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Kim wants a Donald Trump-John Bolton breakup

This week, North Korea's Kim regime is fanning the flames of tension, and not along the DMZ that separates the nation...

Posted: May 17, 2018 8:59 AM
Updated: May 17, 2018 8:59 AM

This week, North Korea's Kim regime is fanning the flames of tension, and not along the DMZ that separates the nation from its neighbors to the south.

Rather, the dividing line Kim is focused on is one he hopes to draw through a single building on the opposite side of the world, one that also happens to be located, like the border between the Koreas, on the 38th parallel: the White House. It would run, they hope, between President Donald Trump and his national security adviser, John Bolton.

Pyongyang's Tuesday announcement that it would not participate in a summit with the US President if the objective is to force North Korea to unilaterally give up nuclear weapons came as a shock to the Trump administration. It was also no doubt a blow to President Donald Trump, who has already been crowing in public about his eligibility for the Nobel Peace Prize should he achieve a breakthrough during the summit, which is scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.

But Trump was just one of the targets of the message. The choicest words in the North Korean statement were directed at the ultra-hawkish Bolton. "We do not hide our feeling of repugnance toward him," said senior North Korean diplomat Kim Kye Gwan in the official statement.

Bolton, who is known to be extremely skeptical of North Korea's recent willingness to negotiate, has in the past argued for pre-emptive military strikes to stop the North's nuclear program. He has also argued for similar strikes in the case of Iran.

In fact, given his historical stance and taste for saber-rattling bluster, it would not be that shocking to me were he to consider such strikes against Canada if NAFTA talks went off the rails. (Ok, here I have to join in with the North Koreans. I can't hide my feeling of repugnance toward him either.)

In fact, whoever left him off the invitation list to the royal wedding probably should not sleep so soundly, either.

The North Koreans, not known for their sense of humor, did assert that it would be a "ridiculous comedy" if Trump were to pay too much attention to Bolton's positions. They are particularly unhappy with his use of Libya as a model for the denuclearization talks because they realize those did not turn out too well for Moammar Gadhafi, who ended up being beaten and stabbed to death by a mob in the street not too long after he gave up his nukes.

In its statement, the Kim regime also rejected out of hand the idea that it would have to give up all its nuclear weapons before receiving any compensation from the United States.

The North Korean statement, while shocking to the White House, came as no surprise to veteran Korea watchers who knew the path to a deal would have many twists, and who, almost universally, are deeply skeptical that the leadership in Pyongyang has any intention of giving up its nuclear capability voluntarily. Seasoned observers know also that the North's negotiators are tough, canny and famously unreliable.

The verbal pre-emptive strike fired yesterday that targeted Bolton and any other US hard-liners carried the implicit message to President Trump that he had better make the twisting bit of West Wing corridor separating his office from Bolton's a new stretch of no-man's land if he wants the acclaim, and distraction from his legal problems, that might come with a deal.

If Trump signals more flexibility, then the summit he craves may still happen. (And indeed, within hours, Sarah Sanders denied that Libya was ever considered a model for the US approach to North Korea.)

At the same time, if Trump shows (yet again) he wants a deal that badly, the North Koreans will then seek to push even harder for more compromises. In fact, that was almost certainly their plan all along -- to see what they could get for relatively modest, gradual concessions, and without having to give up their nuclear crown jewels.

This might make Bolton even more apoplectic than he usually appears to be, but the problem for Trump & Co. is they have no good plan B.

For all the talk of "fire and fury," it is more likely that it is not Trump's toughness that has brought Kim to the negotiating table, but rather his perceived weakness, his need for a deal -- as well as the enhanced confidence the North Koreans have thanks to their development of a nuclear arsenal that's not likely to be dismantled anytime soon.

Throw in to this mix Trump's known willingness to ignore his advisers, and Tuesday's gambit from Kim makes perfect sense -- and should be seen as the real start of the North Korea nuclear talks.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319704

Reported Deaths: 7369
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22276267
Hinds20677421
Harrison18407317
Rankin13880282
Jackson13689248
Madison10249224
Lee10056176
Jones8464167
Forrest7827153
Lauderdale7260242
Lowndes6509150
Lamar634888
Lafayette6310121
Washington5420137
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Panola4669110
Oktibbeha466098
Pearl River4604147
Marshall4573105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425373
Union415777
Monroe4155135
Neshoba4061179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386687
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3369111
Alcorn325972
Scott320174
Yazoo314171
Adams307486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298189
Tippah291968
Prentiss283861
Leake271974
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George252051
Newton248663
Tishomingo231568
Winston229981
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190374
Clay187854
Stone187833
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164034
Walthall135347
Greene131833
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127138
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108033
Tunica108027
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69532
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548323

Reported Deaths: 11288
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson809531565
Mobile42066826
Madison35663525
Tuscaloosa26162458
Shelby25595254
Montgomery25081612
Baldwin21839313
Lee16265176
Calhoun14718325
Morgan14626285
Etowah14171363
Marshall12449230
Houston10764288
Elmore10295213
Limestone10182157
St. Clair10160251
Cullman9941201
Lauderdale9596249
DeKalb8967189
Talladega8458184
Walker7335280
Autauga7230113
Blount6944139
Jackson6922113
Colbert6414140
Coffee5627127
Dale4929114
Russell454941
Chilton4472116
Franklin431083
Covington4273122
Tallapoosa4136155
Escambia401780
Chambers3726124
Dallas3607156
Clarke352961
Marion3242106
Pike314078
Lawrence3129100
Winston283572
Bibb268464
Geneva257581
Marengo250665
Pickens236862
Barbour234659
Hale226878
Butler224071
Fayette218162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph187044
Monroe179341
Washington170439
Macon162951
Clay160159
Crenshaw155657
Cleburne153244
Lamar146537
Lowndes142054
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh113430
Coosa111429
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93534
Choctaw62025
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