The Great Powers battle over North Korea. Gregory Copley Defense & Foreign Affairs

May 12, 04:09 AM


(Photo:U.S. Air Force attacking railroads south of Wonsan on the eastern coast of North Korea


Twitter: @BatchelorShow

The Great Powers battle over North Korea. Gregory Copley Defense & Foreign Affairs

"...In summary, everything about the “bilateral” US-DPRK talks ripples through a broader, global agenda, for all players, not just Washington and Pyongyang. Pres. Trump’s seemingly unambitious approach to the talks — “if we don’t get an agreement, we simp-ly walk away” — has added impetus to the DPRK’s need to gain something from the process. But, in fact, Pyongyang has already gained considerably in its negotiating posi-tion, and ability to be able to open relations internationally, even if the Trump-Kim talks fail to give an immediate iconic result (which is likely, apart from the “normalization” the-atrics). What the process has begun to give is the cosmetic that now it is the DPRK which drives for a denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. It calls the bluff of the US, but, in fact, extends into the distant future before North Korea would, in fact, be obliged to abandon its comprehensive strategic capability. Similarly, there would be no likelihood that the US would not have to meaningfully reduce its regional posture. But what this process does is that it enables (a) an end to the Korean War in a formal sense, and (b) increasing normalization in DPRK-ROK relations, enabling a phased process by which logistical lines through the DPRK could enhance trade from the ROK through to Western Europe via Russia. The new process will have some tangible outcomes in that the DPRK will achieve a greater degree of separation from Beijing, but this will also reduce Beijing’s responsibil-ity for the DPRK economy, without seeing the DPRK move out of substantial influence from Beijing. It seems that Pres. Xi Jinping can accept that, because it is, in fact, a very comfortable trade-off for the PRC. And the PRC would benefit, as well, from a more stable and economically growing neighborhood, which would include a more prosperous Russian Far East. Certainly, in the long run, if the process leads (as it almost certainly will) to a Russia-Japan normalization, then the PRC would have to consider the revived Pacific strength of Russia as a possible/probable long-term strategic constraint. It would also have to figure that Japan itself would have an improved strategic capability, but that Japan itself might be constrained by the growth of Russian Asian strength. And Beijing is still warily attempting to determine whether the new closeness of the DPRK and ROK might mean a reduction in US influence on the Peninsula, or whether the US has, in fact, been able to strengthen its overall posture in the region, particularly with the ROC and the First Island Chain. The net effect of the Trump initiative to engage with Kim Jong-Un — and it was, indeed, entirely a Trump- generated phenomenon, supported strongly by Japan and Russia — will be portrayed as a win-win by all players. Certainly, there is likely to be a reduction in Korean Peninsula tensions, even as a result of the “normalization” of relations between the DPRK and the ROK. "