1 July 2019   Leave a comment

The New York Times ran a fascinating article today, written by two very reputable reporters, Michael Crowley and David Sanger. They assert that the Trump Administration is contemplating changing its objectives with regard to North Korea. For nearly two years the objective was defined as “the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization (CVID) of North Korea.” Now, according to the report, the objective may be a freeze of current capabilities. A freeze would enshrine North Korea’s status as a nuclear power with between 20 and 60 nuclear bombs and a an intercontinental ballistic missile.

That objective is far more realistic than denuclearization which was never possible and I would support the move as long as there are adequate safeguards to verify the freeze and as long as Japan and South Korea are comfortable with that situation. But we should not forget how we got to this point: backing down from an objective that was supported with threats of “fire and fury” is a strategy that corrodes the credibility of the US. That credibility was also challenged by the “truce” in the US-China trade war which included the US opening up its markets to Huawei, a company that had previously been blackballed by the US.

On the anniversary of the British handover of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China in 1997, protesters in Hong Kong rushed government buildings in protest over policies proposed by the Beijing government. The protests were extraordinary and finally suppressed by riot police using tear gas and rubber bullets. The Beijing government has two problems with the demonstrations. First, it does not wish to allow the protests to encourage similar behavior in other parts of China. Second, it does not wish to scare away those investors who have a crucial economic interest in protecting investments that are necessary for the capital needs of the country. Trying to balance these two objectives is very difficult, but at some point, to preserve order in the country, the state will have to prevent citizens from protesting in ways that challenge the authority of the Communist Party and the Chinese state.

Posted July 1, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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