The Deal

Donald Trump, Kim Jong UnThe Spectator speculates that The Donald a) might be in line for a Nobel Peace Prize over North Korea (never happen, look at the Committee), b) might be willing to follow Bannon’s advice and pull US troops out of South Korea in exchange for denuclearization.

I suspect “b” will be on the table if only because, after 60 years, it is sort of pointless to keep troops in South Korea. The South Koreans have a perfectly good army and really, seriously, advanced weapons. The US can pull out, save money and reassure the NORKs.

But my bet is that Trump, like the Sham Wow guy before him, will say, “Wait, there’s more.”

Trump sold condos for years and part of the condo sale was the “amenities” package. The pool, the gym, the roof top party room. In North Korea’s case the amenities package is investment, economic growth and trade. Getting rid of the sanctions pulls them up to a few points below zero. But, say, 5 billion from South Korea into factories and another 5 billion from China into infrastructure begins to look like a real deal.

For sixty years the whole American approach has been about a lot of stick and very little carrot. This has not worked.

Trump sitting in a room with Kim Jong Un is making a sale. “We’ll stop kicking you if you drop the nukes.” is an opening, but it is not a close. Dropping sanctions makes the pain go away, but it is not an enticement. Trump has done a lot of deals and part of deals is giving people more than they expect.

Something Trump knows.

Trump does not need this deal. He can rachet up the sanctions and, at any moment, vaporize North Korea. To say he has bargaining power is to entirely understate the case. But Trump would benefit from a real, enforceable, deal on the nukes. So would China, so would South Korea, so would Japan.

So, instead of playing “hardball” Trump has the luxury of closing the sale. Tossing in the Wolf Stove and the marble foyer. And he won’t even have to pay for it. In fact, by pulling the US troops, he is saving billions a year.

Should be fun to watch.

4 thoughts on “The Deal

  1. Cytotoxic says:

    “For sixty years the whole American approach has been about a lot of stick and very little carrot.”

    What an odd characterization. False, actually. Carter gave them tons of aid for promises on nukes that were not kept. They’ve gotten plenty of aid since.

  2. Jay Currie says:

    Aid and promises on nukes are not actually what I think Trump may do.

    Aid is all about “We’ll help keep you afloat. Fewer people will have to eat bark and grass.”

    What I am hoping Trump will do is present a vision of a better, richer, North Korea. That is not about aid. It is about actual economic growth. Business. Factories. Selling stuff people want to buy.

    North Korea is stuck inside a weird, Stalinist, time warp long after Russian and China and pretty much the entire Communist world, has moved on. The fire Trump wants to ignite is about NK getting its piece of the pie.

  3. Philip Jemielita says:

    Jay, does Bannon want to withdraw all US military from the Pacific or is it just Korea re a nuclear deal?

  4. Fred from BC says:

    I like this development. Even more than the prospect of peace on the Korean peninsula, I like thinking about the reaction of WaPo, CNN and all the other Trump-hating media if he manages to pull this off…the gnashing of teeth, the rending of garments, etc…;)

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