Beyond the Cusp

June 14, 2018

Exactly Spell-out What the Agreement Says and Means

 

The first thing we need establish is the exact wording of the signed agreement. In that effort, below is what the two leaders signed.

Convinced that the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:
1. The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

In many ways, one could look at this short and concise statement the two leaders signed, but that would be missing the main accomplishment, the two leaders met face-to-face, spoke with one another, nobody got hurt, and they singed a mutual declaration. This, in and of itself, was a great accomplishment as by meeting they were able to dispel many of the many misgivings, biases, superstitions, and other concepts which forced the two nations apart and prevented any real establishment of a new relationship. This was a first step to go beyond the old paradigm of demanding bribes for false promises. This meeting allowed for each leader to gauge the other and get a feel for whether they should be trusted or spurned. The big question going forward will be whether the two leaders make any further headway or decide to just allow everything to settle until all hope of a breakthrough dies. Then, should they decide to trust and move forward, then comes the question of in what way will anything produced in another round be different than previous agreements reached with the North Koreans.

 

President Trump Denotes Where King Jong-un Should Seat Himself

President Trump Denotes Where King Jong-un Should Seat Himself

 

To understand that, it helps to understand what the previous negotiations produced. That is not exactly a pretty story. In every former negotiation with North Korea, the United States came out holding the short end of the stick. Each one followed the same exact routine, a routine that only a politician could call successful. The leader of North Korea threatened some form of mayhem and turmoil and the United States President begged to know what would prevent their actually carrying out their threatened move. The North Koreans named their price, there was a brief period of hemming and hawing, and then the United States paid the named bribe and even a little more just to make sure. The bribe demanded was usually in some form of food relief, guaranteed energy provisions plus a boatload of cash. As we stated, it was a sorry affair. Usually within a year of paying the protection price, the North Koreans would proceed to resume their nuclear and missile tests breaking their side of the agreement. Breaking the agreement was a necessity otherwise; they would not have had the ability to start their next round of threats.

 

So, already the United States is an improved position as this time the threats got the cold shoulder and until Kim Jong-un had approached more apologetically. The initial temper tantrum received only the slightest attention approaching to seek what would be the price for resumed quiet. Instead, President Trump one-upped Kim Jong-un by threatening him right back. This was seen as foolish and tempting fate by most observers from all the usual places. They chimed in with the uncalled for advice, that swatting a beehive with a bat was not only dangerous but foolhardy. President Trump responded that the beehive was actually a pouty child and should be brought to civil behavior by punishing such behavior, not rewarding it. The champions of the status-quo cautioned that playing this game of tit-for-tat would only lead to a ruinous war and that the United States and the world would only be sorry and suffer great losses. President Trump simply ignored their advice and that this time things were going to be different when after Kim Jong-un threatened to use a nuclear device on Guam or maybe Hawaii and President Trump Tweeted, “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” This sent the normal into such a tizzy with some of the snowflakes melting and the wilting flowers running for cover all making Chicken Little seem absolutely brave and highly intelligent. The talking heads were claiming there would be glowing melting remains in cities everywhere. The reality was Kim Jong-un realized he had his bluff called and called in spades. Kim Jong-un broke first and came to President Trump pleading for a way out of the predicament into which he had gotten himself. President Trump was kind and did not make any huge deal of Kim Jong-un flinching and simply set up a meeting which Kim Jong-un could have had by the asking before all the inanities of who could threaten the most between Kim and Trump. That letting him off without rubbing his face in his loss, by not disgracing him, President Trump may have set himself up for Kim Jong-un returning to threats by breaking his word to President Trump and threatening one last time. Trump responded with the least amount of effort by simply cancelling their meeting. That was President Trump reminding Kim that it was Kim who needed to meet, not Trump and Trump still had a larger button on his desk that worked, all without having to repeat it.

 

President Trump’s Nuclear Threat Tweet

President Trump’s Nuclear Threat Tweet

 

Well, Kim backed down again and they have now had their meeting. There will be those who claim that the agreement does not say anything which might be considered thunderously calling in a new age. Well, they met, they signed before the cameras, and they left promising to meet again and President Trump was obviously the one controlling the situation while Kim was playing a quiet supporting role. That is far more thunderous than the begging to be allowed to feed the beast which had been the former response to North Korea and to such a point that Kim Jong-un was led to believe that all he need do was make threats and the Americans would shower him with aid meeting anything he demanded. Well, he found out that there is a new sheriff in Washington D.C. who doesn’t flinch as easily as Kim had been advised. The first sign that Kim Jong-un and the North Korean military advisors, who initially misled him, have been tamed will come should issue four be satisfied in a full and timely manner. That specified its requirements stating, “The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.” This would result in the immediate repatriation of those POW/MIA soldiers from the Korean War being returned by North Korea and doing so with a fair amount of alacrity. Should North Korea start making excuses and dragging their feet, then President Trump will know that they are back up to their old tricks and trying to play him for the fool. That will prove to not having been wise and they should have figured that out already, but some people learn really slowly.

 

The big test will be for North Korea denuclearizing immediately by disassembling their nuclear weapons laboratories and taking their Nyongbyon reactor off-line and shutting it down permanently. North Korea’s Nyongbyon reactor was taken off-line at its main nuclear complex in 2007 as part a disarmament-for-aid deal, but, surprise-surprise, that accord simply fell apart which was validated by satellite imagery indicating the North Koreans had resumed extracting plutonium. This will also be something which can be verified by satellite imagery and will be a definitive sign of compliance or of total disregard of the consequences of breaking their word with a President from the business world where your word is your bond. President Trump would not react kindly to such an affront. What should get President Trump put up for a Nobel Peace Prize would be an actual signing of a peace agreement between North Korea and the allied United Nations powers from that conflict. Of course, even considering President Trump for the award would be enough to raise the average blood pressure of all too many other national leaders and anti-Trump masses the world over that it would result in the total collapse of many a European health system and test those in the United States. Still, should he bring North Korea to comply and also end the conflict allowing the United States to cut their military presence, cut, not eliminate, in South Korea leaving a presence to man some of the positions along the DMZ so as to assure that North Korea keeps that peace. One can only pray that President Trump has successfully tamed the North Korean dragon and put a decent scare into the Chinese dragon making the world that much safer. Now we simply have to ponder, what next.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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May 27, 2018

Story Why Trump Cancelled Korea Summit

 

The story we hear from most news organizations is that President Trump is thinking like a small time real estate broker where walking away from a deal is part of the negotiation tactic. They claim he is trying to look big and tough and out man Kim Jong-un and in the process is becoming even more of a clown. They claim he has now brought the Korean Peninsula and the world to the brink of Armageddon. The accusations don’t stop there. He has been said to be acting like a schoolyard bully throwing a tantrum just to get more attention. What has been amusing about this last accusation, and to some extent most of the others, is that it more accurately describes the actions of Kim Jong-un and the entirety of the North Korean power structure including, or maybe especially, the military.

 

Let us put this as plainly as we know how, or at least try. Let’s pretend we are the President of the United States. We have appeared to have pressured the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un into agreeing to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and to end any ballistic missile tests and nuclear tests. The North Korean strongman also has agreed to forgo the normal protestations of upcoming already known and planned joint South Korean-American military maneuvers. There has been a date set to meet in Singapore. Then when administration personnel sent to Singapore to work out the logistics of the summit attempt to contact North Korea to engage them in the planning and set up formalities, the North Koreans completely shut them out refusing to allow any communications. An administration senior official connected to the planned talks said, “The summit was halted because we couldn’t get them (North Korea) to pick up the phone. There was radio silence.” In other words, it was impossible to even set up the seating or achieve any of the necessities when the other side is refusing to even confirm who will be attending from their side, when anyone will be arriving, or even if they actually expect there to be talks. The North Korean actions were an initial signal that they were backing out of the talks.

 

This was accompanied during the same time-frame by two broken promises, two breaches of their former agreements. The North Koreans issued a major objection to legal military exercises between the South Koreans and Americans which they had stated they would accept without protest. Then they refused to denuclearize in a complete manner or to permit their denuclearization to be verifiable in any way. They basically were hedging away from everything they had stated in order to have the meeting such that they were now to use these items as bargaining chips in an effort, most likely, to gain economic relief, sanctions relief and some form of aid package which would include large amounts of food and energy to be given over by the United States in order to have a second meeting and for them to make these same promises a second time. They would demand these relief packages in aid and sanctions relief almost immediately for a meeting later. They would then renege on further discussions and return to their former habits of ballistic missile tests and nuclear research and bomb tests along with intermittent bluster about destroying Guam or possibly upping the ante to Hawaii. This was the exact same actions that previous meetings with North Korea had taken and probably should have been expected, and might have been expected, by the White House and administration members.

 

But even this was not the straw that broke the Trump’s back; there was one last insult which sent everything over the edge. North Korean Vice Minister Choe Son Hui, in addition to officials from North Korea calling Vice President Mike Pence a “dummy,” threatened, “Whether the United States will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States.” This is old school communist bluster of meet our demands or face complete and total annihilation. This did not work with President Reagan and it will work even less with President Trump. If there is one thing President Trump knows, it is mindless bluster and extreme hot air, both of which he has proven countless times to the media’s delight. President Trump knows that Kim Jong-un, despite being as unbalanced as he has shown, is not near stupid enough to trigger a nuclear exchange with the United States. That is especially true with President Trump in the White House being advised by former CIA Chief Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, former Marine four-star General as Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, whose nickname was “Mad dog,” and former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton as National Security Advisor who more than once claimed, “The Secretariat building in New York has thirty-eight stories. If it lost ten stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.” With this group around President Trump, how can anybody claim that Trump is the least sane person in the room?

 

Still, threaten President Trump with a nuclear stand-off was exactly the path that the North Korean’s decided was in their best interests and the disloyal opposition exploded at President Trump having the audacity to be offended and cancelling the summit. They honestly are advising that the United States should walk into a room and negotiate with a group which broke every previous agreement ever made with almost every former President for the past quarter century and who had just broken every agreed condition for the meeting and threatened to start a nuclear exchange. How much weaker a position would they prefer and how could one imagine one short of sending an aid package as a concession to get them to the table. Wait, that is the exact position every President has taken with Israel since President Jimmy Carter, both Democrat and Republican, when they demanded that Israel sacrifice land, release terrorists, eventually even terrorists with blood soaked hands, and sometimes both land and release terrorists. Thankfully, President Trump has taken a different track here as well and especially with his moving the Embassy to Jerusalem, many thanks for this.

 

President Trump and Kim Jong-un in Missile Face-off

President Trump and Kim Jong-un in Missile Face-off

 

President Trump knows as a businessman that one does not walk into a meeting in a position of surrender; you do not start any negotiations by surrender before even sitting down. President Trump was possibly going to let some of Kim Jong-un’s antics fall to the wayside and see what could be achieved at least through meeting head to head and actually talking. The problem was that Kim Jong-un heaped insult of refusal to even talk upon backtracking on every point and every other general insult he could find and then threatened war if President Trump did not do his bidding at the talks, it became obvious that Kim Jong-un was not taking President Trump seriously and was going to keep upping the level to see where he would balk and if President Trump meekly met him despite the ever rising levels of insult, then he had a measure of Trump as somebody he could walk right over. Now Kim Jong-un is very probably going to get an entirely different measure of President Trump as it is likely that President Trump will grant Kim Jong-un a brief amount of time to be the meek one and try to undo the damage he has wrought before upping the ante from the White House either through China or simply tightening the sanctions further. Now Kim Jong-un has been informed that this is a different President who is willing to only negotiate as equals and if you refuse that, then he will insist on negotiating with you once you surrender all but unconditionally and maybe even that.

 

As for the immediate future, it is in the better interest of Kim Jong-un if he finds the better judgement and comes to President Trump offering peace and honesty and forgets the one-upmanship. It will also be better for the people of North Korea for their “furious leader” to step off his high horse and find some means of joining the rest of the world striving for peace and not world conquest or even peninsula conquest. Unfortunately for the people of North Korea, Kim Jong-un is not all that concerned with their welfare but rather more concerned with appearing like a giant on the world’s stage. Kim Jong-un needs to learn that he is nowhere near a giant even on his peninsula as the South Korean economy and standard of living is so far and above that of North Korea that there is no comparison. Of course, it is that wealth which Kim Jong-un strives to take in order to steal everything from them as well and use their economic engine and manufacturing to bolster his military and forge greater nuclear research for better and more deadly nuclear warheads. There is a great amount of parallel between North Korea and Iran as there is between Kim Jong-un and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Both of these leaders believe they are a god or are in direct communication with their god. Both leaders are more interested in building their militaries and nuclear weapons capabilities and missile delivery systems than the welfare of their people. The main difference is that Kim Jong-un rules a bankrupt nation with an economy on life support and even that is failing while the other has economic problems but with excessively large infusions of cash over the past decade is now capable of causing great disturbances over the entirety of the Middle East. By cancelling the meeting with Kim Jong-un, President Trump has placed the gauntlet down gently in a controlled and nonthreatening manner in what we see as an attempt to settle this amicably without any threats or actual violence but firmly enough to send the message that unless Kim Jong-un capitulates and returns to civil behavior, then things will become more agitated and worse for the North Korean leader. Perhaps a shot directly at Kim Jong-un and placing an embargo on caviar, French champagne and fine cigars will hit him hard enough to make him see that President Trump is no fool and can directly strike at Kim Jong-un’s lifestyle.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

April 24, 2018

Religious Zionism is Alive and Flourishing

 

Religious Zionism was claimed to be on its death bed according to Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz. His article is somewhat disingenuous as he makes it sound like he was born and still resides in Eretz Yisroel with his being younger man living in Efrat and having joined his brothers and sisters to create a human chain stretching from Jerusalem to Gaza. It is not until late in the article he mentions that he has left Eretz Yisroel and now is an Open Orthodox Rabbi living in the United States. His claims about the problems with the Religious Zionists in Eretz Yisroel are actually easily understood by any Olim who resided in the United States and because of their intense Zionism came to Eretz Yisroel to live. He has adapted to his new home and this has caused him to have clouded vision. Please allow us to explain using our experiences after having come here to our little nest in Eretz Yisroel. It is a story about having gone in the opposite direction from Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz.

 

The first confession we need to explain is that despite being Zionist, we had little connection to Judaism despite having been born into a Jewish home. This home went from Orthodox to Reform Judaism before we had reached Bar Mitzvah age. Our connection to Judaism was restarted due to a death in the family. Still, our return was to a Conservative Synagogue as that Synagogue’s Rabbi was a better fit from the Reform Synagogue. The odd thing is the Conservative Synagogue services were very similar to the Reform we knew in our teens. It was coming to Eretz Yisroel where we were actually introduced to Orthodox, a Traditional Sephardi Orthodox Synagogue. This Synagogue has a mix of every form of Judaism in the congregants from Ashkenazim to Sephardim to Jews from India and throughout the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and North America with the main numbers from Romania. Needless to say, we found a flourishing and very colorful mix of Judaism and Jews and we are all friends and as a family. We still have much to learn about Judaism and Torah and the other major writings from the Rabbis over the ages. This experience has strengthened our Zionism and we have joined a political party which supports religious Zionism and every form of Zionism is practiced by the party members, again a mixture of every kind of Jew from every corner of the globe. For one of us it feels so much like home as their mother was an Iraqi Jew raised in Bombay, India and father was a British Jew from London, England with Ukrainian and Prussian ancestry. Yes, we have a rich mixture there as well.

 

May the Temple be Rebuilt Speedily in Our Days

May the Temple be Rebuilt Speedily in Our Days

 

Where our making Aliyah was due solely to Zionism, the religious part of our beliefs has truly begun since arriving in Eretz Yisroel. Can we yet claim to be Religious Zionists, well, probably not yet. Are we working in that direction, yes. But Rabbi Yanklowitz makes complaints with which we are very familiar. His complaints are purely leftist American centric complaints. His complaints center around the central tenets of the far left of the Democrat Party. This is to be expected from one who practices Open Orthodoxy which is actually another way of saying Reform Judaism, as their beliefs are very much similar. These Jews follow the socialist wealth redistribution and the minority rights over everybody else’s rights. They believe that borders are not real lines between nations and sacred as they want anybody crossing any border to have full rights in their new nation. This was exemplified by his problem with Israel’s desire to deport the illegal immigrants from Africa who only came to Israel for economic reasons. But as Israel is a wealthy nation, Rabbi Yanklowitz believes that anyone who arrives from a poor nation has an economic right to the better life in the wealthier country no matter the problems and threats to their presumed new nation they may pose. The only thing we would like to tell the good Rabbi is, if you desire the leftist utopia which you envision and likely find the United States currently lacking with President Trump, perhaps you would be best to live in a real socialist utopia like Cuba, Venezuela or North Korea.

 

But you probably are too attached to your wealthy life in the United States where you can criticize Israel of not being that socialist utopia you envision will ultimately save the world. We know the crime Israel has committed is choosing to move from its socialist roots to a capitalist economic model and make it work. Let us set your mind at rest on one subject, the people of Israel give more to the needy than can be measured as most of this assistance is given by one Israeli to another without any need for the government to enact welfare and other forced charity. The charity in Israel is beyond measure because there is no need for the government to take from one Israeli and give to another because the Israelis are perfectly capable of performing this deed on their own. Until you decide to leave your comfortable palaces in the United States, and we realize here in Israel our homes are necessarily smaller and we adapted, and return to Eretz Yisroel, then work to make the United States that perfect land as you have stated that the Diaspora should be the great place for the Jewish People. We disagree and we further promise not to tell the United States how to run their business and you can promise not to attempt to foist your politics upon us. And what we realize from your other writings is that you do not view the Temple as a positive thing while we see the building of the Third Temple as probably the greatest event we have yet to undertake. As our text translates in our morning prayers, “May it be the will before you, Hashem, our G0d and the G0d of our forefathers, that rebuilt shall the Holy Temple be speedily in our days.” We would like to thankyou for your impatience.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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