An interesting article in the Washington Times poses a possibility of President Trump holding a deconfliction summit with North Korea –SEE HERE– And that begs a question of whether or not it’s actually plausible. I would state unequivocally yes, and here’s why.
If you have followed the foreign policy pattern of President Trump you immediately recognize he does not restrain himself to DC political customs or DC political norms. Indeed as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi optimistically noted, President Trump can accomplish many things because he brings a unique perspective to the world of policy and diplomatic engagement. Later repeating: “He Can Do The Impossible“.
Additionally since we originally outlined the likely scenario for a restart of the ‘six party talks‘ (China, South Korea, Russia, Japan and the U.S.), on August 13th, there has been some visible activity providing further evidence toward that end.
•Japan (Shinzo Abe) has stated they have “great confidence” in President Trump’s Asian national security approach. •South Korea (President Moon Jae-in) has stated they are “confident there will not be war again on the Korean peninsular“; •and they are willing to send a special envoy to North Korea to begin talks. •In addition, China has quietly removed the 71-year-old veteran diplomat, Wu Dawei, from the position of negotiator toward the DPRK, and replaced him with 58-year-old Kong Xuanyou. Kong is a long time Chinese diplomat in charge of Asian affairs and he speaks Korean.
All of this generally under-reported diplomatic activity has taken place within the past week while the American media was busy pushing Charlottesville narratives. But more importantly this activity took place while President Trump directed USTR Lighthizer to begin a section 301 trade investigation into China. POTUS Trump is ramping up the pressure on Chinese President Xi Jinping, but more specifically this action targets Beijing’s communist old guard who control both their economy and the DPRK behavior.
Additionally, into this uniquely Asian geopolitical dynamic we have India, and Prime Minister Modi, apparently finding some new energy to push back against their neighboring nemesis China. Literal “pushing back“, heck they got into a fist fight.
Now, between Trump’s China trade action, and Modi’s regional geographic action, there appears to be a traditional squeeze play working out. It would be intellectually dishonest not to recognize the appearance of some coordination, especially given the plans for Ivanka Trump to travel to India next month. [*nudge, nudge* *wink, wink* say-no-more]
Here’s where it gets interesting.
When you understand that Beijing is really the support structure for Kim Jong-Un, in that China uses the DPRK to keep the Western (mostly U.S.) economic threats out of Asia, you realize it’s against Beijing’s interest for President Trump and Kim Jong-un to deconflict.
If diplomacy prevails in the Korean Peninsular, the historic economic arrow is gone from China’s quiver. Indeed, many would argue there’s no greater threat to China’s overall ‘One-Road/One-Belt’ economic program. With peace comes viable economic relationships. The ability of China to use the DPRK as a sweatshop for their economy would potentially and realistically collapse.
So Beijing would want to impede diplomatic efforts. It’s in their sneaky-self best interests; it’s also just how they roll. However, even though China controls much of the Washington DC swamp via purchased lobby activity, they can’t control Trump; and they certainly can’t control Trump’s diplomatic approach toward engaging a foreign government.
Therefore China’s default position would be for China to ‘control‘ any meeting between the U.S., South Korea, and/or Japan, with Kim Jong-un. When you recognize this, you recognize what that provides – MORE TRUMP LEVERAGE.
See how that works?
POTUS Trump knows it would be against Beijing’s interests for Kim Jong-un to meet a reasonable and non-political deal maker like President Trump. That knowledge only fuels the probability of such a meeting taking place.
In an effort to control such a possibility, China will have to move fast to cut off any back channel discussion between Godzilla Trump, T-Rex and Dennis Rodman’s BFF Kim Jong-un. Hence, we discover the motive for Beijing working to quickly get Kong Xuanyou, the new emissary, into place. China is simply trying a better play for control by putting ‘six party talks’ back on the table.
Don’t be surprised to hear of those “six party talks” within days or weeks. And don’t be surprised to hear of the potential for direct talks and direct engagement with North Korea either by South Korea or Japan, or by…. wait for it, yup Godzilla Trump via T-Rex.
President Trump isn’t constrained to DC political customs and diplomatic outlooks of non-engagement with North Korea. Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t make a move within the next 30 days toward those ends.
After all, almost every bit of recent activity in Asia dovetails nicely with the position as it appeared only a little more than a week ago: August 13th:
As we have outlined extensively, President Trump holds all of the cards in this economic and trade standoff. The U.S. is China’s customer and there’s a $350 billion trade deficit.
However, President Trump cannot be completely open with the strategy because part of the long-term plan is to allow China to save face by giving up North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
It would be against Trump’s interests if the entire global and geopolitical community understood what was happening.
So the question becomes, how will we know when President Trump has won in the economic and national security challenge? Well, first let’s look at the geopolitical landscape and the known and identified calendar to view the goal timeline:
♦We know President Trump is planning to attend an ASEAN meeting in November.
♦We also know that President Trump is planning to visit China later this year. Most likely that trip will be part of the ASEAN engagement.
So it makes sense that President Trump would like to conclude the outline of the economic diplomacy by the time of the ASEAN and China visit – such that: A.) President Trump can outline the agreement and stroke the panda’s ego on his turf; and B.) President Xi Jinping can announce his magnanimous victory on behalf of great Panda’s incredible achievement in providing great security to the world.
Meanwhile, just prior to the ASEAN/China meetup, President Trump’s secret weapon, Ivanka, who happens to be the most beloved American in China, is deployed to India to capture the world’s attention with Narendra Modi hugs.
President Modi is the “Trump Card” in the geopolitical economic gamesmanship. China is currently at odds with India’s rise to economic power; Ballywood is very hot in the U.S. right now; and a warm Modi – Trump economic relationship is a foil against China’s heavy-handed extortion of their economic partners.
Whoopsie sounds like the makings of a fork in China’s One Road/One Belt plan.
Again, President Trump holds all the economic cards. Just look at what he did to neuter Russia’s economy when everyone was paying attention to the bouncing laser dot on the wall. The American and Western media missed it, but President Trump moved the entire geopolitical world via a strategic energy platform.
Sip this next paragraph slowly to enjoy the strategery:
From OPEC (Saudi Summit) to the EU and Baltic States (Poland Pre-G20); to North African energy development via President Macron (Libya and Mali); to walking away from the Paris Climate agreement; to discussions with Theresa May on a bilateral trade deal; to massive shipments of coal to U.K. and France; to closing a deal to deliver Ireland massive amounts of Texas LNG; to our own internal U.S. energy production policy with pipelines, Oil, Coal and Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) etc.
President Trump used all of those “allied” relationships to lower global energy prices.
The bigger part of the ‘big-missed-picture‘ was how that energy strategy impacted adversaries like Russia, Iran etc. and simultaneously supported the larger America-First economic and geopolitical space.
President Trump thinks seriously long-term, and really BIG picture.
President Trump thinks so far out in front of his detractors they genuinely cannot fathom the sequential logic behind the day-to-day granular activity.
Yes, in large part this is what makes President Trump so enjoyable to watch politically. Just like the American media, our international adversaries and competitors have no reference point for a U.S. President that is entirely independent from influence.
So we can safely predict that sometime in late fall, most likely before the ASEAN visit timeline in November, President Trump and Rex Tillerson will be engaged in a new round of Six Party Talks, initiated by request of the increasingly desperate China.
China will structure the DPRK talking points to set up the meetings. This is a part of how China is allowed to save face and sets up the magnanimous Panda narrative.
The six party talks will be essentially a Marshal Plan of sorts for North Korea. Japan, South Korea, The United States, China, Russia and North Korea will enter into a set of negotiations publicly sold as engaging in diplomacy and reducing tension.
President Trump (or T-Rex) will sit on the patio complimenting Xi Jinping (or deputy), and Russian, Japanese and South Korean emissaries.
Meanwhile, in the conference room, Secretary Wilbur Ross, USTR Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will play the role of Willy Wonka handing out the golden economic tickets to the representatives who all line up with their requests.
President Trump’s golf partner Shinzo Abe will already have his ticket, but he’ll play along. The only real negotiations will be between the U.S. Russia and China. Russia will be negotiating for higher regional energy prices to get their GDP growing again, and China negotiating to retain as much of the $500 billion trade surplus as possible.
The end result will be Kim Jong-un giving up his nuclear ambitions for good; the U.N. enters under carefully negotiated terms, and Big Panda promises to the world to be the magnanimous insurance policy therein. Everything between now and that outcome is optically chaff and countermeasures.
That’s essentially the way the bright economic and national security future looks today.
Then again, it might get brighter – gilded even.
After all, this is President Donald Trump we’re talking about.