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Behind The Scenes Shifts In American Foreign Policy Led To Summit Success

The meeting between American President Donald Trump and North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un was a tectonic plate level change in the national security and foreign policy landscape. But behind that landscape-changing meeting it appears there have been several other less noticeable, but extremely important, changes in how the United States approaches its adversaries.

First, was the Trump administration’s rejection of “linkage,” or linking major issues that threaten the security of the United States, such as North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, with issues that do not threaten our national Trump speaks after summitsecurity, such as North Korea’s domestic human rights abuses.

Ronald Reagan always linked issues such as human rights and religious liberty with major issues, such as trade and disarmament. Sometimes the linkage was up front and sometimes it was subtler, merely setting aside a few minutes to lobby Mikhail Gorbachev for the release of prisoners of conscience, but it was always there.

President Trump, up front, rejected any such linkage focusing like a laser (at least publicly) on the nuclear disarmament issue.

However, an important American goal, unrelated to North Korean disarmament, was apparently addressed; the fourth point in the agreement signed between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on June 12 stated, “The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.”

Both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama refused to discuss MIA/POW issues with the North Koreans, even though several thousand Americans remain listed as Missing in Action in Korea, the remains of thousands of those killed have never been recovered and hundreds of prisoners of war have never been accounted for satisfactorily.

The second change in U.S. policy wasn’t announced or signaled at the Singapore Summit and on the surface didn’t even have anything to do with North Korea, but it sent an important message just the same.

Our friend Michael Ledeen, writing for Frontpage Magazine, drew our attention to comments from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Speaking on Voice of America’s Radio Farda, our official Farsi-language channel to the Iranian people, Pompeo said the United States supported Iranians, wherever they were, who were fighting for greater freedom, so long as they did not advocate an end to the Islamic regime itself.

Pompeo told (Radio Farda) that, while he supports many Iranian opposition groups in the United States and Europe, he does not back calls for regime change in Tehran.

"We don't want them advocating for regime change, either…We want them working on behalf of the Iranian people, ordinary Iranian citizens who want nothing more than to live their lives, to be able to take their hijab off, to be able to go to work and raise their families and worship in the way they want to worship."

Since the Korean War it has been an article of faith in America that the North Korean regime was illegitimate and that the only acceptable outcome to the existing state of hostilities is regime change in North Korea.

However, the reality is that North Korea is not a previously friendly country that went off the rails into dictatorship like Cuba, Venezuela or Iran.

There’s never been a North Korean democracy, there is no nascent North Korean democratic movement ready to takeover if Kim Jong Un were to call elections tomorrow or be overthrown in a U.S. led decapitation strike; every person born in North Korea for the past 70 years has known only dictatorship by the Kim family and propaganda against the United States, South Korea, Japan and the rest of the democratic world.

If we’re not backing regime change in Iran, a formerly friendly country taken over by an anti-American, anti-Western oligarchy of religious fanatics, what does that tell Kim Jong Un about America’s interest in going to war for regime change in North Korea?

It is clear here that what this means is we implicitly accept the North Korean state’s existence, with all its terrors and abuses, so long as it does not have nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them against the American homeland.

As Mr. Ledeen observed in his article, “Totalitarian regimes’ actions stem from two closely linked main causes:  ideological doctrine, and the desire of the tyrant to remain in power.” If we’ve effectively removed the threat to Kim Jong Un by moving from a posture of regime change in North Korea to a posture of regime toleration, then we have removed one of the justifications for Kim’s nuclear and missile programs and other threatening actions.

The major problem with this is that in North Korea ideological doctrine and the desire of the tyrant to remain in power have become so intertwined as to appear to be inseparable. Nowhere is the tyrant’s claim of L'état, c'est moi (I am the state) more perfectly realized than in North Korea, and how much of the North Korean state, and Kim Jong Un’s status within it, are defined by the nuclear and missile programs remains unknowable at this time.

As President Trump said before the meeting, “It’s a process” and so far, the results of the Trump – Kim Summit have been encouraging enough to call the summit a success, however, it remains to be seen if the behind the scenes changes in U.S. policy noted above will ultimately result in the desired goal of a nuclear-free North Korea.


George Rasley is editor of Richard Viguerie's and is a veteran of over 300 political campaigns. A member of American MENSA, he served on the staff of Vice President Dan Quayle, as Director of Policy and Communication for Congressman Adam Putnam (FL-12) then Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, and as spokesman for Rep. Mac Thornberry now-Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

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North Korea Peace Talks

Talk is cheap for the dictator tyrant of NK. Actions have to follow words and Trump is very familiar with this fact. I am sure the little guy will be closely watched and if he waffles since Trump gave him some serious concessions there will be some serious consequences. But the little guy is not known for stable anything so we shall see. The world will be watching and if China interfers that too will be quite clear as well!