14 June 2018   Leave a comment

Dr. Jeffrey Lewis is a scholar at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and he has written a short essay on the radically different interpretations of the Singapore Summit held by the US and the North Korean sides.  Not surprisingly, each side has a different interpretation of the 400-word communique signed by each.  The US continues to insist that North Korea must get rid of its nuclear weapons before sanctions are eased, while the North Koreans are heralding the easing of sanctions soon.

“For Kim Jong Un, it is his nuclear weapons that brought Trump to the table. He is happy to talk and suspend some tests, but seems prepared to draw the line at actually abandoning the programs that brought him to this point…..

“Trump, on the other hand, has promised loudly and repeatedly that this process will end with North Korea’s disarmament. He has made it clear that Kim Jong Un must give up his nuclear weapons. In this way, the dispute about whether to proceed all at once or in a gradual process is really a dispute about the ultimate goal: Is North Korea’s disarmament an aspiration, one that Kim Jong Un may leave unfilled? Or is it something that must happen now — or at least no later than the end of Donald Trump’s first term? On this issue, the parties appear as far apart as ever.”

There should be no question about which side will prevail on this issue.  The US has no additional leverage other than the threat of war to coerce the North Koreans.  The North Koreans will simply continue the negotiations, and as long as both sides are talking, the US will be prevented from using force.


Bloomberg is reporting that the US will impose tariffs on about $50 billion of Chinese imports on Friday.  The list includes about 1,500 products, but they are targeted on the Chinese technology sector.  According to Bloomberg: “The administration has said it wants to aim its tariffs at industries identified in China’s 2025 plan. ‘Made in China 2025’ identified 10 industries that the world’s second-biggest economy wants to become globally competitive, and dominant in during this century.”  The tariffs are therefore more than just economic instruments–they are also strategic, which will make the Chinese even more angry.  We will have to see how the Chinese respond, but it is hard to imagine that the Chinese will welcome the scheduled talks on trade with the US.


US President Trump apparently questioned the stance of Western allies opposed to the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 in discussions at the recent G7 meeting in Canada.  According to sources, Mr. Trump pointed out that the majority of people in Crimea speak Russian and that the government of Ukraine was so corrupt that its sovereignty should not have been defended.  If these reports are accurate, Mr. Trump is clearly signaling a retreat from the rules-based liberal world order in which aggression against a sovereign state is not a sufficient reason for collective security.  That stance is an implicit endorsement of a return to a balance of power system.

Posted June 14, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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