Monday, June 19, 2017

Obama's Iran Continues On The Move. Pure As The Driven Snow But He Drifted? Democrat Insanity Over Scalise. N Korea and Evergreen!


Iran seeks to take advantage of Hamas humiliation in Gaza and encircle Israel.  (See 1 below.)
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Kushner and Greenblatt arriving in Israel this week to try and restart peace accord between Abbas and Israel.

This is one campaign promise Trump would be wise to allow to die.  No one would fault him.  (See 1a below.)
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Is this going to be the epitaph on Mueller's grave?  He was as pure as the driven snow, but he drifted. (See 2 below.)

Meanwhile, the Democrats go insane over Scalise's near death "work place" assassination attempt. (See 2a below.)
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Evergreen show how low higher education has fallen (See 3 below.)
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George Friedman tells us how to negotiate with N Korea.  (See 4 below.)
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Dick
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1)



As Gaza Crisis Deepens After Hamas Loses Main Sponsors, Look Who's Trying To Step In


Hamas in Gaza is in serious trouble and could be becoming Iran’s next proxy army as a result of a crisis in the relations with the Palestinian Authority and the new isolation of Qatar, which has been Hamas’ main sponsor over the past few years.
The crisis in the relations between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority dates back to 2007, when the Islamist terror organization violently took over Gaza, resulting in the split of the PA and three wars with Israel.
In recent years there have been numerous attempts for a reconciliation between the Palestinian rivals and the formation of a unity government. But they all stranded on Hamas’ refusal to cede power in Gaza and the PA’s fear that Hamas would eventually try to take over the Palestinian Authority.
However, since the Trump administration announced a new peace drive in the 70-year-old conflict between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel, the Fatah-dominated government in Ramallah is seeking to increase pressure on Hamas to hand over rule of the poverty stricken Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority.
This is done by withholding funds for the payment of salaries to the more than 70.000 PA employees in Gaza who saw their income shaved by more than a third in April, and by cutting the PA contribution to the electricity bills that have to be paid to the Israel Electricity Company, which is the main supplier of the electricity to Gaza after the local plant in the Strip was shut down because Hamas says it could not pay the tax on diesel fuel the PA had imposed.
The PA explicitly asked Israel not to continue delivery of the same amount of electricity (125 MW) after it became clear that the bills would no longer fully be paid by the PA (40 percent reduction).
Israel has a long history of unpaid electricity bills with the PA — also in Judea and Samaria — but there has never been an energy crisis like this one in Gaza.
On Monday, Israel ceded to the PA request and decided to reduce the delivery of electricity to Gaza, leaving the more than 2 million people residing in the Gaza Strip with less than three hours of energy supply per day.
As a result of the diminished electricity supplies, 100 million liters of untreated sewage are pumped into the Mediterranean Sea daily and entire hospital wings had to close their doors during blackouts, the pro-Palestinian NGO Gisha reported.
Hamas asked Egypt to make up for the loss of Israeli electricity supplies, but the three electricity lines from Egypt to the Gaza Strip provide only 27 MW.
On Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman addressed the electricity dispute between Hamas and the PA and said Hamas has the funds to pay the bills, but prefers to invest in the rebuilding of the terror infrastructure in Gaza.
Liberman said Hamas collects more than $100 million monthly in taxes from its constituents in the Gaza Strip, but instead of investing that money into the education and health system, the money goes to rockets and terror tunnels the terror organization builds under the Israeli border.
“We demand from Hamas to invest the money in the education system and the health system. Israeli is ready to build industrial areas, places of work and power plants in Gaza,” Liberman said, but he made that conditional on demilitarization of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Hamas’ threat that further cuts in the electricity supply to Gaza would lead to an “explosion,” and said Israel has no interest in an escalation of violence.
“It’s important to understand that the problem of electricity in Gaza stems from an internal dispute between Hamas and Fatah,” Netanyahu said earlier this week. But he emphasized that Israel is very concerned about the deterioration in the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip as a result of this dispute.
On Friday, reports indicated the PA has also stopped sending shipments of medical equipment to the Gaza Strip for more than three months.
According to the NGO Physicians for Human Rights in Israel, hospitals get only one-third of the essential medicines and didn’t receive 270 medical equipment items needed for operation rooms.
A spokesman for the PA Health Ministry denied the accusations, but the ministry’s website has stopped making announcements about the shipments since February 27.
The crisis in Gaza coincides with the pressure on Qatar —  Gaza’s most important sponsor since the 2014 summer war with Israel — to terminate its financial backing of Hamas.
The Qatari regime has reportedly begun expelling Hamas officials from the gas-rich emirate, but the impending exit of Qatar from the Gaza arena creates an opportunity for Iran and Hamas to re-establish ties that had been reduced due to Hamas’ opposition to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and its support for the Sunni Islamist opposition in the country.
After the election of Ishmael Haniyeh — a protégé of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei — as the new leader of Hamas at the end of May, the Iranians started to make overtures to Hamas.
Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, for example, congratulated Haniyah with his election and welcomed back Hamas partnership in the “resistance exis,” a reference to the terror groups and Islamist regimes that fight Israel.
So it came as no surprise that last Saturday, Hanniyeh announced he will lead a Hamas delegation that will visit Tehran soon.
Iran is keen on transforming Hamas into a new proxy after President Donal Trump branded the group a “terrorist organization” at the American Arab Islamic Summit in Riyadh last month, because that would almost complete the encircling of Israel by Islamist groups and regimes hell bent on the destruction of the Jewish state. It would also give Iran a foothold on Israel’s southern border.

1a) Kushner, Greenblatt to visit Israel this week in pursuit of a peace deal

Top White House aides Jared Kushner (US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and a shadow diplomat in the current administration) and Jason Greenblatt, a special representative for international negotiations, will both travel to Israel this week in pursuit of a peace deal, the White House confirmed Monday morning. Greenblatt is set to arrive on Monday and Kushner on Wednesday.
The two are expected to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in an effort to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Jason Greenblatt  Twitter
“Excited to be traveling back to Israel and the Pal. Territories to continue the discussion about the possibility of peace,” Greenblatt wrote on Twitter
The visit to Israel will be Kushner's second one in the past two months. In May, Kushner and his wife Ivanka joined Trump as the president paid an official visit to Israel on his maiden tour abroad. Kushner visited sites such as the Western Wall and Jerusalem's Holocaust Museum Yad Vashem along with Trump.
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2)

The Washington D.C. nomenklatura advanced forward last week with its slow-moving coup d’état against America’s constitutionally elected President.


But even after the federal bureaucracy’s further progress toward undoing the 2016 election, I confess to a faint hope that Special Counsel Robert Swan Mueller III -- supposed embodiment of upper class, non-partisan, lawyerly virtue -- might actually conduct a fair, focused and swift inquiry into the matter assigned him. 

In the end, though, the sensible old lawyer’s voice in my head whispers that this hope is more pipedream than prediction of events.   


Here’s the latest state of affairs, no doubt soon to be out of date:

After staffing up during the week preceding last with heavy Democrat contributing lawyers of dubious objectivity, last week Mr. Mueller appeared to abandon, or at least heavily downgrade, the alleged raison d’etre for his office -- investigating the Russia collusion fantasy. Now, per the Washington Post -- always eager to provide a stage for someone leaking ill about the President -- Mr. Mueller will focus on whether the President “obstructed justice” and on the business dealings of the President’s close advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

So already, almost before his army of lawyers has swung into battle, the Special Counsel’s inquiry has metastasized from its original focus -- sleuthing out whether President Trump or his campaign “colluded” with the Russian government during the election -- into entirely new subjects.

Keep in mind the language of Mr. Mueller’s assignment, as articulated on May 17 by Rod Rosenstein: To investigate:

“any links and/or coordination between Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump, and any matters that arose or may arise directly from that investigation.”
The new subjects of Mueller’s inquiry are not only remote from that recent but apparently forgotten assignment, but they begin to sketch the outline of a lawyer who is stocking up on matters of inquiry for a long-haul investigation.

In sum, as each week passed following Mr. Mueller’s May 17 appointment, the man has behaved less like an independent counsel and more like the designated agent for America’s Trump-despising Washington-New York would-be rulers -- like someone who knows he is charged with providing a colorable legal predicate for a long-ago decision by America’s elites to destroy the President and prevent him from serving out the term he was accorded by America’s electorate and Constitution.

As of, today, Monday June 19, 2017, here is where matters stand for the President of the United States:
Though constitutionally and decisively elected to office, President Trump must carry out his duties -- that include sole responsibility for protecting the American homeland in a world where North Korea fires missiles every month and Islamic fanatics commit atrocities on a near daily basis -- while a former FBI Director, unrestrained by budget, personnel, duration of authority, or substantive area of inquiry, deliberately harasses, hounds, and distracts him and his appointed officials while attempting to find something -- after last week, apparently anything -- that could be twisted into a warrant for the President’s impeachment and removal from office.

Mr. Mueller could at least partially rebut the growing belief that he is the agent of those who despise the President, his agenda, and his supporters, by making a clear public statement that reaffirms his commitment to the inquiry he was assigned, and to its speedy completion.  But without such a prompt reaffirmation -- directly from Mr. Mueller -- the belief will harden and become widespread among those who elected President Trump that Mr. Mueller is nothing but the Washington-New York corridor’s designated legal hit man. Were that to occur, the Special Counsel’s findings and recommendations would have no legitimacy; and were Congress to act adverse to the President on them, doing so would plunge the nation into chaos.

How did the American Republic come to this ridiculously self-destructive pass?

In brief summary:

Desperate to deflect blame for his failed efforts after the 2016 election, Clinton campaign Chair John Podesta, risibly and with neither specificity nor evidence, accused President-elect Trump of “colluding” with the Russian government to bring about Trump’s election.  

From the time of Podesta’s tirade right up through today not a shred of evidence has emerged to support the claim of Russian collusion. This gaping void is all the more damning for the “Russia collusion” fantasists, given that Congress has investigated the claim for at least six months and the FBI for over nine months.

Given the ubiquitous atmosphere of anti-Trump leaking in Washington, if any such evidence had been discovered, by Congress or by the FBI, it’s a certainty that by now it would have been leaked and be widely known  

A side question: How many FBI agents spent how much time over the last nine months on this groundless smear, and how many potential Islamic terrorists could those agents have identified and neutralized if they had devoted their energies and skills to that rather more pressing concern? Just wondering.

So, in the total evidentiary vacuum for the “Russia collusion” allegation, how did America move from John Podesta’s non-specific and unsupported claim of such collusion, to Robert Mueller’s appointment to investigate that claim?

Enter, stage left, America’s corporate media.

On a daily basis since the election, the New York Times and Washington Post, followed in lock step by all the corporate television news networks, have breathlessly written and talked about Trump’s “alleged Russia collusion,” on page one or on the nightly “news” --and without any specificity as to what allegedly was done, who the alleged “allegers “are, or evidence to support the charge.

Our corporate media’s performance was an amazing feat of “Journalism,” keeping the “Russia collusion allegation” on page one, and on the nightly news, every day without letup, all the months since the election -- always unsourced as to who was alleging, unspecified as to the conduct alleged, and, of course, without identifying a shred of proof.

But that kind of news story is not evidence, a bright little child might observe.

“Maybe not to you kid, but it was good enough for Rod Rosenstein.”

Because repeated “news” stories in the corporate media about allegations by unnamed persons  … about unspecified conduct … for which there was no evidence, were all Rosenstein had to justify appointing a Special Counsel.

Special Counsel Mueller should not have been appointed at all

Even in a country whose legal system has been as debased by politics as ours, it’s simple prosecutorial ethics that a massive and in itself damaging investigation into an allegation should be turned loose only when the charges are specific and after at least some evidentiary cause to believe they are true has been adduced.

Both specificity and evidence were completely absent at the time of the Rosenstein appointment.

Now that Mr. Mueller has been improvidently appointed, he has a slender chance to save his own reputation for professional integrity, and the nation from further political disintegration -- by sticking to his assignment and rapidly and fairly concluding his work

We will soon learn whether he has any interest in such an approach to his duties.

Jared Peterson is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and has been a practicing attorney in California for over forty years.


2a)

From Nancy Pelosi to George Takei, the Left’s Reaction to Scalise Shooting Has Been Insane

By Stephen Miller

For a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it minute last week, after another politically active progressive leftist opened fire on Republican Members of Congress, resulting in Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise fighting for his life, there were questions about political unity. Would this be a watershed moment in a climate of escalating political rhetoric ? Would this be the moment where Hollywood would ramp down its sudden rekindled love for assassination porn? Would Democrats be able to somehow stumble into a party message beyond “GOP are killing people” (Once again echoed by Stephen Colbert in his opening monologue two days after the shooting)
The answer has unfortunately been a resounding no, from the professional celebrity and political left. Leading the charge right out of the gate was the Washington Post declaring that “both sides are guilty” and the New York Times, once again linking Sarah Palin with Jared Lee Loughner’s attack on Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords in 2011. This is a long-ago debunked but nonetheless still whispered about false equivalence on the left, and a possibly libelous one (Palin has announced her intention to look into legal action against the Times).
Less than 24 hours after Scalise was declared by Medstar surgeons to be in critical, life threatening condition, Nancy Pelosi used her press conference to go full “They started it.” When Pelosi was asked by a reporter if she believed the coarsening political dialogue was afflicting both sides of the political aisle, Pelosi said no.
“It didn’t use to be this way. Somewhere in the 90s, Republicans decided on a politics of personal destruction as they went after the Clintons, and that is the provenance of it, and that is what has continued,” Pelosi said. Pelosi came to congress 29 years ago, so maybe she just wasn’t paying attention to her party’s treatment of Robert Bork one whole year prior but that somehow doesn’t explain her amnesia of her party’s treatment of Clarence Thomas two years later. Speak to your loved ones about Alzheimer’s.
The sentiment from the top of the party trickled down among the mainstream of progressive journalism, or at least what passes for it when Fusion published a piece regarding hero officer Crystal Griner’s sexuality. Griner, who has served as a member of Scalise’s Capitol security detail for years, according to the family, is an African American (as is David Bailey, the other officer wounded in the attack), as well as a lesbian. The Jr. hipster intern at Fusion who was assigned the hit piece wrote as follows:
Scalise has also been described as one of the most anti-LGBTQ politicians in Washington. He’s voted against LBGTQ rights over and over again. He also authored Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage. Like many of his ilk, he said he was only trying to protect “traditional” marriage.
So it is a point of especially delicious irony that Scalise, who survived the attack (and is reportedly in critical condition), may owe his life to a queer black woman.
This narrative was then picked up by the fringe left’s favorite unemployed actor, George Takei, who went on to tweet, “The officer who saved bigoted, homophobic Rep. Steve Scalise during baseball practice was a black lesbian.” Takei ended up teleporting the tweets to some unknown part of the universe later that day, but not before it was also picked up by Joy Reid on MSNBC, who used Scalise’s inability to respond, to attack him as well in a tweet from her official show’s twitter feed
The point apparently lost on Fusion, Takei and Reid is that Scalise is such a bigoted homophobe that he entrusted his life and security for years to a homosexual black woman, and a black man. Indeed, Scalise’s trust paid off as they both stepped into the line of fire to not only save his life, but the lives of several other GOP congressmen practicing that day, from the actions of a man who was a proud supporter and believer in the same progressive ideals as Reid and Takei.
Reid not only used Griner’s sexuality as a political weapon against a man in a medically induced coma, she also included Scalise’s vote on the Republican health bill, American Health Care Act.
The Sunday morning news shows barely addressed the political fallout of the shooting. Bernie Sanders appeared on Jake Tapper’s show and was pressed about political rhetoric coming from Sanders and his campaign, but Sanders was not made to account for fundraising off of the Giffords shooting in 2011 and blaming “right wing reactionaries” just as Sanders has not been made to account for a fanatical supporter of his stabbing two people on a train in Portland last month. Sanders is not responsible for these incidents, but he’s also not talking about bake sales when he stands at a podium and declares the need for a political revolution in America that requries “Push back by citizens” against Republicans.
Rounding out a banner week for media and the left, Scott Pelley wondered aloud if Scalise was responsible for his own shooting.
It’s time to ask whether the attack on the United States Congress, yesterday, was foreseeable, predictable and, to some degree, self-inflicted. Too many leaders, and political commentators, who set an example for us to follow, have led us into an abyss of violent rhetoric which, it should be no surprise, has led to violence.
Pelley went on to use the occasion to showcase the real heroes in all of this; the media of course, highlighting a Donald Trump tweet calling media the enemy of the American People. 
Later, at a lunch for reporters, President Trump was asked whether he worried that language would incite violence. His pause indicated it had never crossed his mind. Then he said, “No, that doesn’t worry me.” Pelley declared.
It’s clear that the left has no intention of ramping things down, when they are flanked by those in the media willing to turn a blind eye to a rash of institutionalized and romanticized violence coming from their celebrity base and media outlets. As Scalise still fights for his life, the question to ponder is when will it go even further.
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3)

Evergreen shows how low higher ed has fallen



The trial evidence was stark and brutal. In the early-morning hours of Dec. 9, 1981, Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner conducted a traffic stop at the intersection of 13th and Locust Streets. A scuffle ensued with the driver, one William Cook.
After subduing the driver, Faulkner began to search him for weapons. It was then that Cook’s brother, Wesley, approached from behind and shot Faulkner in the back. As Faulkner fell, he managed to shoot — but not incapacitate — Wesley. Then, as the grievously wounded officer lay helpless on the cold pavement, Wesley Cook, also known as Mumia Abu-Jamal, executed him with a close-range shot to the head.
Daniel Faulkner was 25 years old.
To a multiracial jury of Philadelphians, this evidence proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Abu-Jamal was a cold-blooded murderer deserving of the death penalty. But, in the fever swamps of the progressive world, this former Black Panther was deemed to be a heroic political prisoner who had been framed by racist prosecutors because, as a journalist, he had purportedly criticized the police.
Over time, liberal academia took up his cause. In 1991, Abu-Jamal published an essay on the death penalty in the Yale Law Journal. He was the keynote speaker, in absentia, at Antioch College’s 2000 graduation and in 2014 at Goddard College. In 2007, the New College of California School of Law presented him with an honorary degree.
Similarly, in 1999, he was the graduation speaker — albeit by an audio recording sent from death row — at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. As best as I can determine, that was the first time that ESC achieved national notoriety. But it wouldn’t be the last.In April, minority students and faculty at ESC proclaimed a “Day of Absence” on which all white people were to be excluded from campus. Why the ban? Because of President Trump, of course.
In April, minority students and faculty at ESC proclaimed a “Day of Absence” on which all white people were to be excluded from campus. Why the ban? Because of President Trump, of course.
According to ESC’s student paper, due to the upsetting results of the 2016 election, students of color no longer felt comfortable on campus. Banning all whites for the day would afford these fragile souls an opportunity to reassert their right to belong on campus.
Bret Weinstein, an ESC biology professor, published a thoughtful and carefully worded email respectfully objecting to the proposed ban. He quite reasonably observed that the exclusion of white people from campus solely because of their color would be a racist act. He concluded by writing, “You may assume that I will be on campus on the Day of Absence.”
The result? Angry students occupied and barricaded ESC’s library and held the school’s administrators hostage. And they demanded Weinstein’s resignation.
For good measure, as depicted in an online video, Weinstein was surrounded outside his classroom by shouting and cursing students who refused to let him speak. As he attempted to reason with the howling mob, one sneering student was cheered as he yelled, “We don’t care what terms you want to speak on. …We are not on speaking terms — on terms of white privilege. You have lost that one.”
On the appointed day, Weinstein had to hold class off campus because of the threats of violence.
In response to queries by the news media, Weinstein calmly asserted that “on a college campus, one’s right to speak — or to be — should never be based on skin color.”
This seemingly unremarkable position resulted in more than 50 ESC professors — almost one-quarter of the faculty — issuing a statement demanding “a disciplinary investigation against” Weinstein, who, they claimed, had “endangered faculty, staff, and students, making them targets of white supremacist backlash by promulgating misinformation in public emails, on national television, in news outlets, and on social media.” In short, for daring to respectfully dissent from the prevailing campus orthodoxy, Weinstein must be punished. His professional future remains in doubt.
OK, so ESC is a mess. Why, you may ask, should we care what happens at this academic loony bin? Because ESC is not an isolated case. It is an extreme, but nevertheless materially representative, example of the prevailing thinking and practices at too many institutions of higher learning across the country.
For example, in March, Vermont’s Middlebury College invited conservative social scientist Charles Murray to speak. Professor Allison Stanger, a Democrat, served as the faculty facilitator for the event. But, instead of an intellectual exchange of ideas, chanting protesters took over the lecture hall. When Murray and Stanger retreated to another room to conduct the discussion by means of a live video feed, protesters banged on the windows and pulled fire alarms. When Murray and Stanger exited, they were surrounded by the mob. Stanger was grabbed, shoved, assaulted, and wound up in the hospital. She later wrote that she feared for her life.
There have been other equally disturbing examples of on-campus goon tactics aimed at preventing the discussion of dissenting or unpopular views. In the name of diversity, inclusiveness, safe spaces, and political correctness, self-righteous and self-regarding social-justice warriors are endeavoring to eradicate free speech and suppress any point of view with which they disagree. In too many instances, with the cowed acquiescence of invertebrate school administrators, they are accomplishing their goals by use of force, threats of violence, and intimidation.
Some claim to be fighting against “hate,” but their elastic definition of that term appears to include any idea that makes them feel ill at ease or “unsafe.”
Ironically and alarmingly, a concomitant result of this political correctness has been the revitalization of racial segregation. ESC’s Day of Absence is only one manifestation of this neosegregation. Harvard, Brown, and other schools have conducted separate black graduation ceremonies. Other schools maintain separate dormitories for minority students. For what reason and to what end?
In his 1963 speech at the March on Washington, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a champion of nonviolence, famously intoned, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Well, that was then. A peaceful, colorblind society? Not if liberal academia’s political and racial grievance industry has anything to say about it. The academics may pay lip service to King, but, if you take the time to parse their convoluted rhetoric, you will realize that cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and his angry, violence-prone ilk are today’s big men on campus.
George Parry is a former state and federal prosecutor practicing law in Philadelphia. lgparry@dpt-law.com
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4)

Negotiating With North Korea

There are signs that the North Korean crisis is easing. These signs are, in my opinion, part of the negotiating process that has been underway in recent weeks. This process has two purposes. The first is to reach a settlement. If one is not reached, the second purpose is to allow the United States to justify an attack by being able to demonstrate that it has left no stone unturned in a search for an alternative to war. And in fact, the United States doesn’t want war. A war with North Korea, like all wars, would be risky. It would put the South Korean city of Seoul in danger of severe casualties if North Korea retaliated with its artillery, and it would open the door to significant American casualties as well.
A negotiation such as this is a complex process in which each side must convince the other that it is prepared for war but interested in a settlement, while not appearing too eager for one. Each side will make threatening gestures and conciliatory gestures at different points in the talks. Just like in a negotiation to buy a home, both sides must be genuinely prepared to walk away from the deal, creating the illusion that making a deal is not essential.
A negotiation is about taking advantage and control of the other side’s fear and greed. Indeed, there are times when a show of weakness is the key to getting the other side to walk into a trap. But the most important thing to keep in mind is that you are not merely managing the other side’s perception of reality; you must also be ruthlessly controlling your own behavior to project the image and message you want to project.
Negotiating Between Nations
That self-management is based on knowing precisely what you want the outcome to be. Sometimes this is used to shape the negotiation, and sometimes it is kept hidden to focus the negotiation on other, more trivial topics to keep the price you must pay for your desired outcome as low as possible.
All of this becomes enormously complicated in negotiations between nations because the mood of the nation must also be managed. Particularly with democracies, negotiations can be frustrated by political eruptions that can be misread as weakness in your position. This leads not only to lack of confidence during the negotiations, which is deadly, but in democracies it leads to negotiators losing control over their positions.
American diplomatic negotiators can best be seen as brokers, caught between the American people and the adversary nation-state. There are two strategies for managing this problem. The first is to conduct negotiations in secret, which comes with a number of problems. If the secret leaks, it could cause a public uproar. The adversary will know that you are afraid of the public reaction and will either use that as leverage or shy away from making a deal, concerned that you can’t actually deliver. And if a deal is reached and then announced, the public will realize that negotiations were taking place in secret and its response will be, at best, unpredictable. You can try to keep the deal a secret, but on a significant issue, this can blow up in the negotiator’s face.
The second and better strategy is to make the issue appear less critical than it actually is. If the public can be persuaded to maintain a level of indifference despite the seriousness of the subject, the negotiations have a much higher chance of success. The adversary can’t manipulate public opinion and use the potential for public anger against you because the public is not engaged. The adversary, therefore, is forced to deal with the negotiators, who are free to conduct the talks with confidence.
This appears to be the U.S. negotiating strategy, and thus far, it is working. The public knows of the issue and of U.S. readiness for a possible war, yet the public has a relatively relaxed attitude considering the gravity of the issue. And it helps that Washington is preoccupied with the investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election. It doesn’t seem that there’s any space for another crisis.
The Heart of the Issue
At the heart of the negotiations is the issue of North Korean nuclear weapons. North Korea wants to retain its nuclear program to deter threats to its regime. The United States feels it cannot be certain that the current regime or future regimes will not use a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile against the United States. Both sides have fundamental interests they can’t compromise on, and that makes negotiations difficult, no matter how skilled the negotiators. Herein lies the paradox of negotiations. North Korea has shaped its behavior in such a way that the country appears unpredictable. But unpredictability creates uncertainty, and that has frozen North Korea’s adversaries into extreme caution. Pyongyang’s negotiating stance has made it impossible for the U.S. to assume North Korea will act rationally.
Both sides are making gestures. The U.S. has asked the Chinese to intervene, to uncertain effect. The U.S. has withdrawn one carrier strike group from the Korean Peninsula, part of a normal rotation – although it has also reportedly sent another, its exact location still to be confirmed. The North Koreans have released an American student who was arrested for stealing a banner. He was returned with a severe brain injury and an unconvincing North Korean explanation. The North Korean claim was that this was a humanitarian gesture. But it has left the perception that he was grossly mistreated in North Korea and increased public loathing of the regime. Perhaps the North Koreans miscalculated. Or perhaps they were actually sending a message on how ruthless they can be.
The core issue remains North Korea’s ability to strike the United States, and one side must give in to avoid war. Either North Korea must abandon nuclear deterrence, or the United States must accept that the fate of U.S. cities rests with North Korea. In the end, the most important question facing both countries is not a diplomatic one but a military one: Which side can achieve its ends in a war? Secretary of Defense James Mattis has signaled both that war would be catastrophic and that the U.S. will not accept North Korea’s acquisition of deliverable nuclear weapons that can reach the United States. And it will not wait for North Korea to acquire them in order to strike. Nothing in the negotiations seems to have solved the problem, and without capitulation on the core issue by one side or the other, it appears insoluble.
Therefore, we still believe that North Korea and the U.S. are on the road to military conflict in the near future. War became a possibility after mid-June. The negotiations will continue, since there is little to lose. But U.S. forces can’t remain on alert in perpetuity, and the longer the U.S. waits, the greater the possibility of an intelligence miscalculation that allows North Korea to acquire the capability to strike the United States. Negotiation shapes the perceptions of all sides, but perception is not reality, and successful politicians understand that well. The reality continues to point toward action, and the action continues to look bloody.
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