NoKo: Different With Trump?

As I sit with bated breath awaiting the announcement from the South Korean, National Security Advisor I’m reminded of a few things. Firstly, we’ve been here before. That said this time feels a bit different because the movement, albeit it not as significant as we would like in many cases, has indeed been movement and all of that movement served to further isolate North Korea.

Nukes are the predominant but not only problem with NoKo: currency Counterfitting, cyber-attacks, theft of intellectual property, exportation of nuclear and missile technology, knock-off manufacturing, nuclear power plant construction support.

I’m also wondering, where’s Rex? But I digress.

From 30,000 feet it looks like Trump’s negotiating positions are all in tack and the crazy fat kid is getting ready to cry “uncle”. Despite appearances of the moment crying “uncle” is a very low probability. NoKo agreeing not to test isn’t really weighty. NoKo saves a few of whatever currency they’re printing this month and delayed the demise of that mountain that they used for tests that’s about ready to fall in on itself. Think about it. They have potentially destroyed a mountain, a mountain! But I digress.

The South Korean National Security Advisor handed Trump a lion’s share of the credit for being able to arrive at a point of communication with NoKo. “The max pressure policy is what brought us to this point,” said the Security Advisor. But also important is that the relatively newly minted SoKo President, while not a conservative, supported a fairly hard-nosed strategy. Leading us to the point where Kim wants to meet with Trump and Trump seems willing. Wait, wait we must deal with the reality of a White House that needs to be fully engaged in their strategic thinking, cost benefit analysis, logistics and ‘what if’ planning. It’s high stakes poker with lives and treasure in the middle of the table.

We know, we have evidence that appeasement doesn’t work, at the very least we’re equipped to debate it. NoKo doesn’t get to where they are absent super power appeasement or simple inattention. It’s a wonderful world where you can ignore inconvenient realities, that is the hallmark of the appeaser; the world as I would like it as opposed to the world as it is.

The tale of the tape should be fairly evident. If it is indeed probable, not possible, but probable to remove nukes from the Korean Peninsula the litmus test is clear. If it’s serious the required inspection regimes will be accepted without a significant degree of negotiated reduction in effectiveness or artificial delay. If we find ourselves still talking about how to have talks about the talks, the timing of the actual talks, or where they should be, or the shape of the table is; NoKo is not serious. At that point if there are any other hammers to be brought down on the NoKo regime that would be the time to do it. If they’re willing to allow relatively short term preliminary inspections then there actually has been a sea change. Short of that, it’s “Groundhog Day.”