June 13, 2018

Crisis: The Summit, What Happened, War Games, Hopes for Peace, The War Industries


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from June 13, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, June 13, 2018. It is a bit special in that all five reviews of today are about yesterday´s meeting between Trump and Kim.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will continue with it.

On the moment and since more than two years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from June 13, 2018:
1. The Summit Was Unprecedented, the Statement Vague and the Day

2. What Happened in the Trump-Kim Meeting and Why It Matters
3. Trump Vows to End “Provocative” War Games on Korean Peninsula
     After Historic Summit with Kim Jong-un

4. Trump-Kim Summit Raises Cautious Hopes for Peace
5. 'Peace Is Bad for Business': War Profiteer Stocks Plummet After
     Diplomatic Progress With North Korea
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. The Summit Was Unprecedented, the Statement Vague and the Day Historic

This article is by Mark Landler on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
In a day of personal diplomacy that began with a choreographed handshake and ended with a freewheeling news conference, President Trump deepened his wager on North Korea’s leader on Tuesday, arguing that their rapport would bring the swift demise of that country’s nuclear program.

Mr. Trump, acting more salesman than statesman, used flattery, cajolery and even a slickly produced promotional video to try to make the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, a partner in peace. He also gave Mr. Kim a significant concession: no more military drills between the United States and South Korea, a change that surprised South Korea and the Pentagon.

After hours of face-to-face contact, in which Mr. Trump even gave Mr. Kim a peek inside his bulletproof presidential limousine, he said he believed that Mr. Kim’s desire to end North Korea’s seven-decade-old confrontation with the United States was sincere.

“He was very firm in the fact that he wants to do this,” Mr. Trump said at the news conference before leaving for home. While cautioning that he could not be sure, Mr. Trump said, “I think he might want to do this as much or even more than me.”

I say, for I did not expect this. Then again, I should add that I did not expect anything, but this was a quite important meeting.

Here is some more, on the outcomes, that are not as rosy as the above quoted bit might suggest:

Still, a joint statement signed by the two after their meeting — the first ever between a sitting American president and a North Korean leader — was as skimpy as the summit meeting was extravagant. It called for the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula but provided neither a timeline nor any details about how the North would go about giving up its weapons.

The statement, which American officials negotiated intensely with the North Koreans and had hoped would be a road map to a nuclear deal, was a page and a half of diplomatic language recycled from statements negotiated by the North over the last two decades.

It made no mention of Mr. Trump’s longstanding — supposedly nonnegotiable — demand that North Korea submit to complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization. It made no mention of North Korea’s missiles. It did not even set a firm date for a follow-up meeting, though the president said he would invite Mr. Kim to the White House when the time was right.

This is all true, but so is the following, at least for now:

If the outcome was short on substance, it still helped replace the fears of a nuclear showdown with diplomacy. For Mr. Trump, the spare joint statement seemed almost beside the point. He said the meeting was successful because it had reduced tensions.

Mr. Trump said he had taken Mr. Kim’s measure during three hours of meetings — plus a lunch of prawns and crispy pork — and found him genuine in his desire to lead North Korea out of a spiraling confrontation with the United States.

There is more in the article, which is recommended. 

2. What Happened in the Trump-Kim Meeting and Why It Matters

This article is by Max Fisher on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

Even the most informed observer might struggle to know what to make of the summit meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un of North Korea.

Colorful theatrics, such as a four-minute video that Mr. Trump showed Mr. Kim, gave the event an air of surrealism. Expectations ranged wildly, with Mr. Trump promising the deal of the century and many analysts fearing a blowup similar to what happened at last’s week’s Group of 7 meeting in Canada.

And Mr. Trump’s habit of making misleading statements, along with his record of defying norms, can make it difficult to parse which of the summit’s outcomes matter and which don’t, which bring Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim closer to their respective goals and which move them further away.

Yes indeed. But the rest of this article consists of ten points that attempt to make clear what was and was not achieved in the meeting. Here are the first two points:

(1) Almost any talks between the United States and North Korea, while those talks are ongoing, significantly reduce the risk of an accidental or unintended slide into war, which could kill millions. The simple act of talking changes North Korean and American behaviors and perceptions in ways that make conflict far less likely. That’s a big deal.

(2) The joint statement signed by Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim contains polite diplomatic platitudes but is otherwise largely empty. Among adversaries, this sort of statement is a common, low-pressure way to keep talks going. It doesn’t resolve any issues, but it keeps the countries engaged.

Yes, I agree with both points. Here is one more point:

(5) The United States staged the summit meeting in a way that handed Mr. Kim some symbolic but meaningful concessions. At the North Koreans’ request, the two countries and their leaders were presented as equals — elevating Mr. Kim  from global pariah to a superpower’s peer. Their meeting was given pomp and ceremony at points verging on that of a royal wedding. Because Mr. Kim’s legitimacy is among his greatest vulnerabilities at home and abroad, this staging was a big gift to him.

This is also true, although I think I should add that this result may be undone. There is more in te article, that is recommended.

3. Trump Vows to End “Provocative” War Games on Korean Peninsula After Historic Summit with Kim Jong-un

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have wrapped up a historic summit pledging to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, with President Trump announcing the end of U.S.-South Korean war games. The summit marked the first-ever meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. For more, we speak with investigative journalist Tim Shorrock in Singapore.
Yes indeed. And this is a long and interesting interview with Tim Shorrock. I will quote three bits of it, and this is the first:

AMY GOODMAN: The U.S.-North Korean summit began with President Trump and Kim publicly shaking hands. They then met privately for less than an hour, with only them and their two translators. This was followed by a large meeting with top aides. At the conclusion of the summit, President Trump and President Kim spoke briefly to the press while signing a joint statement.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So we’re signing a very important document, a pretty comprehensive document. And we’ve had a really great term together, a great relationship. … Would you like to say something to the press?

KIM JONG-UN: [translated] Today, we had a historic meeting and decided to leave the past behind. And we are about to sign a historic document. The world will see a major change. I would like to express my gratitude to President Trump to make this meeting happen. Thank you.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you very much. It’s fantastic. Thank you very much, everybody. We’ll see you a little bit later. And we’re very proud of what took place today. I think our whole relationship with North Korea and the Korean Peninsula is—it’s going to be a very much different situation than it has in the past. We both want to do something. We both are going to do something. And we have developed a very special bond. So, people are going to be very impressed. People are going to be very happy. And we’re going to take care of a very big and very dangerous problem for the world. And I want to thank Chairman Kim.
I say, for both sound considerably more optimistic about each other than I expected. Here is some more with Tim Shorrock:

AMY GOODMAN: (..) Well, Tim, this is the end of an historic day. Talk about the highlights, what you were most surprised by, the significance of what has just taken place.

TIM SHORROCK: Well, it was a pretty amazing day. I think the most significant thing I heard—I just actually returned about an hour ago from—I was at that press conference with President Trump. It’s the first time I’ve seen him in action live, and it’s the longest press conference, I think, he’s given in his entire presidency. He was exuberant. He was buoyant. He was enthusiastic. He was cracking jokes. He seemed really, you know, very, very pleased with himself.

The most surprising thing I heard was when he said, you know, “We’re going to end the war games.” And that had not been previously announced.
I agree with Shorrock. Here is the last bit I am quoting from this article:
TIM SHORROCK: Something like this has been signed before, yes. And some of the language is very similar to past agreements, not only the '94 agreement, but agreements that happened after that. But the difference is you had the two leaders meeting. I mean, obviously, this was an unprecedented meeting between the president of the United States and the chairman of North Korea, the leader of North Korea. So, you know, you've never had a document where the top leaders of the countries signed. So that makes it, you know, a much stronger agreement.
Yes, I think that is correct. There is a lot more in the article, that is strongly recommended.

4. Trump-Kim Summit Raises Cautious Hopes for Peace

This article is by Joe Lauria on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
In time it will become evident whether the joint statement signed by U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung-un on Tuesday will lead to a formal end to the Korean War, denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and an end what the North sees as U.S. provocations against Pyongyang.

On the morning after, we are only left with the atmospherics and images from the historic meeting between Kim and Trump in Singapore. The two leaders—who just months ago were hurling insults at each other, with Kim calling Trump “dotard,” and Trump calling Kim “Little Rocket Man,”— left Singapore and the details of the negotiation to their administrations.

As the document they signed has not yet been released, it is difficult to know what exactly they have agreed to. Trump held it up briefly so that reporters could read that he had “committed to provide security guarantees” to North Korea and Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”  How that denuclearization is carried out may be the most difficult detail of all to work out.
Yes, I think this is all correct. Here is some more, with some perspective:
Three times, in 1994 and again in 2005 and 2007, those negotiations failed when the U.S. refused to trust Pyongyang. New sanctions were piled on North Korea by the U.S., and with the assent of Moscow and Beijing, at the United Nations. But it was not until the North successfully tested nuclear weapons and developed an intercontinental ballistic missile that could soon reach the U.S. West Coast that Washington apparently got serious about reaching a deal, which was only begun in Singapore on Tuesday.

At his press conference following the summit, Trump said the U.S. would “suspend” military exercises and he expected the North to “very quickly” denuclearize. For Trump personally, an ultimately successful outcome would be a triumph in that he had to outmaneuver neoconservative aides, such as his national security adviser, John Bolton, just to get the summit to take place. Trump may be motivated by vanity in wanting to win a Nobel Peace Prize, but if peace actually results, it would only be his fiercest critics who would quibble with his motive.
This seems also correct, although I hope Trump will not get the Nobel Peace Prize. But that is probably a personal feeling, and this article is recommended.

5. 'Peace Is Bad for Business': War Profiteer Stocks Plummet After Diplomatic Progress With North Korea

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
American defense contractors were practically drooling over the prospect of all-out war with North Korea as President Donald Trump was recklessly flinging "fire and fury" last year, but Tuesday's summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to have dampened war profiteers' dreams of yet another catastrophic U.S.-led military conflict—at least for now.

Demonstrating that even the slightest whiff of peace is enough to scare investors in America's most profitable military contractors, USA Today reported on Tuesday that shares of Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, and General Dynamics all "took a dive" as Trump and Kim signed a vague, non-binding agreement that is merely the first step toward a lasting diplomatic solution.

"Peace is bad for business," noted writer Ajit Singh in response to the new report.

Yes, I think this is also all correct, and it does give some background to what is going on.
Then again, while I agree with Johnson that the shares of the American war industries fell, they did not fall by much:

According to USA Today:

Shares of Raytheon, which makes Patriot and Tomahawk missiles, fell 2.6 percent. Lockheed Martin, which supplies the Pentagon with air and missile defense systems as well as the F-35 Stealth fighter jet, tumbled one percent. And Northrop Grumman, which has increased its focus on cyber warfare and missile defense systems more recently, declined 1.3 percent. Boeing, which makes Apache helicopters and aerial refueling aircraft, dipped 0.2 percent. General Dynamics, a Navy shipbuilder, fell one percent.

By contrast, the Dow Jones industrial average edged up 20 points.

And as Johnson makes clear in his ending, this small setback for the war industries is compensated by the following:

But before you start feeling bad for America's war profiteers—and before you give Trump credit for dragging their stocks down—just remember that Democrats and Republicans in Congress just granted the U.S. president's wish for a $717 billion Pentagon budget, much of which goes straight into the pockets of companies like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin.

Quite so, and this is a recommended article.


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).
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