On June 30, the National Council for Resistance of Iran (NCRI) had a rally in Paris. The Iranian regime blamed the NCRI for stimulating the protests that raced through Iran, per Fox News. The speed, breadth, and intensity of the demonstrations indicate the tide has turned against the Iranian regime.
On June 1, President Trump met with Gen. Kim Yong Chol at the White House, to receive a letter from Kim Jong Un. Trump described the missive as "very nice."
A first rule of strategy is to have well-defined objectives, so success can be judged, and your negotiating partners are not muddled about what you want. Our main goal: to denuclearize and hence reduce the influence of Pyongyang on the Korean Peninsula.
A second rule of strategy is to bond tighter with our friends and divide our potential opponents. By calling Kim Jong Un “little rocket man,” President Trump facilitated the onset of the June 12 summit and enhanced the ties among Seoul, Tokyo, and even an adversary, Pyongyang. Kim has historically been an opponent of the United States. But, there is a potential (Inshallah!) for him to be a friend.
A third principle of strategy is to use as leverage threats that are credible in the sense that carrying them out would hurt those with whom you are negotiating with more than they will hurt you. "Stop, or I will shoot myself in the foot" would be a singularly ineffective threat, unless the partner believed it, and backed down, as in the game of chicken.
Rather, it is coercive diplomacy that has the potential for turning an enemy into a friend. During the Civil War, hatred became deep-rooted between the North and South. A woman criticized President Abraham Lincoln speaking of benevolent treatment for Southern rebels. She reminded “Honest Abe” there was a war going on, and the Confederates were an enemy, to be demolished. But, he sagely replied, “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.”
So, coercive diplomacy may be able to annihilate the nuclear threat to our allies and to our homeland, by making Pyongyang a friend of Seoul, Tokyo, and the United States. “Naïve,” perhaps, but the devil is in the unfolding outcomes.
Defenders of the president, including close friend of the president Chris Ruddy, and yours truly, hold, “Trump Bagged Big Concessions From North Korea.” These include, in early May, Pyongyang, without any preconditions, released three American citizens held as prisoners.
Pyongyang, without our requesting, ceased all testing of nuclear devices and ballistic missile launches, and, “destroyed a nuclear test site as a sign of good faith.”
The summit leaves Trump in an excellent position: “Diplomacy, however, unconventional, has pierced the isolation bubble of the North Korean leadership, which no previous President could do,” wrote Victor Cha, President George W. Bush’s Director for Asian affairs at the NSC, 2004 to 2007, in The New York Times on June 12.
According to Foreign Policy, major talks and nuclear milestones that came before Trump include:
1985: Pyongyang acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It did not, however, complete an International Atomic Energy Agency Safeguards Agreement.
1991: President George H.W. Bush and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev withdrew tactical nuclear weapons deployed abroad, including some based in South Korea. Months later, Seoul’s President, Roh Tae-woo, announced he would not produce or store nuclear weapons.
1992: Washington and Seoul signed the Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, agreeing not to test, produce, posses, or deploy nuclear weapons, and agreeing to mutual verification inspections.
1993: Pyongyang gave notice of its intent to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but suspended the decision following discussions with the United States at the United Nations. At that point, U.S. intelligence agencies estimated Pyongyang had enough plutonium to produce one or two nuclear warheads.
In June 2016, Pyongyang had between thirteen and twenty-one warheads, four to six more than it did in late 2014.
On June 12, 2018, Seoul expressed surprise about Trump’s pledge to cancel military exercises on the Korean Peninsula; not only were allies in Seoul unaware, but also was the Pentagon.
At issue now, however, is whether Team Trump can reverse the course of history.
On April 18, in NYC, Pyongyang’s Gen. Kim Yong Chol met with Secretary Mike Pompeo, Kim said, withdrawing U.S. troops from South Korea is “not on the table,” countering reports that the U.S. military would be pulling forces from the area near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), separating the North from the South.
In the age of summitry, a Trump Doctrine is emerging.
Consider that Doctrine in three phases:
First, Trump regales, by breaking from the past and destroying precedent set by experts and his predecessors in the Oval Office.
Per TIME, interviews with more than a dozen friends, aides, and former officials: “He recognizes that people always are running around, it seems, with their hair on fire,” [said] senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway. “He sees that all those attempts [by past Administrations] have been failures, and they have been aborted promises. So he says, ‘Let’s just try it a different way.'”
Second, the president likes to abandon appearing as if he were a rational actor on the world stage. He prefers to look slightly out-control, a bit crazy like a fox; rather, he is not a madman, but wants to appear as such, to increase leverage on allies and adversaries.
President Nixon mentioned to NSC Advisor Henry Kissinger he would like to be perceived by North Vietnam as out-of-control to enhance U.S. bargaining in the Peace Talks, illustrating the “madman theory,” advanced by Thomas Schelling in his seminal books, "The Strategy of Conflict" as well as "Arms and Influence."
Nixon wanted the “other side,” to think he and Kissinger, “might be 'crazy,'" and signaled Moscow and Hanoi by pushing so many, “chips in the pot,” to suggest he “might really go much further,” even to the point of using nuclear weapons.
Third, the term, “Four Estates,” usually makes up the American system of checks balances as well as separation of powers: President, Congress, Courts, and Free Press — the Fourth Estate.
So, the president cannot act with impunity; rather, he is constrained by the other three Estates.
The Way Forward
First, President Trump: Tehran is a partner in proliferation with Pyongyang. Break links between them by pressuring both. If Pyongyang partners with Tehran they are stronger, and Beijing’s as well as Washington’s sanctions will have little effect.
Second Mr. President: As you know, NSC Advisor, Amb. (Ret.) John Bolton, is familiar with pros and cons of the nuclear deal with Iran; so ask him to brief your legislative team, so it can defend your position on the Hill, against the accord.
Third, today is “Trump Time,” your day has come to crack down on both partners in proliferation, with coercive diplomacy, that risks yet minimizes the need for war — Carpe Diem, seize the day!
Prof. Raymond Tanter (@ProfRTanter) served as a senior member on the Middle East Desk of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration, Personal Representative of the Secretary of Defense to international security and arms control talks in Europe, and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. Tanter is on the comprehensive list of conservative writers and columnists who appear in The Wall Street Journal, Townhall.com, National Review, The Weekly Standard, Human Events, The American Spectator, and now in Newsmax. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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