Tag Archives: Walter Russell Mead

DOES SINGAPORE SUMMIT MEAN PEACE IN OUR TIME?

President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.   These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.   These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”  (Rev 17:12-14)

For these ten nations to come together, there must be a major upheaval that transforms the nations of the world and their alliances.   President Trump may be the catalyst.

It’s difficult to know at this point what the outcome of the Singapore summit will be.   North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump seemed to get along fine and there is hope of an end to almost 70 years of conflict on the Korean peninsula.

“President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hearkens back to an era of high-risk summits where the outcome was not preordained.”   (“In the past, summits often redrew maps, changed world,” Gregory Korte, USA Today, 6/13)

“ . . . To Trump’s credit, we are surely at a better place than we were a year ago when Kim was testing hydrogen bombs and ICBMs, and he and Trump were trading threats and insults in what seemed the prelude to a new Korean War.

“Whatever one may think of his diplomacy, Trump has, for now, lifted the specter of nuclear war from the Korean peninsula and begun a negotiating process that could lead to tolerable coexistence.”   (“Trump’s Bold Historic Gamble,” Pat Buchanan, 6/15)

For a more critical view, note this paragraph from The Economist:   “In foreign policy, perhaps more than anywhere else, President Donald Trump is doing exactly what he said he would do:   he has pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and the Iran deal, moved America’s embassy in Israel and imposed tariffs on imports.  His supporters, and many business folk, are thrilled.  But though his wrecking-ball approach may bring short-term wins for America, it will cause long-term damage to the world.”  (6/9)

WILL THERE BE PEACE?

In 1938, before the word “summit” was used to describe meetings of world leaders (it was first used by Sir Winston Churchill over ten years later), the two most powerful men in the world met in Munich.   British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Germany’s leader, Adolf Hitler, worked out a peace “deal” between them.   Mr. Chamberlain was able to return to England and proclaim  “Peace in our time.”   Less than a year later, the two nations were at war.  World War Il was to last six years.

80 years later, the Singapore summit has raised hopes of an end to the threat of nuclear war involving North Korea.   But whether this will mean peace remains to be seen.

“Here is where the crunch comes.   Kim is being told that he must give up the weapons whose very possession by him are the reason why the world powers are paying him heed.”   (PB)

Meanwhile, it is becoming clear that neither North Korea nor the United States are the biggest beneficiaries following the summit.  The nation that benefits the most is China, already the greatest power in the Far East.

A HUGE WIN FOR CHINA

“Kim Jong Un flew into Singapore on a Chinese plane for his summit with US President Donald Trump and left with a prized concession long sought by Beijing:   the suspension of US-South Korean war games.

Not only that, but Trump also teased the possibility of a complete withdrawal of American troops from the Korean Peninsula at some point in the near future.

“It’s a huge win for China,” Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at CSIS, told CNN.”   (CNN, 6/3)

SAVING MONEY

Mr. Trump clearly wants to reduce the number of US military personnel in South Korea, variously said to be 28,000-32,000.   At a press conference, he said the following:

“I want to get our soldiers out.   I want to bring our soldiers back home.   We have 32,000 soldiers in South Korea.   I would like to be able to bring them back home. . . .   We will stop the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money.”

As said on CNN, this statement is exactly what China wants.  Under pressure from Beijing, North Korea will likely take a more peaceful course.   The country will likely open up to some foreign investment, mostly from China, although there is little prospect of an end to authoritarian, communist rule.   China itself has not made any progress in that area.

It may take some time for the world to see clearly that this summit was a big step forward for China and Chinese power in the Asia-Pacific region.   Perhaps mindful of the decline of the European powers in the region following World War II, China is enabling the US to decline gracefully in what is increasingly a Chinese sphere of influence.   Even the summit venue, Singapore, is ethnically Chinese. A friend of mine in the city-state reports an increased sighting of Chinese ships around the strategically important island.

On the day of the summit, the Singapore Straits Times reported:

PARIS (AFP) – “France is increasing its military presence in the Indo-Pacific region, sending warships through the South China Sea and planning air exercises to help counter China’s military build-up in disputed waters.

“In late May, the French assault ship Dixmude and a frigate sailed through the disputed Spratly Islands and around a group of reefs that China has turned into islets, to push back against Beijing’s claim to own most of the resource-rich South China Sea.”

Around the globe, the talk was of peace; but the summit was largely about money, as is so often the case with global power struggles.

Although the US economy is doing well, the country is heavily in debt (more about that later), while China has mountains of cash. Inevitably, the latter is going to overtake the former, at least in Asia, unless things change fast.

EU & NATO  CONCERNS

“Donald Trump’s America-first diplomacy has shaken the foundations of many global institutions and alliances, but its most damaging effects so far have been on the trans-Atlantic relationship. The community of North American and European nations forming the nucleus of the alliance that won the Cold War for the West is closer to breaking up now than any time since the 1940s.”   (“Why Trump clashes with Europe,” by Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, 6/12).

The summit of the G7 nations, meeting in Quebec just a few days ago, ended in disarray when the US president refused to sign the joint communiqué and walked out of the conference.   The future of the organization remains in doubt.   The G7 was sometimes referred to last week as the G6+1; at other times the G4, as only the European countries seemed to be in agreement.

By throwing out the suggestion that all tariffs be abolished, Mr. Trump was undermining the very foundations of the European Union.

Early in July, the US president will be attending the NATO summit in Brussels.   It should become clearer then if he feels any support for the European democracies.   If he doesn’t, Europe will be on its own.

GERMANY’S VIEW

The German news magazine Der Spiegel commented on the “G7 fiasco,” saying “it’s time to isolate Donald Trump:”

“The G-7 summit once again made it clear that U.S. President Donald Trump is intent on treating America’s allies worse than its enemies. Europe must draw the consequences and seek to isolate Trump on the international stage.”

“Germany’s foreign minister called for the European Union to become a more self-confident global actor, prepared to take counter-measures when the United States crosses “red lines” and able to respond to Russian threats and Chinese growth.

“In a Berlin speech, Heiko Maas gave the clearest sign yet that Germany no longer sees its 70-year-old alliance with the United States as unconditional, and threw his weight behind French proposals to make the EU shipshape for a more uncertain world.

“We need a balanced partnership with the US,” he told youth activists in a converted railway station, “where we as Europeans act as a conscious counterweight when the US oversteps red lines.”

“In remarks that drew a line under the post-war German doctrine of close alignment with the United States, Maas listed President Donald Trump’s Washington as a challenge for Europe, alongside more traditional rivals like Russia and China.

“Donald Trump’s egotistical politics of ‘America First’, Russia’s attacks on international law and state sovereignty, the expansion of gigantic China:   the world order we were used to – it no longer exists,” he said.

“The speech is the latest in a flurry of declarations by leading German politicians digesting the implications of the disarray following Trump’s abrupt departure last week from the Quebec G7 summit, long a pillar of the US-led Western global order.

“Earlier this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, long known as among Germany’s most committed Atlanticists, effectively demoted the US relationship in a television interview by saying Germany’s second loyalty had to be the EU.

“The first loyalty goes to your own country,” she said.  “But the second should go to the EU.”   For Berlin’s elites, the EU and the transatlantic alliance were long regarded as equal pillars.”  (Euractiv with Reuters 6/14)

Once again, money has played a part in Mr. Trump’s anti-European rhetoric.   Although some European countries do spend more than the required 2% of their GNP on defense, some do not, including Germany.   Mr. Trump feels very strongly that this is wrong and needs to change.   The United States is deeply in debt.   In itself, this poses a grave threat to national security.   Other nations must devote more of their resources to defense.

Did both the Singapore and the Quebec summits have a lot to do with money?   Seemingly so.

ONE SUMMIT STILL TO GO

Here’s a final comment from a British conservative publication, linking all three summits (G7, Singapore and NATO):

“Donald Trump is feeling confident about world peace following his big summit in Singapore with Kim Jong Un.   But . . . western leaders are desperately worried.   Might the US President, inebriated on his own sense of destiny, be about to collapse Nato?   Theresa May is certainly worried:   she knows how hard the British government had to push Trump to officially endorse Nato.   But now, following the fallout over tariffs at last weekend’s G7 summit in Canada, Trump is not feeling well disposed towards the rest of the West.   Next month’s Nato Summit in Brussels will be a tense affair.”   (Spectator, UK, 6/14)

Seventy years after the formation of NATO, could the organization break up?   We will see next month.

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