Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday he’ll continue to push for negotiations with Kim Jong-un “until the first bomb drops.”
Negotiations? About what? Jeffrey Feltman’s visit to North Korea may provide a hint.
Feltman is the highest-ranking American to visit the Hermit Kingdom in a while. But there’s a twist: Feltman, an Ohio native who spent most of his career at the State Department, didn’t go to Pyongyang last week as an American. He’s the UN undersecretary general for political affairs, and as such represents the “international community.”
Though, as Feltman acknowledged Tuesday, the people he met were mostly interested in what “one country that I know well” (America) has to say.
In meeting with North Korean officials, from Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho on down, Feltman said, “I underlined the international community is both committed to a peaceful political solution” but is also “united in the opposition to the DPRK’s possession of nuclear weapons.”
So far, so good.
Yet, Feltman also said increased global pressure diminishes “proper funding” for humanitarian efforts in North Korea. “UN assistance is saving lives,” Feltman told me, and not delivering it reinforces a “narrative that I heard over and over again from [Pyongyang officials] that the international community is inherently hostile.”
The UN’s human-rights commissioner, Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, chimed in as well, warning that 13 million Koreans — about half the country — faced the winter without “essential” UN aid.
What to do? One possible deal: We’d deliver humanitarian aid and other goodies to the North Korean people in need, and in return Kim will promise to behave.
Been there, tried that.
Bill Clinton in 1994 offered to provide for North Korea’s energy needs in return for a promise to “freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program.” The George W. Bush administration removed North Korea from a list of terror-sponsoring states, lifting sanctions in return for, yes, more promises. Obama simply ignored Kim.
We now know where it ends: These days North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles can already hit any city in America. Soon they’ll be tipped with nukes as well.
Why would Kim negotiate away such power?
At best, a deal would slightly delay the inevitable, while creating the illusion that all is hunky-dory. Meanwhile, the UN will deliver humanitarian assistance.
History here, too, is unkind. Remember the deal Kofi Annan struck with Saddam? Oil-for-food became so corrupt and was such a mess, even Annan ended up admitting the United Nations should never again attempt such an endeavor.
Meanwhile, Washington is torn. Tillerson endlessly talks about talks, while President Trump advises him to stop wasting his time. On Friday, Tillerson is expected to attend a UN Security Council meeting on Feltman’s trip.
Per National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, the “most effective way of preserving peace is to be prepared for war.” UN Ambassador Nikki Haley warns the Norks not to try any funny stuff, or “they will be utterly destroyed,” adding, “You know, diplomacy is great in some respects, but you have to also be honest: North Korea has pushed the envelope to an extreme level.”
A coherent policy is yet to emerge, and Feltman and fellow world kibitzers are pushing Trump toward deal making. Meanwhile even Tillerson says the president “has ordered our military planners to have a full range of contingencies available, and they are ready.”
Feltman didn’t get to meet Kim — an indication that negotiations, if any, will be slow, while time is quickly running out.
So even at Turtle Bay some see no successful deal to be struck. As one senior UN diplomat put it after being briefed by Feltman this week, “either there will be a war, or we collectively will accept that there is a nuclear North Korea within the year.”
Negotiations? That missile has already left the silo.
Source : https://nypost.com/2017/12/13/team-trump-is-still-torn-on-how-to-handle-north-korea/