Cadence of Conflict: Asia, May 21, 2018

Talk only went so far this week. I looks as if North Korea might not be dismantling its nukes, but hiding them, then threatening to close talks when exposed for this, then threatening to cancel the summit for some other list of excuses.

The big question on Kim Jong-Un backing out on the talks relates to his recent visits to China. Not that China has made any wild promises, but he feels somewhat confident in getting lippy with the US.

The big lesson was about Moon’s emphasis on diplomacy vs Trump’s emphasis on teeth. Diplomacy made progress in terms of leading to more diplomacy. But, actual action is a measurement of its own. So far, Trump’s action has led to China losing interest in any kind of trade war and Moon’s favored diplomacy seems to be leading to an undiplomatic end to diplomacy.

Things aren’t over nor have we seen the last surprise. The big news of the week is that China’s on the bench. Moon and Trump will meet to discuss Kim having a discussion with them in Singapore. Where’s China?—announcing its surrender on trade, reflecting on past meetings with Kim, another player that doesn’t really matter.

If Kim doesn’t show up, Moon’s populist diplomacy will prove to have failed and Trump will have the “political currency” for action against North Korea. Maybe that’s what China hopes for in allowing Kim to gain false hopes in something or other—to rationalize a little retaliatory action of its own. But, if military action was China’s first preference, Beijing would have already taken it.


US, China agree to abandon trade war: Beijing | Yahoo – AFP

Donald Trump ‘offered to ease ZTE sanctions to persuade China to help with North Korea summit’ | SCMP


Trump And Moon Discuss Summit After North Korea’s Shift In Attitude | Yahoo

North Korea’s about-face complicates South Korea’s pitch to Trump | Yahoo – Reuters

Trump and Moon discuss N Korea threat to scrap summit | RTE

US-North Korea: Trump speaks with President Moon following Pyongyang backflip on summit | ABC-NET

Trump, South Korean leader commiserate over upcoming summit | WA Post

N.Korea is dismantling its nuclear site, but is it abandoning its arsenal or hiding evidence? | Yahoo – Reuters

North Korea threatens to CANCEL nuclear summit with Trump because it believes ‘provocative military ruckus’ of joint U.S.-South Korea drills are rehearsal for invasion | Daily Mail

Trump says ‘we’ll have to see’ if summit with Kim Jong Un is still happening | CNBC

North Korea takes aim at John Bolton as it threatens to scrap Trump summit over nuclear demands | Yahoo – Telegraph

B-52 bomber excluded from drills after North Korea complains | UPI