FILE – This combination of file photos shows U.S. envoy for North Korea policy Joseph Yun, in Seoul, South Korea on March 22, 2017, left; and senior North Korean diplomat Pak Song Il, in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Feb. 2, 2016, right. Beyond the bluster, the Trump administration has been quietly engaged in back channel diplomacy with North Korea for several months, The Associated Press has learned. The contacts are occurring regularly between Yun and Pak, according to U.S. officials and others briefed on the process. (AP Photo/Files)
These stories that rely heavily upon anonymous sources are always hard to evaluate. They don’t have a very good track record in terms of accuracy and because you don’t know the source you can’t evaluate a) their knowledge, b) what axe they may have to grind, or c) their very existence.
When the sources feed a popular theme in media conventional wisdom, there is additional reason to be suspicious. On the other hand, when the story concerns the State Department, nine times out of ten the story that seems to work most against America’s interests is the course of action State is actually pursuing.
This brings us to this NBC report on the state of diplomacy with North Korea:
Joseph Yun, a top American diplomat to North Korea, has been warning of the breakdown in meetings on Capitol Hill and seeking help to persuade the administration to prioritize diplomacy over the heated rhetoric that appears to be pushing the two nuclear powers closer toward conflict, sources familiar with the discussions told NBC News.
Yun’s diplomatic efforts are on their “last legs,” one U.S. official said, adding that Yun is frustrated by an inability to communicate the urgency of the diplomatic situation to the White House.
“It is not so much that North Korea is shutting down, it’s that the message from the U.S. government is, ‘surrender without a fight or surrender with a fight,’” a separate U.S. official told NBC News.
A Congressional aide who has spoken with Yun directly says the diplomat is searching for a “hail Mary” attempt to restart any sort of talks, including perhaps a high-level envoy or dispatching Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Yun, the deputy assistant secretary for Korea and Japan at the State Department, has told Congressional aides and government officials that the White House has “handicapped” diplomacy.
These are the facts.
Our official best guestimates say that in nine months North Korea will have a nuclear armed ICBM that can strike Washington, DC and New York City.
Before we reach the time when North Korea has more than one of these weapons we must decide if North Korea being able to hold American cities hostage is an acceptable thing.
North Korea says its nuclear program and ballistic missile program are off the table. Unless that pre-condition is removed, it is unclear why we would talk to them. Far from what the unnamed US official said, what North Korea is demanding is that we surrender to their demands and that they give up nothing.
Much bullsh** has been spread about the impact of Trump’s refusal to certify the Iran nuclear deal. That it shows we are unreliable. Don’t forget that North Korea is the party that deliberately violated the last nuclear negotiation, the “Agreed Framework.” Why would we trust them again?
As Winston Churchill said, “Jaw-jaw is better than war-war.” He’s right. War is messy. And, in the words of Clausewitz:
“Everything is very simple in war, but the simplest thing is difficult. These difficulties accumulate and produce a friction, which no man can imagine exactly who has not seen war.”
Still, as unattractive as war is, how attractive is it to have a North Korean dictator able to nuke a US city? And if war is necessary, is it better to have that war before or after North Korea has a tactically deployable nuclear weapon?
Mr. Yun, if this story is accurate, is a grotesquely disloyal ass who should be whipped from Foggy Bottom across the Memorial Bridge.
What makes the story so believable is that career State Department weenies really believe that they create foreign policy for the United States rather than execute foreign policy. His job is to impress upon the North Koreans the seriousness of the situation and to work with regional allies to ensure a united front against North Korea.
His job is not to try to play the White House off against the Congress, create dissension in the government and confusion abroad all for the sake of “talks” which have no common ground and no common purpose.