The Korean “Deal”

Objectively, from the perspective of the US and most of the rest of the world, Trump lost hard. He traded away joint military exercises with South Korea, plus a summit, plus kind words for nothing at all. North Korea got everything and we got less than nothing.

So, it’s a shit deal. We might overall be better off today than yesterday because Trump now has a big incentive not to go to war with North Korea. But…that’s not a lot!

Trump, on his own terms, won. It doesn’t matter that such a deal was always available (because it’s great for NK and terrible for us). The fact is that he got it and no one else did. Since it’s his, he thinks it’s great. Since he’s shameless and ignorant, he will tout it like crazy as awesome.

The “logic” is, of course, the opposite for Iran.

Give one point to Trump, Bolton was tamed for this.



The Cheney-Bush adminstration and its enablers are evil and crazy. I can’t believe attacking Iran is even on the table. Esp. when one considers some of the events described by Craig Unger in Vanity Fair:

Shortly after the invasion of Iraq, when the U.S. mission there seemed accomplished or at least accomplishable, Iran came to fear that it would be next in the crosshairs. To stave off that possibility, Iran’s leadership, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, began to assemble a negotiating package. Suddenly, everything was on the table—Iran’s nuclear program, policy toward Israel, support of Hamas and Hezbollah, and control over al-Qaeda operatives captured since the U.S. went to war in Afghanistan.

This comprehensive proposal, which diplomats took to calling “the grand bargain,” was sent to Washington on May 2, 2003, just before a meeting in Geneva between Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Javad Zarif, and neocon Zalmay Khalilzad, then a senior director at the National Security Council. (Khalilzad went on to become the U.S. ambassador to Iraq and was recently nominated to be America’s envoy to the U.N.) According to a report by Gareth Porter in The American Prospect, Iran offered to take “decisive action against any terrorists (above all, al-Qaeda) in Iranian territory.” In exchange, Iran wanted the U.S. to pursue “anti-Iranian terrorists”—i.e., the MEK. Specifically, Iran offered to share the names of senior al-Qaeda operatives in its custody in return for the names of MEK cadres captured by the U.S. in Iraq.

Well aware that the U.S. was concerned about its nuclear program, Iran proclaimed its right to “full access to peaceful nuclear technology,” but offered to submit to much stricter inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.). On the subject of Israel, Iran offered to join with moderate Arab regimes such as Egypt and Jordan in accepting the 2002 Arab League Beirut declaration calling for peace with Israel in return for Israel’s withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders. The negotiating package also included proposals to normalize Hezbollah into a mere “political organization within Lebanon,” to bring about a “stop of any material support to Palestinian opposition groups (Hamas, Jihad, etc.) from Iranian territory,” and to apply “pressure on these organizations to stop violent actions against civilians within borders of 1967.”

To be sure, Iran’s proposal was only a first step. There were countless unanswered questions, and many reasons not to trust the Islamic Republic. Given the initiative’s historic scope, however, it was somewhat surprising when the Bush administration simply declined to respond. There was not even an interagency meeting to discuss it. “The State Department knew it had no chance at the interagency level of arguing the case for it successfully,” former N.S.C. staffer Flynt Leverett told The American Prospect. “They weren’t going to waste [Colin] Powell’s rapidly diminishing capital on something that unlikely.”

So, Iran took the first step and the crazies couldn’t be bothered to even acknowledge it. And I really sigh heavily at the throwaway line about there being many reasons not to trust the Islamic Republic. What are they? The Iran-Contra showed that it’s possible to deal with Iran, albeit not necessarily with wild success. (I’m skeptical, in general, that there was — or is — such a high level of control by Iran over Hezbollah that Iran can just have Hezbollah do stuff.

Grrr. Argh. We’ve overthrown governments in the region (including Iran’s!); we’ve bombed, invaded, occupied, etc. etc. and Iranians have to show good faith? And there’s pretty clearly nothing they could do that would show good faith?

They offered to join with Egypt and Jordan wrt Israel! That’s huge! Obviously, it doesn’t solve everything, or perhaps anything, about the Israeli-Palistinian ongoing disaster, but it certainly seems to be something Israel should want!

There’s this attitude toward diplomacy that drives me nuts. One is that only the bad or silly things “the Other” says counts and only in the most bad and silly form, or that it has the worst possible consequences. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad clearly is unhelpfully inflammatory even on the best readings (e.g., Juan Cole’s), however, Ahmadinejad isn’t even the top executive figure in Iran! (In the Cole post, we have this choice point: “Supreme Jurisprudent Khamenei’s pledge of no first strike against any country by Iran with any kind of weapon, and his condemnation of nuclear bombs as un-Islamic and impossible for Iran to possess or use, was completely ignored by the Western press and is never referred to.” So, the guy in charge says no aggression of any kind. The guy not in charge says something which can be interpreted nastily. Only the strongest readings of the guy not in charge count, and they trump any reading of the guy in charge. Remember that Bush declared Iran as part of the axis of evil and then has actually destroyed and occupied one of the enumerated members of the axis of evil. Something quite close to the current Iranian regime bought weapons from Israel.)