Trump-Kim meeting marginalizes China
For years, China has had a contradictory policy on North Korea. On one hand, it condoned Pyongyang's nuclear program, while on the other it tried to broker talks to shut it down. Now, with U.S. President Donald Trump accepting an invitation from Kim Jong-un to meet and discuss denuclearization, China has been sidelined. It will still hold plenty of economic sway over its neighbor, but its grip on Pyongyang is clearly weakening.
The ‘neutralization option’ in North Korea
The possibility of the United States launching a preemptive attack against North Korea’s nuclear missile program appears to have receded with Pyongyang’s recent peace overtures, but the two are connected. The conventional wisdom holds that such a strike, dubbed a “bloody nose,” is unthinkable. But that ignores the long history of U.S.-South Korean planning for war against North Korea, the extensive intelligence collected on the North’s conventional and nuclear forces, and the overwhelming U.S. military advantage.
How North Korea’s neighbors are quietly stepping up
The threat posed to international security by North Korea’s nuclear posturing will not be resolved in a flashy manner – neither by an American military strike at Pyongyang’s arsenal nor by Chinese economic pressure on its rogue ally. Instead, expect three Far East nations – China, Japan and South Korea – to quietly adopt a “managed crisis” approach, combining painstaking diplomacy with small-step measures to build stability.
Kim Watch: North Koreans have a new father
North Korea’s political philosophy makes the leader the “father” of the nation – and Kim Jong-un expects to be loved, obeyed and revered by North Koreans as if he were their biological father. Now, a new hit song is encouraging them to do just that.
The Friendship Bridge misnomer
China and North Korea have long ceased being true friends and allies. Beijing, just as Washington, is at a loss for how to stop the North Korean leader’s nuclear brinkmanship. The Chinese government wants the country to be seen abroad as a great new power, equal to the U.S. in dealing with the Korean Peninsula issue. But the reality is harsh. Over seven decades, the only policy tool that China has finessed to calm Pyongyang is paying money to the Kim family. In return, Pyongyang insults Beijing whenever its leader gets in a fit, and it embarrasses China abroad. No money means no talk.
Will the South Korean success story continue?
South Korea has proven that even through adversity and the constant threat of war, it can still develop and progress. That will continue to be the case if the precarious peace on the Korean Peninsula continues. But that is a big “if.” The country is dependent on China and the United States, especially, keeping their cool as the current crisis plays out. On the other hand, if a sustainable solution can be found for the tensions, South Korea will be the biggest winner.
2018 Global Outlook: Nuclear proliferation threat is exaggerated
The world’s existing nuclear powers are wary of proliferation, even if prospects for nuclear arms control appear to be dim. The United States, Russia, China and smaller states in possession of such arms are, at most, modernizing their arsenals. North Korea and possibly Iran cannot be prevented from developing nuclear warheads and delivery systems, but the emerging Western containment strategy is likely to work.
2018 Global Outlook: North Korea and the U.S.-China-Russia triangle
Tensions between the United States and North Korea are having a big impact on the relationship between Moscow, Beijing and Washington. China has every incentive, but few options, to rein in its neighbor, while pressure on the U.S. to escalate increases. Russia is playing a double game by which a conflict in Northeast Asia could help it attain its goals in Ukraine. Any major shock to today’s delicate balance could have drastic consequences.
Putin’s potential contribution to ending the U.S.-North Korea standoff
U.S. President Donald Trump will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin at the APEC summit this weekend. Although allegations of his campaign’s collaboration with Russia during last year’s election has made it hard for Mr. Trump to negotiate with the Kremlin, Mr. Putin’s assistance on the North Korea crisis could prove very useful. It would also be in Russia’s interest. The price the U.S. might have to pay in concessions could be high, but a solution where Washington and Russia cooperate to defuse the North Korea crisis is likely.
GIS Dossier: Shinzo Abe’s Japan
Shinzo Abe is not popular, but this consummate political insider has become just the second prime minister in Japan’s history to win three general elections. He managed this feat by skillfully juggling factions in the dominant Liberal Democratic Party, stirring life into Japan’s stagnant economy, and pledging vigorous leadership in the face of a nuclear-armed Korea. Can Mr. Abe turn around a country widely seen to be in irreversible decline?