Steve Bannon Admits There is No Military Solution with North Korea; Wants Economic War with China

It is pretty amazing to me that someone from the White House would just call up a random reporter and be this open about their views, but as we have seen there is nothing conventional about Steve Bannon:

Steve Bannon

“We’re at economic war with China,” he added. “It’s in all their literature. They’re not shy about saying what they’re doing. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it’s gonna be them if we go down this path. On Korea, they’re just tapping us along. It’s just a sideshow.”

Bannon said he might consider a deal in which China got North Korea to freeze its nuclear buildup with verifiable inspections and the United States removed its troops from the peninsula, but such a deal seemed remote. Given that China is not likely to do much more on North Korea, and that the logic of mutually assured destruction was its own source of restraint, Bannon saw no reason not to proceed with tough trade sanctions against China.

Contrary to Trump’s threat of fire and fury, Bannon said: “There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.” Bannon went on to describe his battle inside the administration to take a harder line on China trade, and not to fall into a trap of wishful thinking in which complaints against China’s trade practices now had to take a backseat to the hope that China, as honest broker, would help restrain Kim.

“To me,” Bannon said, “the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, ten years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover.”  [The American Prospect via a reader tip]

You can read much more at the link, but in regards to threat to Seoul Mr. Bannon is correct that it continues to restrain US actions against North Korea.  The fact that Bannon is willing to consider a freeze deal with North Korea in exchange for the removal of US troops I find very interesting.  I think everyone pushing for the freeze deal are now going to push it even harder if they see an opening that the White House might accept it.

Bannon in the article also talks about trying to get more hawks into the administration that don’t want to play nice with China.  He feels there are too many people in the government that think playing nice on trade with China will encourage them to help us with North Korea.

As far economic war with China it seems to me that a lot of the economic problems are self inflicted with the exporting of manufacturing jobs to China.  I don’t know if someone can even live a modern life any more if they made a conscious decision to not buy anything made in China.

China Puts North Korea on Notice that They Will Not Assist North Korea If They Attack US Soil

This is very interesting that the Chinese government has apparently given the US the go ahead to attack North Korea in response to a strike against US soil, but not to the extent that it leads to regime change:

China won’t come to North Korea’s help if it launches missiles threatening U.S. soil and there is retaliation, a state-owned newspaper warned on Friday, but it would intervene if Washington strikes first.

The Global Times newspaper is not an official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, but in this case its editorial probably does reflect government policy and can be considered “semi-official,” experts said.  (…..)

“China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral,” it added. “If the U.S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.” [Stars & Stripes]

 

You can read more at the link.

US Secretary of State Backs President Trump’s Comments on North Korea During Guam Visit

Secretary of State Tillerson provides some context in regards to President Trump’s recent comments about North Korea:

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson played down President Donald Trump’s incendiary warning to North Korea on Wednesday, saying he was just trying to send a strong message in language its leader would understand.

Tillerson, speaking to reporters before landing in Guam, a U.S.-held Pacific island that Pyongyang threatened to strike, said he does not believe there is an imminent threat from North Korea.

“I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days,” he said.

 Trump on Tuesday warned North Korea it would face “fire and fury” if it threatens the United States, prompting the nuclear-armed nation to say it was considering firing missiles at Guam.

“I think what the president was just reaffirming is that the United States has the capability to fully defend itself from any attack, and our allies, and we will do so,” Tillerson said.

The international community had a “pretty good week” with respect to North Korea, he said, citing new U.N. sanctions and strong statements coming out of a meeting of world leaders in Asia.

“In response to that, North Korea’s rhetoric is just ratcheted up, louder and louder and more threatening,” Tillerson told reporters. “So I think the president, what the president is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong Un would understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language.”  [CNBC]

You can read more at the link, but the media is of course in full freak out mode not because of Kim Jong-un, but because of President Trump.  My guess is that President Trump in an unconventional way is trying to make it clear to Kim Jong-un to not miscalculate North Korea’s response to the recent UN sanctions that were passed.  Additionally I think the President may be sending a message to China to make sure North Korea does not miscalculate as well because it could lead to an outcome the Chinese leadership does not want to happen.

Remember that the Ulchi Focus Lens US-ROK military exercise is coming up later this month which is typically when a North Korean provocation cycle happens.  Whatever the North Koreans have planned this year they may have to be reassess based off of President Trump’s warning.

Picture of the Day: China Donates Ahn Jung-geun Statue to City of Uijongbu

China donates statue of Korean national hero

A project to set up the donated statue of Korean independence fighter Ahn Jung-geun is underway at a park in Euijeongbu, north of Seoul, on Aug. 8, 2017. The Charhar Institute, a Chinese civic think tank, donated the statue to the city to promote friendship between the two countries. The Korean national hero shot and killed Hirobumi Ito, the first Japanese governor-general of the Korean Peninsula, at a railway station in the Chinese city of Harbin in 1909. The statue depicts Ahn pulling out a gun to shoot the governor while running toward him. (Yonhap)

President Trump Tweets that He Is “Disappointed” that China Has Done “Nothing” with North Korea

I think President Trump is going to continue to be disappointed by China because nothing has changed that has made it in their interest to do anything about North Korea:

In a pair of tweets Saturday evening, President Trump said he is “disappointed” in China after North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.

“I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk,” Trump wrote, adding, “We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!”  [ABC News]

You can read more at the link.

China Increases Threats Against THAAD Deployment in South Korea While Coddling North Korea

It seems like people in South Korea may finally be seeing how two faced China is, it just took a change in the ROK Presidential administration to confirm it:

Residents of Seongju County, North Gyeongsang Province, protest President Moon Jae-in’s order to consult with the U.S. over the temporary deployment of four more launchers of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery to a golf course in the country where two launchers have already been installed, during a press conference in front of the Ministry of National Defense in Yongsan, Seoul, Monday. / Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

China is remaining low key over North Korea’s purported successful test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Friday, while criticizing South Korea for its decision to deploy additional U.S. anti-missile launchers to deter Pyongyang’s military threats.

This is part of China’s “two-faced” policy of embracing North Korea as a buffer zone against U.S. military power and bullying South Korea to bring discord to the Seoul-Washington alliance, analysts said Monday.

China apparently toned down its rhetoric, turning a deaf ear to the international community’s condemnation of Pyongyang’s missile launch late Friday night.

It only asked North Korea to “observe the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and suspend activities that can heighten tension on the Korean Peninsula.”  (……..)

On the contrary, Beijing has intensified its protest against the deployment of a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery in South Korea, after Seoul decided to install four additional launchers of the system temporarily in addition to the two that are in operation.

On Saturday, the Chinese foreign ministry expressed “grave concerns” over the Moon Jae-in administration’s decision to deploy the additional THAAD launchers.

Saying it “firmly opposes” THAAD, the ministry said the U.S. missile shield “seriously” damages the balance of power in the region while violating China’s national interest. It has urged both Seoul and Washington to suspend the THAAD deployment and withdraw related equipment.  (…..)

“China’s long-term goal is to weaken the U.S. influence in the Asia-Pacific region, and North Korea’s progress in ICBM technology serves its purpose,” said Yang Uk, a senior research fellow at the Korea Defense and Security Forum. “This is because Washington, jointly with Seoul and Tokyo, will have to spend extra time and money against Pyongyang’s ICBMs while Beijing can go ahead with its plan to flex its muscles in the region. It’s no wonder China did not criticize Pyongyang as harshly as it did Seoul.”

“Under these circumstances, I must say China is colluding with North Korea and is being negligent in its duty as a permanent member of the UNSC,” a researcher at the Sejong Institute said on condition of anonymity.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but you have to love the claim from China that THAAD harms their national interests.  North Korean ICBMs do much more to harm the ROK and the United States’ national interests which China clearly does not care about.

Chinese Ambassador Calls for Withdrawal of THAAD During Meeting on Jeju Island

The Chinese are continuing their efforts to create a wedge in the US-ROK alliance with their ridiculous THAAD claims:

Chinese Ambassador Qiu Guohong speaks during a forum held by the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry held on Jeju Island on July 22, 2017. (Yonhap)

China’s top envoy to South Korea called Saturday for a solution to quickly end a monthslong diplomatic row over the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system in South Korea.

Chinese Ambassador Qiu Guohong said the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system had a “serious impact” on the mutual trust between the two countries, calling it “the biggest hurdle” for the development of bilateral relations.

“Many South Koreans say Beijing is retaliating against Seoul. But exchange and cooperation between countries call for political common ground, and we need to quickly find ways to resolve the issue,” Qiu said in a business forum in South Korea’s southern resort island of Jeju.

China has imposed restrictions on South Korean imports and banned the sale of group tour packages to its neighbor in protest of the U.S. missile system in South Korea.

Seoul and Washington said the missile system is only meant to counter North Korea’s evolving nuclear and missile threats. But China has repeatedly pressed South Korea to withdraw the THAAD system out of concern that the deployment could hurt Beijing’s security interests.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Claims the US has Stabbed Them in the Back

I think this should end the pipe dream anyone may still be holding  that China would put real pressure on the Kim regime to end their nuclear and missile programs:

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said it was not his country that was threatening North Korea and the answer to the problems did not lie with Beijing.

Mr Geng said: “Recently, certain people, talking about the Korean peninsula nuclear issue, have been exaggerating and giving prominence to the so-called ‘China responsibility theory’.

“I think this either shows lack of a full, correct knowledge of the issue, or there are ulterior motives for it, trying to shift responsibility.”

The spokesman reiterated that China had been making a concerted effort to play a constructive role in the conflict.

He added: “Asking others to do work, but doing nothing themselves is not OK. Being stabbed in the back is really not OK.”  [Daily Express]

You can read more at the link.