’ real grievances to make partisan political points. Take Fox News opinion columnist Stephen L. Miller (@RedSteeze on Twitter). Yesterday evening (US time), he had published a garden variety “Why aren’t liberal feminists supporting Muslim women in the Middle East?” article.

In this case, the specific language was: “Women are leading in Iran. Where is their voice of support from the left?”

So the question must be asked: Where are the women’s movement supporters in the United States and Europe, which gathered en masse to protest a newly inaugurated American president last year?

The question presumes that a protest in America against Iran’s government would have much influence in toppling Iran’s government. It presumes Americans shouldn’t care about the actions of their own government–or at least shouldn’t care any more about their own government’s actions than they do about those of foreign governments. After all, why should Americans protest bad governance and abuses of power in America if they don’t protest about foreign countries?

The question could be asked about anything. Why hasn’t Stephen L. Miller written anything about North Korea’s human rights abuses lately? Why hasn’t he written about democratic backsliding in Poland and Hungary governments?

Hell, Miller was outraged about the IRS reportedly scrutinizing tax exemption applications from Tea Party groups. Even if a conspiracy against the Tea Party existed (and it didn’t–liberal groups applying for tax exempt status were scrutinized, too, according to an audit conducted years later), would it really be as bad as South African leader Jacob Zuma’s hundreds of crimes of corruption?

One can imagine the story framed in Miller’s terms:
So the question must be asked: Where are the conservatives and Tea Partiers in the United States, which gathered en masse to protest a newly inaugurated American president on Tax Day?

Another cliché gaining being pushed on Iran is the typical: “Why isn’t the media covering this story that I read about in the media?” Stephen Miller wrote on December 30:

Read More

Did the US and Iraq really defeat ISIS? Not so fast.

David French has a piece bemoaning that the Western media hasn’t reported America defeated ISIS in Iraq. Iraqi’s military, with American support, pushed ISIS out of Mosul and most of the area they occupied in Iraq, and now Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory. Iraq’s PM has a clear-self interest to declare victory, but it’s true that ISIS lost ground.

“So why does no one seem to care?” French wrote.

It’s just not that clear of a victory. Iraq remains an unstable, low-quality semi-democracy–the US didn’t accomplish its objectives there–and there’s no reason to believe that Iraq won’t ever be threatened by militants or terrorists again in the near future.

I won’t spend too much time on this, but here are a few relevant sources for why people should not get too excited about what is possibly an incomplete and short-lasting victory:
Iraq’s PM has a clear-self interest to declare victory, but it’s true that ISIS lost ground. – AFP

As Sumantra and I have written for The National Interest,

It is important to remember that the liberation of Mosul is not something to be proud of just yet. Economically, it is a damaged city—in worse condition than Stalingrad or Dresden. Materially, it is a commodity that nobody wishes to touch. Strategically, it is important—but that too is a curse, as it’s almost inevitable that a backlash will transpire, and Sunni civilians will suffer.

Unfortunately, Mosul is only one among many cities on the fault line of what increasingly appears to be an Iranian race to form a land bridge to the Mediterranean against periodic Sunni opposition. People will continue to suffer. Iraq’s central government is not, and will not be, capable of continuing to safeguard the area from falling further into the hands of jihadists. And the flawed counterinsurgency tactics of the West mean that the jihadist threat will merely go dormant until the next opportune moment.

Read our full article: Winning the hearts and minds won’t eliminate ISIS

Trump campaigns for himself in speech to Korean legislature

Donald Trump can’t help but brag and campaign to an American audience in any speech he gives abroad.

The latest victims of Trump’s egotism were Korean legislators who heard him speak to their chamber. After going over the inspiring history of Korea’s development, Trump pivoted to one of his favorite topics:

Like Korea, and since my election exactly one year ago today, I celebrate with you.

The awkward syntax makes it seem like he only has been celebrating Korea’s success since his election. Probably he meant to say “since I read a one-page briefing a few days ago.”

Either way, he went on:

The United States is going through something of a miracle itself. Our stock market is at an all-time high. Unemployment is at a 17-year low. We are defeating ISIS. We are strengthening our judiciary, including a brilliant Supreme Court justice, and one and on and on.

That Trump’s overbearing language has become routine shouldn’t make it anymore acceptable. Miracle? Yahoo Finance’s Myles Udland reports, “The U.S. economy added 261,000 jobs in October… … Economists were looking for job gains of 313,000… … Wage gains in October were disappointing…”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie was attacking the economic conditions in Virginia in a race that he lost by nine, a referendum on Trumpism.

The stock market numbers and unemployment rate have been on long-term trajectories, of course. Unemployment has declined from 9% in 2010 to 7.9% in 2013, 5.7% in 2015, 4.8% at the start of 2017, and 4.1% now, and Trump hasn’t enacted any major economic policies in his ten months as president.

The mention of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is most insulting of all to Korean lawmakers, who have justices of their own to approve. Gorsuch is a qualified profession, as are the other eight justices on the Supreme Court, and there’s no reason he merits mention whatsoever in Korea.

But it’s a long-standing tendency of his to go off on brazen, self-congratulatory tangents at what are supposed to be speeches about serious international issues.

Read More

Page 1 of 17

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

Get the most important and interesting articles right at your inbox. Sign up for B+D periodic emails.