Ben Weingarten

Reader. Writer. Thinker. Commentator. Truth Seeker.

Tag: North Korea

Why Euphoria Over the Korean Détente is Dangerously Premature

When news broke that President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un would sit down for negotiations with a specific focus on “denuclearization,” I counseled that America deal with North Korea skeptically, cautiously, and with no illusions about the Stalinist regime’s nature.

This advice still holds in the wake of the euphoric coverage of Kim Jong-Un’s historic trip to South Korea, and the sweeping declaration the two nations signed emphasizing their dedication to ending the Korean War and normalizing relations, “denuclearization,” and ultimately reunification of the Korean peninsula.

In a new piece at The Federalist I parse the perilous Panmunjom Declaration.

As I note, words shared by Kim Jong-Un and dovish South Korean leader Moon Jae-in such as “peace,” “denuclearization,” and “unification” are at present ill-defined.

While acknowledging the magnitude of a potential “peace” on the Korean peninsula, we must remember that the terms of that peace, and who is dictating those terms, matters.

While denuclearization — if it means the dismantling and destruction of North Korea’s nuclear program in its entirety — would be excellent, how do we know this wouldn’t be a Potemkin exercise with the North concealing sites, weapons and materials of which we are unaware? Remember that North and South Korea have been party to a denuclearization agreement since 1992.

While in theory reunification might sound like a positive development, we have no idea whether South Korea’s relatively free governmental system would prevail, or if North Korea’s Communist gulag state system would dominate.

When Kim says “We will work towards preventing another horrible war…North and South Korea will be joined as one nation,” consider: What if the means to “preventing another horrible war” is the imposition of a horrible peace?

Last but not least, one should read the Panmunjom Declaration in context of Kim Jong-il’s alleged last will and testament. The declaration tracks perfectly with what Kim Jong-Un’s father advocated in terms of its means and ends. His goal was reunification under Communist rule, with NO denuclearization.

Is the North’s charm offensive a ruse? Will Kim collect all of the benefits of at best some form of a freeze and perhaps superficial dismantling efforts, only for the United States to wake up one day with a reunified Korea rid of U.S. soldiers under one-party Communist rule, and thus an even more dominant China proxy with an expanded regional footprint?

If past is prologue, America’s utmost skepticism is more than merited.

Listen to the London Center ‘Grand Strategy Podcast’ on National Security and Foreign Affairs

Believing firmly that there is a lack of rich audio content on national security and foreign affairs, London Center for Policy Research President Herb London and I decided to launch the “London Center Grand Strategy Podcast.”

Each biweekly podcast features vigorous discussion on vital issues of American national interest, covering critical events around the globe with an eye towards threats and opportunities, and a grounding in history and political philosophy.

In our latest episode, Episode 3, which you can find at top of this post, we discuss the appointment of John Bolton as national security advisor, what Kim Jong-un really means by “denuclearization,” comprehensive efforts to counter China, the importance of information warfare, the expulsion of Russian agents from the West and much more.

If you like what you hear, please consider subscribing on iTunes (you can also subscribe at Google Play and Stitcher or grab the RSS at Libsyn).

If you really like what you hear, please give us a five-star rating and kindly write us a review.

Our first two episodes are below:

On North Korea Distrust and Verify

For The Federalist I prepared a quick analysis of the political and policy implications of the forthcoming U.S. – North Korea summit.

As I note in the piece, America must define what is in its national interest in North Korea, and have an understanding as to the regime’s ultimate goal.

Few have raised outgoing Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris’ view, in spite of his experience leading America’s forces in the region: That North Korea desires to reunify Korea under Communist rule, contrary to the conventional wisdom that Kim Jong-un’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles are solely about ensuring his regime’s survival.

Adm. Harris’ ignored perspective squares perfectly with what Kim Jong-il indicated in his purported last will and testament.

In fact, virtually all of Kim Jong-un’s actions have tracked perfectly with what his father allegedly counseled.

Read my take on the forthcoming talks here.

Three Swamp Myths Trump’s National Security Strategy Exposes

For The Federalist I explore three key national security and foreign policy myths the Trump administration’s new National Security Strategy exposes — and seeks to overturn.

In challenging these myths, the administration also challenges the progressive Wilsonian internationalist worldview that underlies them, which is essential because flawed premises lead to failed policies.

If we are to imbue our policies with the Jeanne Kirkpatrickian core of the Trump administration’s strategy of “principled realism,” we will truly have a safer, more secure and more prosperous America.

I’ve summarized my piece in a Twitter thread unraveled below.

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My In-Depth Interview with John Yoo on the Future of War, North Korea, Iran, Free Speech and More (Video)

For the first episode of Encounter Books’ new “Close Encounters” video interview series, I spoke with former Bush administration Justice Department official and bogeyman laureate for the Left, John Yoo, on his new book Striking Power: How Cyber, Robots, and Space Weapons Change the Rules for War.

During the interview we discuss the future of warfare given tremendous technological advances in the way of robotics, autonomous vehicles and cyberweapons, how the rules of war help terrorists, Yoo’s views on dealing with Iran Deal and North Korea, how America is losing the “War on Terror,” the state of free speech on our college campuses, and much more.

America’s Progressive Foreign Policy Imperils Her Survival

Today the men and women who walk the morally decrepit corridors of the White House and State Department of our Republic-turned-social democracy are aiding, abetting and enabling evil.

We find ourselves at a time in history when all of our foes from Islamic supremacists to the Russians and Chinese are ascendant, while America at best retreats and at worst sides with the most dangerous of them.

Barack Obama delivers his statement on the interim Iran deal. (Image Source: Whitehouse.gov/YouTube screengrab)

Barack Obama delivers his statement on the interim Iran deal. (Image Source: Whitehouse.gov/YouTube screengrab)

Our enemies do not fear or respect us, our allies do not trust us and little indicates that the American people are cognizant of the size and scope of the perils that face us.

We are reliving Winston Churchill’s gathering storm in an era when it is questionable whether the majority of American citizens even know who Churchill is, let alone what he did. Many of those who do likely see him first and foremost as a dead white European male.

And unlike in World War II, today we are challenged by Nazis (insofar as Islamic supremacists are genocidal, Jew (and Christian) hating monsters who seek to dominate the world) and Communists (in their Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping-led manifestations.)

In the face of all this, America’s left exhibits two traits that together are fatal: hubris and ignorance.

Leftists have the hubris to believe that they can and should create a world according to their progressive vision – for the good of the people and their own aggrandizement.

Leftists have the ignorance of history and man’s nature that renders them unable to anticipate the dire consequences of their course.

Underlying their actions is the belief that all people are animated by the same goals and aspirations.

Yet different peoples are different. Evil cannot be appeased or assuaged. The world must be seen as it is, not as we wish it to be.

Continue reading at TheBlaze…

Mark Steyn speaks with TheBlaze on his new book, and everything from global warming to Common Core to the First Amendment

We spoke with best-selling author and columnist Mark Steyn in connection with the release of a newly updated version of his entertaining and insightful book of obituaries and appreciations, “Mark Steyn’s Passing Parade.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Steyn spoke with TheBlaze Books on his newly updated book, the fate of America, and issues ranging from gay marriage to global warming to free speech to education and Common Core. The interview, which we conducted in-person, is transcribed below with edits for clarity and links.

If you appreciate this interview, be sure to follow Blaze Books on Facebook and Twitter.

Give us a brief synopsis of your newly updated book, “Passing Parade: Obituaries & Appreciations.“

Steyn: Well my big books in recent years have been on the big geopolitical, socio-economic picture. A lot of statistics, lot of numbers, lot of big picture stuff. “America Alone” is essentially a book about demography – I mean I got a best-selling book about demography which doesn’t happen very often, but it’s about fertility rates, really. “After America” in some ways is about debt – it’s about multi-trillion dollar numbers. And they’re all big picture things, but for me the real pleasure is writing about people, and reminding yourself…that it’s not all fertility rates and debt/GDP ratios, but that at the right moment of history, one individual can make a difference. And the people in this book are people who made a difference. That can be in the sense of winning the Cold War like Ronald Reagan did, or it can be in the sense of William Mitchell, who’s the guy who invented Cool Whip…I like writing obituaries. The only thing I would say is that it’s hard to write about people you…you can’t be entirely negative or hateful about people. There’s gotta be something in there [within the person] that you respond to.

And it’s interesting – even someone like Romano Mussolini, who is the Mussolini’s son – Il Duche – the big-time fascist dictator of Italy…Romano Mussolini was a jazz pianist of all things, and I met him once when he came to play in London. His group was called the “Romano Mussolini All Stars.” And after the war in Italy, his dad had been hung from a lamppost, the bottom had dropped out of the dictating business, but Romano got to be the jazz pianist that he’d always wanted to be. But he thought the Mussolini name wouldn’t go well, so he changed his name to the equivalent of “Romano Smith and His Trio.” And nobody came to see him. And then he discovered that actually, the Romano Mussolini All Stars, that that was actually quite a draw with the jazz crowd. But there’s even in that – as I said, Mussolini wound up hanging from a lamppost when they caught up with him with his mistress, but even…the final anecdote about that is that the last time Romano saw his dad, when his time had almost run out, and everybody was catching up with him, and his dad came in effectively to say “Goodbye…” he didn’t know it would be the last time he saw him and he asked him to play some music from Franz Lehár, from The Merry Widow. And just that, even in the…just that little vignette is like a very poignant, human moment, in the life of someone who a couple weeks later was hanging from that lamppost.

I think you always have to if you’re writing – even if you’re writing about – whoever it is, there’s gotta be some little way into the story that makes them human.

And you know as bad as things are – when I think back to that time for example, and I think when Neville Chamberlain was forced out of the prime ministership in the spring of 1940, if the Tory party had picked Lord Halifax instead of Winston Churchill, the entire history of the 20th century would have been different. And so the lesson you draw…we’re in New York City…Winston Churchill was almost hit by a car crossing 5th Avenue in 1932 or whatever it was – if that taxicab had actually left the tread marks over Winston Churchill — again the entire history of the second half of the 20th century would have been different. And so the lesson you draw from that is that yes the debt numbers are bad, yes the demographic numbers are bad, yes all the big picture stuff, the trends, the macroeconomic stuff is all bad, but even so, one man, the right man at the right moment can make all the difference…extraordinary people can make all the difference.

One of the obituaries that I thought interesting was Strom Thurmond’s. Give some readers insight into the story in which you were stuck in an elevator between Barbara Boxer and Strom Thurmond.

Steyn: I was covering the impeachment trial of President Clinton, which was the first time I’d been exposed close up to the United States Senate, which is not a lovely site. And one of the few interesting things as that trial wore on was actually Strom Thurmond because he – Clinton had the sort of two sexpot lady lawyers – and Strom Thurmond used to bring candy for them each day, and then press them with his 112-year old lizard-like hands into their fingers. And you could see the women were like, fatally taken aback by this, but at a certain level they understood that this was what it was gonna take to prevent their guy from being removed from office. And in the end, Strom did not vote to remove Clinton from office, in part I do believe because he had the hots for those lawyers.

But yea, there was one moment at the end of the day where we were sort of pressed in a crush – me, Barbara Boxer, Strom Thurmond, and a ton of other people. And I suddenly noticed what I thought was this like incredible-sized lizard on the sleeve of my coat. And I was listening to – I think Barbara Boxer was talking – so you look down in horror as this thing is moving down your arm, and then I realize that as it then reached down and began to stroke my hand that it was the incredibly wizened fingers of Strom Thurmond who I think had been meaning to reach over and stroke Barbara Boxer’s hand, but had fallen a little short, and ended up stroking mine.

What can you do? It’s not often…people are always saying your editors always want you to get up close and personal with these political figures, and I felt, if nothing else, I’d done some serious heavy petting with Strom Thurmond.

But, you know, we live in hyper-partisan times, and that’s fair enough. My view basically of the American situation — Mark Levin and I were actually talking about this one time, and Mark put it very well: it’s a 50/50 nation and one side has to win, and the other side has to lose. And I tend to agree with that. All that said though, when you’re being groped by Strom Thurmond, it’s important to be able to recognize the comedy in your own side too. I like to think I could always do that.

Read more at TheBlaze…

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