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A Master Class In Negotiation

April 15th, 2013 - 11:34 am

The Obama administration has a new plan to fix the North Korean problem. It has offered to lower American missile defenses in exchange for a Chinese guarantee to restrain Pyongyang.

The New York Times explains, “BEIJING — Secretary of State John Kerry flew to China on Saturday and sought to elicit China’s help in dealing with an increasingly recalcitrant nuclear armed North Korea by saying that American missile defenses could be cut back if the North abandoned its nuclear program.”

In a news conference, Mr. Kerry suggested that the United States could remove some newly enhanced missile defenses in the region, though he did not specify which ones. Any eventual cutback would address Chinese concerns about the buildup of American weapons systems in the region. … In a news conference, Mr. Kerry suggested that the United States could remove some newly enhanced missile defenses in the region, though he did not specify which ones. Any eventual cutback would address Chinese concerns about the buildup of American weapons systems in the region.

Kerry’s proposal elicited immediate criticism to which the Secretary responded with a clarification. They were only proposing a return to normalcy. “The president of the United States deployed some additional missile defense capacity precisely because of the threat of North Korea. And it is logical that if the threat of North Korea disappears because the peninsula denuclearizes, then obviously that threat no longer mandates that kind of posture. But there have been no agreements, no discussions, there is nothing actually on the table with respect to that.”

Kerry also declared himself ready to “reach out” to North Korea.

The lengths to which the administration will go to defuse Pyongyang was underscored by Kerry’s statement that “he might consider using someone other than an official U.S. government envoy to reach out to the North and he left the door open to a negotiation with the North that might not require them to take denuclearization steps in advance”.

It was an approach which John McCain criticized as leaving America vulnerable to a “take the money and run” scam, especially since Pyongyang has publicly said it had no intention of abandoning its atomic arms programs.

But it is sometimes argued in policy circles that the North Koreans are bluffing; that they are puffing out their sunken chests for publicity purposes. What they really want, deep down, because they must surely want it is a non-nuclear Korea. Therefore we must not believe their threats. Like right thinking men they men in Pyongyang really want to buy the world a Coke.

Some may think there is a logical contradiction in arguing that we can trust Pyongyang precisely on the grounds that they are liars. But if there is any contradiction, it has not occurred to the Obama administration.

We are fortunate to be a long way from the caveman like days of the Treasure of the Sierra Madre when intercultural communication was so difficult. Imagine a dialog with Kim Jong Un as Gold Hat and John Kerry as Dobbs.

Gold Hat: We aren’t trying to do you any harm. Why don’t you try to be a little more polite? Give us your gun and we’ll leave you in peace.

Dobbs: I need my gun myself.

Gold Hat: Oh, throw that ol’ iron over here. We’ll pick it up and go on our way.

Dobbs: You go on your way without my gun and go quick!

Gold Hat: Look here, amigo. You got the wrong idea. We don’t wanna get your gun fer nothin’. We wanna buy it. Look. I have a gold watch with a gold chain, made in your own country. The watch and the chain – they worth at least two hundred pesos – I ‘change it fer yer gun. Y’better take it, thatsa good bizness for you!!

Dobbs: You keep your watch. I’ll keep my gun!

But in these more sophisticated times the West knows how to be polite. And as for the two hundred pesos — well what about two hundred billion pesos instead — the North Korean peso being so low against the dollar?

In any case the administration has become depressingly predictable.  In domestic politics it is reliably aggressive, using law or even twisting law to gain every advantage against American political rivals. But abroad, where the language of debate is more often force or threat than law, it has proved to be incredibly timid. It approached the Arab Spring in the manner of a scavenger, content to “lead from behind”. Yet it was content to retreat — to abandon Libya, to abandon Egypt, to withdraw to the margins in Syria — at the slightest sign of determined resistance.

Is it any wonder that North Korea and is patron, China, are so confident in their demands. They have been conditioned, like one of Pavlov’s dogs, to seize every scrap of meat from the grasp of their keeper, even to the extent of biting the hand that feeds them. The problem is whether North Korea might not learn Kerry’s new lesson too well: that thuggery pays. That there is no one the administration is more willing to reach out to then the somebody who threatens it.

The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99

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All Comments   (11)
All Comments   (11)
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If I was a top echelon Chinese strategist intent on expanding my country’s rightful sphere of influence at the expense of a bumbling confused, and distracted United States, I might very well suggest that my country’s “unpredictable” client state, DPRK create exactly this sort of a confrontation in the expectation that the US’ inept and non-confrontational leaders would be more than willing to bargain away at least a portion of their military superiority in east and southeast Asia in exchange for my country’s moderating throttle on the volatile Kim Jung-Un. After all, my own naval forces are now expanding to support my country’s determined search for and control of hydrocarbon-based energy supplies in the East and South China seas, while my own air force is now capable of flying out over water beyond sight of the mainland. Real power is both military and economic – something I understand even if the Americans have forgotten or no longer much care. And who else to control the hot-headed young Kim, since we are the ones who have provided his country with the technology he now uses to threaten the United States and its Asian allies? And such an agreement would clearly be in the interest of the Obama regime too, since it would enhance his prestige at home and abroad to have “solved” the problem of North Korea, while providing an excuse for further American reductions in military spending, once the DPRK’s Kim is seen to be on a short and sturdy leash. Granted, some may see through the ploy (though surely not the current Secretaries of State and Defense). But even so, the result is a “win-win” for both my country and the American regime.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We have a plan that cannot possibiy fail.

Policy is being cribbed from old Blackadder scripts.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Okay, let's review the bidding....

USA: Bush signs START and reduces our ICBMs by over 50%. Clinton cuts back on SDI.

Response: DPRK starts working on a nuke, expands missile programs and sells Scuds to Iran.

USA: Obama cuts back on Missile Defense, calls for elimination of nuclear weapons.

Response: DPRK develops long range missile, continues nuke program and restarts the stopped part of nuke program.

USA: Obama changes his mind on missile defense, un-cancels part of the program.

Reponse: No change in DPRK actions, but rhetoric increases in vitriol.

USA: Obama offers to stop missile defense again.

Response: DPRK....?

Yeah, makes perfect sense. That oughta do it. Thanks, Egon
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Gee, what could go wrong. This is like asking the right hand to limit what the left hand is doing.

At least according to Gordon Chang's latest PJM post, the Chinese Military are behind the Nork's moves. They are the ones who sold Kim Un his missile launchers. The bottom line is that Red Chinese are the terrorist masterminds behind it all .

What we should be doing is banning all imports from China and levying a 2500 % tax on gross sales on any American Business that does business with China. Muy pronto. That might grab their attention. Chinese involvement in this sheet needs to be publicized far and wide.

And Kerry should be brought for impeachment on charges of Treason today.

Chinese is at war with America. They are doing everything possible to derail the Dollar as the world's reserve currency, which if successful, would cause an economic collapse here and abroad immediately.

Also bad economic news over the weekend from China and Japan caused gold to dump the most in 30 years. ( Margin Calls). Similar gold dumps happened in July and September of 2008, anticipating the fall of Lehman and the Panic.

China's economy is in deep trouble and a real shootin war may not be far away.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sorry to interrupt, but thre have been two explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line. From a small video link:, it is apparent that the top runners had finished almost two hours earlier. Police seem to have found a third device that the bomb squad set off. There are serious casualties.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Okay, which Tea Party or White Supremacist group is responsible for this horrific outrage?

Oh, wait! 15 April! It was them damn taxpayers!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yes. It will be interesting to see how this tragedy will be played by the MSM and the Administration. I hate to be so cynical but I cannot help but believe that there are people in high places at this very moment scheming as to how not to let this crisis go to waste, totally oblivious to the impact on the individual victims of this nasty event.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Could be part of the long term strategy of China. Remove more guarantees of American defense in Asia, make them back down with China. More doubt sown among the other Asian nations.

The narrative is clear: Don't trust the Americans, they will be gone soon. Place your trust in Beijing. We will ALWAYS be here. And we can control those scary North Koreans.

I now wait for Kerry to emerge from the next conference, waving a piece of paper in his hand, proclaiming "Peace in our time!".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Let me see. There's a convicted sex offender in the neighborhood who keeps following your daughter around. She keeps a pistol in her purse and he knows that. So lets make a deal with the creep. If he will promise not to stalk her anymore you'll stop her from carrying around the pistol. What could possibly go wrong with such a bargain? It sounds so good on paper.

And how is it exactly that the nature of the deal with China/Korea differs from the hypothetical I've described. Inquiring minds want to know.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One of the best scenes in that movie, in my opinion. What heppened next was priceless: Dobbs shoots the gold watch off its chain as Gold Hat was dangling it. Gold Hat looks over at the now empty chain dangling from his hand and then looks out at Dobbs and asks, "You don' wan' thee gol' watch?"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
vell, vell, vell, the Obambus regime discovers new value in missile defenses every day.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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