Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The avant-garde art of the deal

Nothing Trump builds in North Korea is going to top this ship-hotel above the beach of Jeongdongjin on the Pacific coast in northeastern South Korea. Via Rough Guides.

Hi, it's Stupid to say Trump failed to wring any concessions out of North Korea. I mean it's true they only agreed that they would "work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula" meaning, as you know, North and South and all the US troops and their nuclear-capable vessels and missiles and B-1 bombers, as opposed to the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of the North Korean nuclear weapons program, on which the US has long insisted as a sine qua non, and with no timetables, verification methods, or fucking any reason to think they will actually do it, in return for diplomatic recognition and on top of the photo op that we understand is what Kim Jong-un was really longing for and, in a gratuitous deal sweetener Trump apparently threw in orally after the document was signed, a cessation of the defensive joint exercises with the South Korean military that the US has conducted regularly since the cease-fire (like a guy closing the sale on his apartment who shakes hands with everyone after everything's signed and stamped and then says to the new owner, "Hey, why don't you take my girlfriend too?").

Plus China's already throwing the idea of sanctions relief out there, as a participation trophy:
Speaking in Beijing following Trump and Kim's signing of a joint statement at the end of their historic summit in Singapore, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated that China has always strictly abided by all U.N. resolutions on North Korea.
"The U.N. Security Council resolutions that have been passed say that if North Korea respects and acts in accordance with the resolutions, then sanction measures can be adjusted, including to pause or remove the relevant sanctions," Geng told a daily news briefing.

But hey, they're going to help us look for POWs from 1954, and the remains of our war dead, of which there probably really are some. And more than that, the hope of a deal for the Trump Organization:

Think of It From a Real Estate Perspective
As an example they have great beaches.
You see that whenever they’re
exploding their cannons into the ocean.
I said, "Boy, look at that view. Wouldn’t that
make a great condo?" And I explained,
I said, "You know, instead of doing that
you could have the best hotels in the world
right there." Think of it from a real estate
perspective. You have South Korea, you have China,
and they own the land in the middle.
How bad is that, right? It’s great.
You can just see him plotting out the oceanside golf course in the Wonsan neighborhood, though it looks like whenever it's warm enough to go outdoors it's raining.

I'm pretty pleased I've been calling this right all along, and I still think nothing bad has happened, though I guess President Moon and the Japanese contingent were well and truly blindsided by the idea of stopping the exercises, which is a little more unorthodox than they were prepared for. Not to mention Secretary Mattis, who wasn't informed either (and we're getting reports suggesting that the idea comes from Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, a regional power in the region with a tiny North Korea border). Then again, why would you think any of this stuff would cause anything to happen? Least of all the bits that aren't even in the written deal. Because "there wasn't time".

I do think we're misinterpreting what Trump means by the cancelation of the military exercises, though: Trump thinks that's a win for the US:

Who Pays In Order to Practice?

We stopped playing those war games
that cost us a fortune.
You know, we’re spending a fortune,
every couple of months
we’re doing war games with South Korea,
and I said, ‘What’s this costing?’
We’re flying planes in from Guam,
we’re bombing empty mountains for practice.
I said ‘I want to stop that'
and I will stop that,
and I think it’s very provocative --
But we’re not gonna play the war games.
You know, I wanted to stop the war games,
I thought they were very provocative.
But I also think they’re very expensive.
We’re running the country properly,
I think they’re very, very expensive.
To do it, we have to fly planes in from Guam --
that’s six and a half hours away.
Big bombers and everything else,
I said, ‘Who’s paying for this?’
I mean, who pays in order to practice?
Trump's grateful to Kim for saving us all this money! That's why he didn't tell the South Koreans and Japanese and his own military—he was saving it for a surprise!

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