Negotiations with North Korea reveal the real America

Summary: The peace negotiations with North Korea reveal much about America. The world is watching and learning, even if we remain oblivious.

“To prepare {to defend} everywhere is to prepare nowhere.”
— Sun Tzu in The Art of War.

Aircraft Carrier diplomacy

Brilliant Strategy Of Offering North Korea “The Libya Model”
Somehow Falls Through

By Caitlin Johnstone (gogue journalist).

“Three days before President Trump announced him as the new National Security Advisor, deranged mutant death walrus John Bolton appeared on Radio Free Asia and said of negotiations with North Korea, ‘I think we should insist that if this meeting is going to take place, it will be similar to discussions we had with Libya 13 or 14 years ago.’

“Bolton has been loudly and publicly advocating ‘the Libya model’ with the DPRK ever since. ‘I think we’re looking at the Libya model of 2003, 2004,’ Bolton said on Face the Nation last month, and said the same on Fox News Sunday in case anyone failed to get the message.

“Bolton never bothered to refine his message by saying, for example, ‘Without the part where we betray and invade them and get their leader mutilated to death in the streets.’ He just said they’re doing Libya again.

“This was what John Bolton was saying before he was hired, and this was what John Bolton continued to say after he was hired. This was what John Bolton was hired to do. He was hired to sabotage peace and facilitate death and destruction. That is what he does. That is what he is for. Can openers open cans, John Bolton starts wars. You don’t buy a can opener to rotate your tires, and you don’t hire John Bolton to facilitate peace. …

“’You know, there were some talk about the Libya model last week,’ Vice President Pence told Fox News on Saturday. ‘And you know, as the president made clear, you know, this will only end like the Libya model ended if Kim Jong-un doesn’t make a deal.’ …but that is because he is a fake plastic doll manufactured by Raytheon. …”


Machine Gun diplomacy

Anthropologist Maximilian Forte gives us a broader context for these events. This is an excerpt from his long and detailed analysis.

North Korea: The Undaunted State Tests the Limits of Empire.

“…Americans seem to know little and respect less about actual diplomacy. Today the US working definition of ‘diplomacy’ expands it to a default category: anything that is not massively explosive ‘shock and awe’ warfare must be diplomacy. Thus, absurdly, the US government speaks of sanctions designed to ‘strangle’ the North Korean economy and ‘kick it in the gut’ (as the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, has repeatedly stated), sanctions that do immense damage to the welfare of ordinary North Koreans, an act of massive collective punishment – it’s all ‘diplomacy’.

“If no US troops pull triggers or push buttons, then that’s all that is needed for diplomacy to exist. That is quite wrong. …

“While silence from North Korea prevailed for weeks since the first announcement of the chance for a meeting between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, the Americans instead could not seem to shut up even for a moment, even when it was absolutely necessary to really shut up. As if to confirm stereotypes of Americans that many of us outside the US share, any moment of silence had to be squeezed out by incessant American chatter. What emerged was an American soliloquy on the world stage, and it was embarrassing and cringe-worthy at the best of times.

  • “So American leaders dreamt aloud about the prospects of winning a Nobel prize (when the initiative was purely Korean – and was even announced by the South Korean foreign minister on the lawn of the White House, without any US official next to him).
  • “Then the Americans praised themselves for having been so tough on North Korea, because such statements could never humiliate anyone – not anyone whose humanity was not even recognized.
  • “On top of that, US leaders bellowed they would offer no concessions, even as North Korea took several concrete steps to advance peace.
  • “The only reason Trump would meet with Kim is that North Korea had developed advanced nuclear weapons, and the US knew that – Trump instantly agreeing to a summit was the highest confirmation that what North Korea had said about its weapons was in fact true all along, and the US was in direct peril.
  • “The North Koreans released US prisoners, and the US side called them ‘hostages’ – because ‘prisoners’ only exist in ‘civilized’ nations like the US, whereas in the dark holes of the world, where always innocent Americans never commit any crimes, any act of detention is ‘hostage-taking’. …

“Still not knowing when it was time to shut the hell up, American officials then decided to take matters over the top: they demanded immediate and irreversible denuclearization (the first part is unrealistic, and the second is absolutely impossible). Or else. Then the US president rushed to claim that North Korea had in fact accepted denuclearization, and thus tacitly obeyed the ‘or else’ part as well.

“The US decided to paint a picture for North Koreans of what their future would look like if they did not agree to all US demands (a stance that rendered negotiations pointless): the only future they could dream of was becoming another Libya. Perhaps deliberately, but John Bolton (national security adviser) and vice-president Mike Pence completely sabotaged any remaining chance for dialogue – Trump trying to claw back some of the remarks was half-hearted and made matters worse, as he too threatened a Libyan outcome.

“What does the American government know about diplomacy, when they don’t even know when it’s time to shut up? These are people accustomed to dancing in the end zones of other countries. Their ‘respect’ for international agreements, and thus international law, is manifested in how they tear up those agreements and walk away, or sign the agreements but never send them to Congress for ratification, or ignore the verdicts of the International Court of Justice.

“People who want peace show some seriousness of purpose, and the US shows no serious interest in peace. At some point very dangerous, very foolish assumptions infected official thinking in Washington:

  • that peace is for the weak;
  • that talking legitimates an opponent and raises his status (from animal to human); and,
  • that negotiations mean that one party is totally surrendering.



America wields great power, and does so with increasing belligerence. After WWII we led the creation of a diplomacy-based world. After 9/11 Bush Jr – then Obama – tore that down to one relying on force. We use economic sanctions, threats of military force, and frequent military attacks (from cruise missiles up to invasion and occupations).

This can’t end well for us. Eventually someone will strike back, shattering our delusion of invulnerability. But no matter what the ending, we are the citizens of America and bear responsibility for its deeds until then.


For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about grand strategy, about North Korea, and especially these…

  1. Is America a destabilizing force in the world?
  2. The Obama Doctrine:  we will attack and destroy all non-nuclear rivals.
  3. Look at America’s grand strategy. Why do we believe this nonsense?
  4. The “global commons” belongs to the world. Should America control it?
  5. Why is America militarizing, becoming a 21stC Prussia?
  6. We’ve attacked yet another nation. How long until somebody hits back?

To learn more about American “diplomacy”

"Washington Rules" by Andrew Bacevich
Available at Amazon.

Washington Rules:
America’s Path to Permanent War

by Andrew Bacevich (Wikipedia).

“Andrew J. Bacevich’s bestseller challenges the conventional wisdom that American security requires the United States (and us alone) to maintain a permanent armed presence around the globe, to prepare our forces for military operations in far-flung regions, and to be ready to intervene anywhere at any time. Adopted by administrations on both sides of the political spectrum during the past half century, this Washington consensus on national security has become foreign policy gospel when, according to Bacevich, it has outlasted its usefulness.

“With vivid, incisive analysis, Bacevich assails and exposes the preconceptions, biases, and habits that underlie this pervasive faith in military might, especially the notion that overwhelming superiority will oblige others to accommodate America’s needs and desires – whether for cheap oil, cheap credit, or cheap consumer goods. Instead, Bacevich argues that we must reconsider the principles which shape American policy in the world and acknowledge that fixing Afghanistan should not take precedence over fixing Detroit. As we enter a period when our militarism has become both unaffordable and increasingly dangerous, replacing this Washington consensus is crucial to America’s future and may yet offer the key to the country’s salvation.”

15 thoughts on “Negotiations with North Korea reveal the real America”

  1. How long until we feel some serious blowback from this? We can’t keep doing stuff like this until someone finally puts the pieces of al of our weaknesses together and exploits them.

  2. We’re actually in a uniquely good situation to run this particular train forever because of our geographic isolation. If I had to guess we may actually be kind of in the climax stage of this – I remember hearing people during the election season who said they felt morally obligated to back Trump because “at least he hasn’t done X Y Z of foreign policy.”

    I imagine some of the problem is that “diplomacy and friendship” are like, seven syllables, while “STRENGTH” is one, and that makes it easy to repeat “strength strength strength” forever.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      “We’re actually in a uniquely good situation to run this particular train forever because of our geographic isolation.”

      My guess (guess!) is the opposite. Geographic isolation means nothing in an era of cheap fast travel AND large first/second/third generation immigrants into the US. Time will tell.

    2. I am hesitant about thinking that cheap and fast travel would be a given. It seems like it might collapse abruptly in some actual major war situation… of course, I may be thinking of an “old type” war when we’d be getting (or are currently getting) some kind of “new type” war which would be largely conducted and perhaps even won before anybody thought about shutting down the airlines.

      I do think that the warmongers will need to build some kind of new consensus for this aggressive military positioning which thus far has not been happening. Unless the presentation will be “support the troops, which we define as blindly supporting every adventure they are sent on,” I suppose.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        “It seems like it might collapse abruptly in some actual major war situation…”

        That’s not the point here. The US isn’t attacking great powers who might declare convention war on us. We’re attacking smaller powers and non-state groups. They can use travel and immigrants for 4GW strikes in retailation against us.

        Our fixation with reliving WWII blinds us to the new world of 4GW. Which has been the case for a century. In 1914 the public and generals were ready for the Napoleonic Wars (1GW). During WWI they learned 2GW, and in 1929 were ready to re-fight WWI. During WWII they mastered 3GW, and have spent the past 60 years preparing for tanks rolling across continents and massive battles on the deep blue seas.

        They don’t appear to notice that we keep losing 4GWs. My guess (guess!) is that eventually we’ll piss off somebody enough for a 4GW strike that will catch the attention of the US public, its civilian leaders, and generals. Odd that 9/11 didn’t do so. A larger lesson is needed.

  3. We are already destroying ourselves from within. Debt and social loonacy will be our deciding factors. I’d like to see us get out of everywhere and become a benign actor until you duck with us. Then you step on their throat and crush em. Instead we engage in our current diplomacy method and when we use force we ROE ourselves into stupidity.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      If I had a dime for everybody since the Founding who said “we’re destroying ourselves” I’d be rich rich rich. Please take a deep breath, and have some perspective about history. Doomsters of Left and Right spin these stories about DOOM DOOM DOOM to manipulate you. Don’t let them.

  4. dear sir: “have some perspective about history” you suggest. well said. here’s a bit of my perspective. the u.s. is an empire. if there is one universal truth about empires as noted by observers from joseph tainter to erin morgerstern it is that ALL empires ultimately fail. there are no exceptions. here’s one more bit of perspective: “everything is fine until it’s no more” (alexei yurchak). the people living through imperial decline rarely notice it. like all empires, the u.s. will fail. that’s not doom porn, it’s just a fact as certain as the sun rising in the east. feel free to argue about the timing of our imperial demise but it will happen as surely as the seasons.

    1. Eventually the American empire will fail, whether that is in fifteen years or a hundred and fifty; but not every empire that falls destroys the mother country. Japan and the UK, though not without problems, remain civilized and reasonably free states, and those are probably closer to our situation than India, China, etc.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        That’s an important observation. But first, people take the “American Empire” metaphor too seriously. It is an empire in the sense of the Holy Roman Empire (not holy, not Roman, not an Empire). It is a useful analytical perspective, but not accurate in any meaningful sense.

        But the larger point you raise is the key one. As I wrote on July 4, 2006 —

        • Our wealth is just things (“hardware”), an inheritance from past generations. What we lose we can work to replace. Our aspirations to global hegemony were revealed as a mirage in Vietnam and Iraq, lasting less than two generations after WWII.
        • Our culture is a collection of discordant ideas, mixing lofty and base elements in a manner despised by much of the world — a disgust easily understood by watching our TV shows and movies, or listening to some of our popular music.
        • Our Constitution is just an idea inherited from the founders. We created it, and its death will give us the experience to do better with the next version.
        • We are America, strong because of our ability to act together, to produce and follow leaders. We are strong due to our openness to other cultures and ability to assimilate their best aspects. We are strong due to our

        ability to adapt to new circumstances, to roll with defeat and carry on. We will be what we want to be. The coming years will reveal what that is.

    2. Larry Kummer, Editor


      “it is that ALL empires ultimately fail. there are no exceptions.”

      I don’t understand why people consider that a useful observation. Everything fails, eventually. Individuals, nations, peoples. Eventually the Sun will burn out. Eventually the universe will die the heat death.

      So what does that prove?

  5. larry: it proves, i posit, that the united states should be reducing its military and foreign commitments; that saddling ourselves with trillions of dollars worth of military hardware and sunk costs in bases and associated logistics is handicapping this country’s economic development and that, if the united states is to have a post imperial future more like that of japan and less like that of the ussr an essential reordering of priorities must begin. unfortunately, the opposite seems to be happening. unlike the u.k. and japan there is no one around to undertake a marshall plan for the united states to help us recover from our self inflicted wounds.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      “I proves that the united states should be reducing its military and foreign commitments”

      The Second Law of Thermodynamics does not “prove” anything other than that all things end, eventually.

      To make your point you need to show that our current foreign policy increases America’s risk exposure or has other ill effects exceeding its benefits. I’ve written scores of posts showing this, in terms of specific examples. Books have been written showing this in extreme detail.

      All that is irrelevant. Our current foreign policy works for our rulers, America’s “stakeholders.” So long as we let them rule, they will do so in their interest. Not in ours. That could be a Fourth Law of Thermodynamics.

  6. The Man Who Laughs

    To borrow a phrase, the situation is hopeless, but not serious.

    First, I don’t claim any military experience. I’m an old line hex wargamer, so take this for whatever you think it’s worth.

    I don’t think there is going to be another war in Korea. We don’t have any useful offensive military options for a preemptive strike, because we’d be in the position of destroying South Korea in order to save it from an enemy not capable of successfully invading it. We can deter a North Korean nuclear strike on America, assuming Kim even has the capability to mount one. (They’ve never tested a missile with that kind of range.) The North Korean army is worn down from a lack of food, fuel, and modern equipment. They are incapable of punching through the defenses along the DMZ and taking Seoul. If they tried, the South Korean army could see them off with little to no help from us. For our part, we can’t bomb them while they have the population of Seoul hostage, and we can’t invade them because the South Koreans would have to provide most of the infantry rifle strength – and they won’t.

    So no one is likely to start a war. Kim wants to extract money and aid in exchange for promises of ending his nuclear program that he has no intention of keeping. He’d like a repeat of the Bill Clinton deal back in the 90s. He didn’t keep that one either, and he did pretty well out of it. (John Bolton was right about that deal, and he’ll never be forgiven for it.) Maybe Kim would like the same deal that Iran got (And Trump just walked away from) Maybe Kim just wants a pony and a plastic rocket. The Norks have been too troublesome and unreliable in the past for anyone to waste a lot of time dealing with them , especially given their lack of offensive military options, and any faction in North Korea opposed to a deal can point to your choice of Libya/Iran or whatever.

    If South Korea wants to meet with the North, sign a peace treaty make trade deals, and improve relations, then they can and they will, and they don’t need our permission. (Nor can we stop them.) The relevant Great Power here is China, which has more actual pull with the Norks than we do.

  7. “deranged mutant death walrus John Bolton”
    – Hah

    Seriously though, it seems there is a big faction within our government who will settle for nothing less than complete and unconditional surrender. They offer nothing in return, except what had already been taken away, and they demand complete and irreversible de-nuclearization, dismantling of the government, execution of the leadership, and a McDonald’s on every corner.
    Obviously this is not now and never would be an acceptable or reasonable demand.
    Even in 1945 Japan it was not a sure thing, but for the convenient graciousness of Emperor Hirohito.
    These people like John Bolton talk as if the US is a man negotiating with an insect, standing over it with his boot raised and ready to squish, as if he has nothing to lose from dropping his shoe, and nothing to gain from letting the bug go.
    But that’s very far from the truth. In reality, the US does in fact have something to lose from a failure to negotiate, and much potential gain if negotiations succeed.

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