4 March 2019   Leave a comment

Alex Ward has written an article that summarizes some of the consequences of the failed summit meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim. Despite the lack of progress, the US and South Korea have decided to continue to suspend their joint military exercises. The press release announcing the decision is a masterful example of bureaucratic doublespeak:

“During a phone call on March 2, Minister of National Defense Jeong Kyeong-doo and the Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan assessed the outcomes of the Summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim and discussed the further coordination of measures to establish complete denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, as well as steps to maintain the readiness of combined forces…

“The Secretary and Minister reviewed and approved the Alliance decisions recommended by the Commander of U.S. Forces Korea and the Republic of Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff on the combined exercise and training program. Following close coordination, both sides decided to conclude the KEY RESOLVE and FOAL EAGLE series of exercises.”

I had to read the press release several times to determine the logical thread from “approved” to “recommended” to “close coordination” to “conclude”. But the press release was framed so that the fact that the US was continuing to meet one of North Korea’s key demands was obscured as much as possible.

Another interesting aspect of the summit was that North Korea did not stop its cyber activities against US banks, utilities, and other institutions while Kim was meeting Trump. The New York Times has an article outlining the scale of the North Korea attacks. The article describes the North Korean strategy:

“North Korean hackers have been tied to attacks on banks all around the world for financial gain — a rarity among government-affiliated hackers but not surprising for a country ravaged by economic sanctions. The ‘WannaCry’ attack, which paralyzed more than 150 organizations around the globe in 2017, was also traced to North Korea.

“Mr. Cha, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said cyberattacks remained the ‘third leg’ of North Korea’s overall military strategy. ‘They’re never going to compete with the United States and South Korea soldier to soldier, tank for tank,’ he said. ‘So they have moved to an asymmetric strategy of nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and the third leg is cyber, that we really didn’t become aware of until Sony.’”

It is not at all clear how the failure of the summit will unfold. But there was an awful lot of intrigue in the background that suggests a very unstable resolution.

Posted March 4, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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