Liar’s Poker 2

The ink isn’t dry yet on whatever it was that Trump and Kim signed and we are already dealing with WILDLY divergent claims about what happened and why.

Before we start, however, I do want to acknowledge that at least in the short term, this is much better than threatening any kind of conflict. On the other hand the long term costs may be significant.

Let’s start with Trump.

He held a press conference yesterday to celebrate his supposed success. Here are some of lies that he told in the process.

“Chairman Kim and I just signed a joint statement which he reaffirmed his unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula….We signed a very, very comprehensive document.”

Simply not true. Compared to past documents that were signed between NK and the US, this document has been described as “remarkably vague, leaving it open to interpretation and debate”.

Here’s just one example from the Wash Post.

The statement said North Korea (officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK) committed to “work towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” The phrase is not defined and “toward” is rather weak. In the past, North Korea viewed “denuclearization” to mean the United States removing the nuclear umbrella it provides to Japan and South Korea; there is no indication its definition has changed.

Contrast the Trump-Kim statement, for instance, with the Sept. 19, 2005, agreement signed by North Korea, the United States and four regional neighbors, which was much more specific:

“The DPRK committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning, at an early date, to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to IAEA safeguards. The United States affirmed that it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade the DPRK with nuclear or conventional weapons.”

“We will stop the war games which will save us a tremendous amount of money. Unless and until we see the future negotiations is not going along like it should. We will be saving a tremendous amount of money. Plus. It is very provocative. … They are tremendously expensive. The amount of money we spend on that is incredible.”

Trump provided no facts to back up his claim. What we know is that SK pays 50% of the non-personnel costs to keep US troops in the region. Since the troops are not leaving, there is no cost savings there. Also this was primarily a training exercise. Since troops will still need to be trained it is unclear how training them some other way will save a lot of money over training them in the same way that we have trained them for decades. If he plans to simply skip the training, then you have to ask the question of how that will affect their readiness to respond in case they are needed.

“In one case, they took billions of dollars during the Clinton regime. Took billions of dollars and nothing happened.”

A big lie.

The Clinton NK deal centered on NK decommissioning a nuclear power plant that could also be used to create weapons grade plutonium. In return the US promised two things. We would supply heavy oil every year to replace the electricity that NK would get from the plant. We would also (as part of a consortium of nations) build NK different reactors that could supply electricity but couldn’t be used to make weapons grade material. This was the deal the George Bush blew up.

The US spent about $50M over the 8 years of the Clinton administration supplying fuel oil. The consortium spent $2.5B on the reactor project before the US withdrew. $2B of that was paid for by SK and Japan.

NONE of that money went to NK. It was spent on power plant contractors and oil producers. Also during that period of time, the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed through regular inspections that NK did put all of the fuel rods from their reactor in cooling ponds and there was no evidence of any other enrichment activities. NK didn’t restart their program until Bush II pulled out of the deal and invaded Iraq.

“On the Iran deal, I think Iran is a different country now. I don’t think they are looking as much to the Mediterranean and so much as Syria like they were with total confidence.”

There is no evidence that Iraq has stopped supporting the insurgent groups that they have been supporting.

“I notice some of the people are saying the president has agreed to meet. He has given up so much. I gave up nothing.”

Presidential summits are usually reserved for the end of a negotiating process and are the reward for getting a deal done. Putting the summit at the front end of the process is a significant concession. Evidence is what NK is claiming was also promised.

“When you look at all of the things we got and when we got our hostages back, I did not pay $1.8 billion in cash like the hostages that came back from Iran which was a disgraceful situation.”

Another big lie which Trump has continued to tell even though it has been widely debunked.

The money ($1.7B) was paid by the Shah to the US for military equipment. Delivery on that equipment was suspended when the Shah was overthrown. But we kept the money. In parallel with the nuclear discussions were negotiations to return some hostages and give them their money back for purchases that we never delivered.

“[Iran was a] terrible deal. … I don’t think a deal could be softer. First of all, we’re not paying $150 billion.”

Another repeated lie.

The US IS NOT paying Iran. As Iran meets the various milestones of their agreement, billions of dollars of IRAN’s MONEY which had been frozen in foreign banks around the globe will become accessible to them. Most of that money was in payment for oil. Our Treasury Department estimates that the amount of money that will eventually flow back to Iran is $55B. Iran’s estimates are even lower than that ($32B).

“His country does love him. His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor.”

This is the most frightening thing that Trump has said regarding NK. NK is a gulag state with prison camps, forced labor, torture, and death for anyone who opposes KJU. Celebrating Kim’s regime sets the cause of freedom and democracy back decades.

Trump has already laid a solid foundation for being regarded as the worst president in history. He is now running the risk of going down in history as the Neville Chamberlain of his generation.

Here’s what the NK said they got from the deal.

“it is important to abide by the principle of step-by-step and simultaneous action in achieving peace, stability and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

We’re saying that this is going to be a rapid total and complete de-nuke process.

Rodong Sinmun, official newspaper of the ruling Workers’ Party — also claimed that the president pledged to suspend military drills with South Korea, and lift sanctions on the North.

Trump did suspend the military drills. He did not say he would be lifting sanctions. Though this WAS something that China recommended.

The KCNA report, as well as the joint statement after the summit, also mentioned that the president had offered North Korea unspecified security guarantees, which Pyongyang considers an indispensable precondition for nuclear disarmament.

Trump did not mention what security guarantees he had been offered.

Summary

The devil is always in the details and there just aren’t a lot of details. It is much better to be talking versus threatening to lob missiles at each other. This agreement is little more than an agreement to start working on an agreement, yet it is being promoted as a peace plan that will save the world from nuclear war.

The optics of this particular deal are that the meeting itself gave both Trump and Kim something that they wanted. It did little to advance the cause of a real and lasting peace. What is likely is that talks will continue for a LONG period of time. That will also benefit both parties. Kim will be able to pretty much continue what he has been doing without the threat of being overthrown. Trump will continue to live in his fantasy world about how much progress has been made and paint himself as an expert in solving intractable foreign relations problems.

KJU has not demonstrated that he has any interest in changing. Until he does, he is a dangerous person that we should not be treating as a friend. The risk is that KJU is a realist and fantasy rarely survives when confronted with reality.

The long term costs of accepting a NK as legitimate member of the international community without a commitment on their part to human rights reform is chilling. Apparently, a different set of rules applies to countries with nuclear capabilities. That lesson is not lost on the other dictators of the world.

56 Responses to “Liar’s Poker 2”

  1. Keith says:

    Will respond to your responses later. Much travel and very busy.

    I watched all the Sunday shows this morning for the first time in forever. If anyone thinks that abortion isn’t the singular issue in our current political environment is sadly mistaken.

  2. Jeff Beamsley says:

    https://www.wral.com/alan-dershowitz-is-enjoying-this/17681968/

    Wonderful article!!!!

    From the NYT!

    Dershowitz is getting a lot of attention. That appears to be what he enjoys.

    While I appreciate his point, he is a provocateur himself.

    While he condemns extremism, he is one of those taking an extreme position regarding the scope of presidential power. He accuses Trump of trolling liberals, but he is also trolling liberals. That’s why he is so popular on Fox.

    There is a social cost, however, to being a troll. So he should not be surprised.

    James Brown (The Hardest Working Man in Show Business and Soul Brother #1) took a lot of heat for endorsing Richard Nixon for President.

    Barack Obama took a lot of heat for admitting that he was friends with a fellow University of Chicago professor by the name of Bill Ayers. He also took a lot of heat because he attended Jeremiah Wright’s church.

    That “heat” was the result of African Americans EXPECTING that James Brown would not associate his name with someone overtly using racism to get elected (see Southern Strategy). Obama’s “heat” was the result of those who opposed him using his friends to suggest that he was really a radical anarchist or an African American nationalist.

    This is nothing new.

    It is the way that political groups use societal taboos to punish people for behavior that they disapprove of. McConnell IS complicit and as a result responsible for the excesses of the Trump administration. James Brown WAS complicit with Nixon’s racist politics, but thought Nixon’s economic plan would be more helpful to African American businesses. Obama’s friendships were personal and not an endorsement of Bill Ayers past or Jeremiah Wright’s extremism. None the less, he had to distance himself from both men the friendships weren’t worth the public pain that they brought to a person seeking the presidency.

    I don’t think that Mitch McConnell will back down because people are harassing him public places, but isn’t that the point? There is a social cost to aligning yourself with the divisive politics and outright dishonesty of the current president. Why should McConnell get a pass for that?

    If we lived in a true democracy where the public vote counted more than the electoral college vote, Clinton would be president and likely would be just as unpopular with Trump supporters. Hard to say how they would express their displeasure, but I’m sure that they would find similar ways (just like the Tea Party) to be disruptive.

    It is also not McCarthyism. It could become McCarthyism if Trump starts to use the power of his office to punish those who disagree with him. That’s what we have to look out for, Alan Dershowitz can take care of himself.

  3. Keith says:

    I guess there is only one thing to say to the numerous replies above.
    Is everyone crossing the boarder seeking asylum?

    Also you are holding all trump supporters “complicit?” Get a life Jeff. We had two choices – really it was two. We also have two choices going forward. Democrats and republicans until something else comes along. I will support republicans over democrats most every day of the week. George Will is a wonderful commentator, as an example, but three years ago he would have killed for Supreme Court Justices like trump has places and will nominate. He would have died for tax reform, and many many of the things Trump has done. What he and others don’t like is Trump himself and his lack of “civility” and I don’t blame him/others. However consider for a moment those who did have civility, GW and an example or Mitt Romney. My goodness there is t a nicer person on earth them Mitt. Look what civility got them. Ripped to shreds by the Dems and the media. So what did civility get them? Please do not confuse. I prefer civility and would be myself. Please don’t hold be complicit in trumps broader miss steps. Because one supports the president doesn’t mean they support everything. You are then complicit in President Obama’s bombings which you did t agree with.

    We have choices and with today’s Dems guided by the far left and getting far lefter, there really isn’t a choice.

  4. Jeff Beamsley says:

    I guess there is only one thing to say to the numerous replies above.
    Is everyone crossing the boarder seeking asylum?

    The government doesn’t keep good statistics, but I think we can back into the number. Last year roughly 20K asylum requests were granted. The current grant rate is around 20%. That means that there were likely 400K application. That number is larger than the number of border apprehensions last yest (250K), so it is safe to say that most of those presenting themselves at the border are seeking asylum.

    Just as an aside, I think we should have better system for those just coming here to work, but I don’t have a problem enforcing the law that deports them either.

    Also you are holding all trump supporters “complicit?” Get a life Jeff. We had two choices – really it was two. We also have two choices going forward. Democrats and republicans until something else comes along. I will support republicans over democrats most every day of the week.

    If you continue to support Republicans, then you are complicit with both Trump’s actions AND the failure of the Republican controlled Congress to serve as an effective check on this President. My goodness, they can’t even get up the gumption to pass legislation to protect the Mueller investigation. Yet they threaten and murmur under their breathe that it would be “very bad” if Trump fired Mueller. They don’t respond when Trump suggests we strip asylum seekers of their constitutional right to prompt and fair hearing. They don’t respond when he accused Democrats of being traitors. I could go on, but it isn’t necessary. Republicans are TERRIFIED of Trump and the political cost that they will pay by opposing him. You have a choice and you should be willing to live with the consequences.

    George Will is a wonderful commentator, as an example, but three years ago he would have killed for Supreme Court Justices like trump has places and will nominate. He would have died for tax reform, and many many of the things Trump has done. What he and others don’t like is Trump himself and his lack of “civility” and I don’t blame him/others.

    This is NOT a conversation about civility. Please don’t trivialize it in that way.

    This is a conversation about Trump’s systematic dismantling of democracy. George Will has abandoned hope that a Republican Congress has the will to oppose Trump on ANYTHING.

    Ryan and many other Republicans have become the president’s poodles, not because James Madison’s system has failed but because today’s abject careerists have failed to be worthy of it. As explained in Federalist 51: “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place.” Congressional Republicans (congressional Democrats are equally supine toward Democratic presidents) have no higher ambition than to placate this president. By leaving dormant the powers inherent in their institution, they vitiate the Constitution’s vital principle: the separation of powers.

    Does that sound lie a plea for civility? Hardly, it is an indictment of Republicans for failing to hold up their end of the constitutional bargain outlined in Article I and Article II of the constitution.

    Ryan traded his political soul for . . . a tax cut. He who formerly spoke truths about the accelerating crisis of the entitlement system lost everything in the service of a president pledged to preserve the unsustainable status quo.

    Will is unhappy because this Congress has become transactional. They have sold their souls for a bag of coins. That’s why they have to go.

    Because one supports the president doesn’t mean they support everything. You are then complicit in President Obama’s bombings which you did t agree with.

    Sorry, but there is no comparable scale regarding past administrations. As Will observes, it isn’t that Democratic congresses weren’t also “supine” to use Will’s word. The difference is the man in the White House. Every past president, with perhaps the exception of Nixon, respected the institutions of the office and the democratic norms associated with that institution. Fortunately Congress including Republicans stood up to Nixon. There is no indication these Republicans are capable of doing that today. At this point, what’s going to happen if Mueller comes up with things that connect Trump PERSONALLY to obstruction of justice or consorting with the enemy claims? Right now it appears that Republicans will ignore it. What happens if Trump fires Mueller? If the Republicans retain control of the Senate, I suggest that NOTHING will happen. That’s the problem.

    But I’ll make you a deal. I will only hold you accountable for the actions of Trump the you choose to defend, for example family separation.

    We have choices and with today’s Dems guided by the far left and getting far lefter, there really isn’t a choice.

    It isn’t clear who will end up leading the Democrats. There is a progressive wing (which you call far left). There is also a centrist wing which includes pro-choice pro-2nd amendment folks. Our tent is big enough for you too, when you finally decide that you can no longer support Trump.

    IMHO, the problem was best described by Steve Tuttle, a local columnist in a norther Michigan paper.

    There is now research indicating the president’s support among his base is deepening. They believe he’s being unfairly maligned by the media and don’t care if he tells lots of whoppers. They have closed ranks.

    But his support is not broadening, and those opposed to him have also deepened their resolve. The president has done little to bridge that divide. His verbal assaults on American institutions, calling the press “the enemy of the people” and some FBI agents “scum,” don’t help much.

    We expect and accept a certain amount of “strategic hyperbole” from our politicians; accentuating the positive and ignoring the negative has always been a solid political strategy. We don’t, however, expect them to create their own reality while rewriting history in the process.

    The point is that it’s all so unnecessary. The president has a straightforward story to tell that his base would like just fine. In fact, he’s winning, which makes it difficult to understand why he keeps talking like a poor loser.

    My take, of course, is that Trump is at heart an authoritarian. In his mind, the ONLY way that he wins is to eliminate all those who oppose him. So he is determined to use all the power at his disposal to both defame and ultimately defeat anyone who criticizes him. That’s not the way our system of government was designed. Some of the guys who designed it (Jefferson and Adams) were bitter political enemies, but deeply respected the right of the other to advocate their position. Trump does not respect the right of anyone to oppose him. He calls them criminals, says they should be put in jail, and labels then traitors and enemies of the people. If Trump is able to continue his campaign unopposed, how long will it be before he begins to act on his threats? If we wait to find out, his may turn out to be the system of government that will have going forward.

    What you do with that information IS your choice, but thought leaders ACROSS THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM are raising the alarm. It IS your choice whether or not you are going to take their warning seriously.

  5. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Just had another thought about this line of reasoning.

    Is there a point at which you would oppose Trump and agree that he has overstepped his bounds?

    Dershowitz says that there IS no constitutional line constraining the President. There is only a political line (impeachment) which is determined by voters and the Congress that they elect.

    I don’t agree with that analysis, but since you are a fan of Dershowitz, let’s just go with that.

    I’m asking you as at voter, at this point in time, what would Trump have to do for you to support demanding that he be impeached?

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