STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

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: 514171

Reported Deaths: 10285
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34920557
DeSoto33270432
Hinds32652642
Jackson24876391
Rankin22516404
Lee16366245
Madison14932283
Jones14129247
Forrest13785260
Lauderdale12279324
Lowndes11314193
Lamar10663140
Pearl River9720244
Lafayette8855143
Hancock7839132
Washington7553169
Oktibbeha7216138
Monroe7036179
Pontotoc7003109
Warren6872178
Panola6768135
Neshoba6732210
Marshall6686142
Bolivar6451151
Union640898
Pike5933156
Alcorn5887107
Lincoln5533136
George510380
Prentiss505385
Tippah492783
Itawamba4857107
Scott478199
Adams4771125
Tate4765117
Leflore4736144
Copiah457095
Yazoo456692
Simpson4554117
Wayne443172
Covington434695
Sunflower4315106
Marion4279112
Coahoma4238109
Leake414090
Newton395782
Tishomingo384894
Grenada3777109
Stone365766
Jasper340866
Attala338790
Winston317892
Chickasaw316167
Clay312578
Clarke301295
Calhoun285949
Holmes271889
Smith269452
Yalobusha244247
Tallahatchie232053
Greene224749
Walthall221866
Lawrence219141
Perry213456
Amite209857
Webster206248
Noxubee188743
Montgomery181857
Carroll174941
Jefferson Davis173843
Tunica163339
Benton153139
Kemper145041
Choctaw136727
Claiborne134439
Humphreys132139
Franklin126029
Quitman107628
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845761

Reported Deaths: 16119
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161862004
Mobile742411381
Madison53315732
Shelby38351369
Baldwin38104589
Tuscaloosa36052641
Montgomery34492781
Lee25590263
Calhoun22598518
Morgan22459406
Etowah20026518
Marshall18790316
Houston17741425
St. Clair16904358
Limestone16153219
Cullman16067303
Elmore15912294
Lauderdale14991306
Talladega14209299
DeKalb12985269
Walker12067380
Blount10729192
Autauga10526157
Jackson10170194
Coffee9425192
Colbert9341208
Dale9024192
Tallapoosa7273201
Russell708865
Chilton7042170
Escambia6956143
Covington6943195
Franklin6338108
Chambers5785142
Marion5413130
Dallas5295209
Pike5123109
Clarke484886
Lawrence4831129
Winston4780110
Geneva4643136
Bibb434594
Barbour369980
Butler3439100
Marengo342393
Monroe337466
Randolph334867
Pickens333988
Fayette330085
Henry320766
Hale318489
Cherokee318363
Crenshaw260777
Washington256952
Cleburne254560
Lamar251953
Clay251169
Macon245064
Conecuh193162
Coosa185547
Lowndes178268
Wilcox177638
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 53°
Columbus
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 55°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 50°
Starkville
Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 48°
High pressure will continue to dominate our weather forecast for the next few days. This will keep our area on the dry side and on the unseasonably warm side for this time of the year. We will see most high temperatures well into the 70s over the next few afternoons.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather