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Thursday, May 17, 2018

ARM CHAIR SPECULATION


I assume readers of this blog are aware of the main outlines of the unfolding negotiations between North Korea and the Trump Administration, leading to North Korea’s abrupt cancellation of a projected meeting with South Korea and threatened cancellation of the Kim-Trump summit.  Prominent in North Korea’s announcement was a direct attack, by name, on John Bolton, Trump’s new National Security Advisor.  Bolton had gone on TV not merely to lay out the demand that North Korea completely give up its nuclear weapons, but also to explicitly reference the Libyan example as America’s model for North Korea.  Inasmuch as Ghaddafi ended up being shot dead in a drainage ditch some years after giving up his nuclear weapons, Kim not surprisingly expressed discomfort with that model.

John Bolton is a thoroughly despicable human being, but he is far and away the smartest, most knowledgeable, most experienced member of Trump’s administration.  I suggest that it is an absolute certainty that Bolton made that statement as a deliberate effort to scuttle what he patently considers Trump’s wrong-headed decision to seek out and agree to one-on-one talks with Kim.

It should be interesting to see how this plays out.

10 comments:

Jerry Brown said...

"John Bolton is a thoroughly despicable human being, but he is far and away the smartest, most knowledgeable, most experienced member of Trump’s administration."

Well thanks for scaring me half to death. If Bolton is the best of the bunch we are doomed. But I'm not sure he is anyway. Mattis seems to compare favorably and Kelly and Sessions are not newbies at least. Not that I like any of them.

LFC said...

From what I know about Mattis, which I must admit is not an enormous amount, I'd say he's as smart as Bolton (if not smarter, to the extent that even means anything in this context). I recall seeing some columnist or other refer to Mattis's personal library of 7,000 volumes on history and strategy etc.

LFC said...

Pompeo's also reasonably smart, from what I can gather, ditto prob. for some of his aides. Intelligence and wisdom being two different things, of course.

Charles Pigden said...

Wrt to Professor Wolff's ordinal post. Exactly - that hit me in the eye straight away. And now Bolton has got that fool Trump saying the very same thing. No Peace Prize for him if he carries on like this.

David Palmeter said...

Looks like our fearless leader has backed down--from the LA Times:


“The Libyan model isn’t a model that we have at all,” Trump told reporters during a photo session with the visiting secretary general of NATO. “We decimated that country.”

By contrast, if the U.S. reaches a deal with North Korea, Kim will “get protections that will be very strong,” Trump said. “He will have very adequate protection.”

From a policy point of view, that's reassuring. But I must confess that, from a political point of view, I'll swallow it reluctantly. Can you imagine what the Republicans would have said if Obama had made such a statement?

LFC said...

The refs to Libya are just a train wreck. Trump esp seems to have even less grasp than usual of what he's actually saying. As to Bolton's motives, one can speculate. But they shd all shut up about Libya. Joel Wit on the PBS NewsHour last night (accessed via radio in my case) had a pretty good analysis of what might actually be going on in the runup to the planned summit, beneath the public rhetorical froth. One thing that's pretty clear is that Kim is not going to give up his nukes on the basis of promises from the US and ROK to do such and such. It's going to be action for action, not action for promise. Assuming it gets that far, which it may well not.

F Lengyel said...

"Can you imagine what the Republicans would have said if Obama had made such a statement?"

Likewise if a Democratic president had made overtures to China instead of Nixon. The Republican hawkishness sometimes give them an advantage in their dealings with authoritarian states. (Again I agree with Prof Wolff: this is not a world I want to live in.)

Prof Wolff is more than likely right--again--about Bolton.

David Zimmerman said...

You write of John Bolton: "...but he is far and away the smartest, most knowledgeable, most experienced member of Trump’s administration."
On what do you base this remarkable assertion... other than on the rank ignorance and incompetence of the rest of Trump's "foreign policy team"? Wherein lie Bolton's smarts and knowledge? (His appalling experience we know all too much about.)

Anonymous said...

Talking about how "smart" his picks for these offices is one of T***p's typical diversions or redirects, remember? "We're gonna have the smartest people running things." It's not their general intelligence that's the main concern. As many of our comments are suggesting, it's their worldview, their politics.

Anonymous said...

"It should be interesting to see how this plays out."

Ha. How many times per day can this be written now, when discussing the moves of the Trump administration?

Interesting, yes, whether it leads to another entertaining prime time spectacle, or WW3...