The long term view of North Korean nuclear program.

The Singapore summit was theatrical, unprecedented, and largely symbolic. Theatrical because the world witnessed a former reality TV star greet the world’s most reclusive leader. Unprecedented because it was the first time a sitting American president has meet a member from the Kim dynasty. And symbolic because the agreement was vaguer than those of the past.

It’s hard to imagine that if Hilary Clinton had produced a similar agreement that Trump wouldn’t have called it “fake nuclearization.”

What the historic meeting did produce was a de-escalation in tensions, which is a good thing. But no real breakthrough on the regimes nuclear weapons should be expected and it is not because of the threat posed by American hegemony. No, the writing is on the wall in Asia and while the United States will always be the worlds most powerful country, America’s days as the principal military power of Asia are numbered. It is, rather, China which worries North Korea.

The most overstated alliance is not NATO or the U.S.-Japan security alliance, but the Chinese-North Korean alliance. It is a cliché to argue that the road towards North Korean nuclearization is through Beijing. China does appear to have some leverage over North Korea. Almost 90 percent of North Korean trade is with China, and it is China who has used its veto to shield North Korea from international sanctions.

As well, North Korea is the only country China is technically obligated to defend in the event it is attacked.

Yet, this alliance is not a result of a shared ideology or some cultural affinity but from a Chinese desire to ensure regime stability at home. Like most of the middle powers of Asia, China’s rise is viewed skeptically by North Korea. While it is true that China may prefer a nuclear North Korea to a collapsed regime, its long-term aim for the peninsula is not clear. The uncertainty of China’s long term plans is exacerbated by the complicated history of the two countries. It was China, after all, that normalized relations with the United States at the expense of North Korea’s main benefactor, the USSR. It was also China that recognized South Korea as an independent state, despite North Korean claims that it was part of its own territory. And it is China that uses its trade leverage and UN veto in an attempt to manipulate DPRK politics.

It is not unreasonable to assume that Kim trusts China less than he does America. After all, Kim’s first set of policies were to purge his regime of Chinese influence. This included executing his uncle, Jang Song-Thaek, recalling North Korean business elites living in China, and assassinating his half brother who, until his death, was protected by Beijing.

An unintended consequence of hegemony (whether global or regional) is the incentive for rouge states to pursue nuclear weapons. China has designs to replace America as the hegemonic power of the region and part of their grand strategy includes geopolitics. Considering that the current leadership of China has made historic claims of ownership to the peninsula, it should be no surprise that North Korea bristles when China attempts to control its public policy. From an American perspective, this makes negotiations for the dismantling of the DPRK nuclear weapons complicated. Unless America can control Chinese foreign policy, it is not likely that DPRK will denuclearize regardless of Chinese policy.

Understanding North Korea’s nuclear program as a deterrent of China presents the United States with an ideal opportunity to quietly withdrawal from the issue of DPRK nuclear program. The United States spends a great deal of its resources in an attempt to denuclearize the peninsula, yet with little return. America does all of this despite China being the biggest beneficiary of a dismantled nuclear program. Furthermore, American policy is arguably counterproductive. It is American power that creates the Chinese-North Korean alliance. Once that power recedes, a new front will open between China and North Korea which is arguably in America interests to see happen. If American grand strategy is to ensure no regional hegemon emerges in Asia, the United States should quietly welcome a nuclear Korea as it would mostly serve as an obstacle to Chinese hegemon.

The paramount question of international relations today is how to handle China’s rise. The middle powers of Asia have all made it clear that they are wary of how a future China will behave, North Korea included. North Korea’s strategy for handling a future China will be to direct their nuclear weapons at Beijing, not Washington DC. The United States should therefore slowly disengage from the region and allow Pyongyang to be Beijing’s headache.

The left and open borders…

If you wanted to ensure the eventual triumph of immigration restrictionism in the United States, you couldn’t devise a surer path to that goal than getting the Democratic Party to explicitly embrace a policy of de facto open borders.

 

Unfortunately, this is precisely where the liberal reaction to President Trump’s viciously harsh immigration policies is headed.

Many interesting observations by Damon Linker can be read throughout the piece published in The Week.

Police apologise after viral picture shows victim being ‘dragged’ in cops’ presence.

A picture of the incident, wherein a mob lynched a Muslim man and injured another in Bajhera village of Pilakhua area in Hapur district on Monday evening, has triggered a fresh controversy.

 

The picture, which was widely circulated on social media, shows villagers dragging injured Kasim (who died later) in the presence of three cops.

This is from the worlds largest democracy. You can read more at the Hindustan Times.

Germany set to increase military spending by 80 percent.

Germany announced earlier this month that it will increase its defense spending to 1.5 percent of GDP by 2024, but will fail to meet its NATO spending obligation of 2 percent of GDP.

Of course, the devil is in the details. This increase could go to all sorts of insincere projects that are not intended to defend continental Europe but create domestic jobs.

And a lot can happen in German domestic politics before 2024.

Yet this is “a step in the right direction.”

The article can be read here.

Spanish immigration.

Between 2002 and 2014, Spain received an accumulated immigration inflow of 7.3 million and a net flow of 4.1 million, making it the second-largest recipient of immigrants in absolute terms among OECD countries, following the United States.

And yet no populism.

The rest can be read here.

India looks west….

To start with, India’s maritime strategic orientation is toward the rimlands of Eurasia, which is reflected in it giving greater strategic importance to the littoral areas in the greater Indo-Pacific region (such as the Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea, and South China Sea). Therefore, the region of the Pacific Islands in Oceania had long been neglected in India’s maritime strategic thinking.

 

However, this is about to change. India’s maritime disposition seems to envisage having command of the sea in the Indo-Pacific, apart from securing its interests in the coastal areas.

 

Geostrategically, the Pacific Islands are getting increased attention from India as it connects Australasia to the Latin American subcontinent. Further, the region will face increased maritime traffic once the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is finalized.

Here is another piece.

As China is contemplating a naval base in Vanuatu, India’s maritime presence in the Pacific Islands may be welcomed by countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Indonesia, and even France.

Most of the article is speculation, but it is expected considering the behavior of China post financial crisis.

The details of this expansion can be read at the Diplomat, here.

The perils of arming local forces

In 2014, the Islamic State captured weapons from Syrian rebels armed by the United States. In 2015, the Iranian-backed Iraqi militia Kataib Hezbollah acquired several M1 Abrams tanks sold to the Iraqi Security Forces by the U.S. This problem has spread as far as Afghanistan, where much of the Taliban’s armory comes from American equipment given to the Afghan military and police.

How do the transfers occur?

“The Taliban gets its hands on most of the equipment, particularly vehicles, through raids, but there are quite a few reports of the Afghan military selling weapons,” said Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and editor of The Long War Journal. “The insurgents use this equipment tactically — to impersonate Afghan and Western soldiers. Considering how often they’re deploying it, they must have figured out a way to maintain the vehicles and weapons too.”

The title of the article is “How the US Is Indirectly Arming the Taliban” and the rest can be read at the Diplomat, here.

Obstacles of unifying the Korean peninsula.

Once they are relocated they have to do everything themselves. It’s up to their ability to stand alone — that’s life in a democratic society. But in North Korea with their culture of a communist society, they’re used to their basic needs coming from the government. They’re not used to a competitive society.

 

We have programs that provide them with benefits and jobs and some educational programs. NGOs help take care of their family and children. But it’s like they dropped from heaven.

 

There is also discrimination — I have to acknowledge this. They have North Korean accents, so we know immediately that they are either from North Korea or from the Chinese border.

That is from Nikki Asian Review and the rest can be read here.

Keeping Chinese students honest.

Commonly deployed as well will be facial and fingerprint recognition systems, metal detectors that keep mobile phones and other electronic devices out of the exam room, detectors that can find wireless earphones, vehicles and drones that block signals around a school, and location monitoring that determines the whereabouts of test papers.

This is from SCMP and the rest can be read here.