The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday 4 April 2018

Air Date: 
April 04, 2018

Hour One
Tuesday 4 April 2018/ Hour 1, Block A:  Andrew Collier, managing director of Orient Capital Research in Hong Kong and author of Shadow Banking and the Rise of Capitalism in China, on China tariffs.
US puts $50 bil of tariffs on China; China puts $50 bil of tariffs on the US.  Chinese Vice-Minister of Treasury says, “We should talk.”  Behind the scenes, trade organizations are desperately trying tot get Trump to lay off; billions of dollars’ worth of trade annually, incl 25% of GM’s profits.
When China entered the WTO 15 years ago it suffered a blow to its own firms; since then, yes, it's taken [unfair] advantage.
The WTO really was developed to handle disputes like this one to avoid tit-for-tat reciprocity. Yet both side seem to be bypassing WTO dispute mechanism, maybe revert to it late. WTO irrelevant? No no, Lots of matters in China are complicated.  How much dumping of steel must we stop before the Chinese stop?  The US has a clock running: the 2018 midterm elections; but Permanent Ruler Xi has no such clock.   Three months fro m now: negotiations will go on; China will open some of its banks, reduce export of areas such as steel & those Trump doesn't care for, People miss the point that technology is the big issue-- $200 mil in China; AI.   Chinese embassy in DC has prepared a county-by-county analysis of US trade sources, ready to shut down trade with those counties on which Trump counts for vote. Pig farmers, soybeans.
Tuesday 4 April 2018/ Hour 1, Block B:  Tara O, Adjunct Fellow, Pacific Forum CSIS and Fellow at the Institute for Corean-American Studies, in re: Pres Moon Jae-in of South Korea wants North and South to join, so he wants to change the South Korean constitution to accommodate Km Jong-il.
Moon Jae-in said: Even if I have to revise the con, I’ll make a confederation, a federal republic.  Reorient ROK away from free-market economy to socialism. Worked on it for over a year, released it on Jan1, 208.  Of the hundred-plus revisions, first is: Delete “liberal” fro m liberal democracy. Replace _ to free, democratic society.   Third is:  Prohibit firings and layoffs.
In other words, remove freedom; freedom of speech, assembly; and private property.
Also proposed:  people able to recall Natl Assembly members mid-term; and a senior judge needn’t have studied the law. Govt ownership of land.  These are crucial for  . . .  
Sleek website asks people to agree or disagree; it collect numbers.  More people have clicked “yes” than “no” – because they’re sound bites and formulated not to explain the ramifications and designed to elicit “yes.”
Tuesday 4 April 2018/ Hour 1, Block C: Matthew Ha, FDD, in re: South Korean rock stars performed in DPRK, where media were blocked.  Kim put on the image of warm host; charm offensive.  . . . This Adm has aggressively targeted  . . . Kim’s is a cash-strapped regime.  Has become stronger, tighter and smarter, is shifting gears from ICBM testing to extorting more concessions from US, China, Japan, Russia, etc.    Denuclearization?  Ha – that’s the goal. 
Is Kim ready to meet Trump? Does Kim think he can play Trump as he did Obama and his father did to other US presidents? Does he know that Trump doesn't [play aru9nd]?  Did Xi tell Kim that Trump [is serious], tell him the tale of the chocolate cake and 59 Cruise missiles?
Did Xi tell Kim, China has your back so you needn’t concede to Trump of Moon? How long can DPRK make it without cash?  We have a broad framework of sanctions prepared, but we [sort of hope to negotiate through this . . .] – Ooops: [JB:] Matthew is inside Washington, in the center of the empire [and therefore is perhaps a tad too compliant --editor].
Tuesday 4 April 2018/ Hour 1, Block D: Veronique de Rugy, Mercatus Center, in re:  Tariffs make everyone unhappy – vide the stock market recently – but note the Chinese Vice-Finance Minister asking for negotiations.  Recall Steve Mnuchin’s meeting Chinese in two weeks. FT today: How reasonable the Chinese sound.    Market seems to have reacted positively today. If her are actually trade negotiators who meet there, I have a lot of faith n US trade negotiators. An agreement would be an improvement over the current status quo.  The US always has lower tariffs and trade barriers than do other countries, so we benefit from [every improvement].  Chinese always give u a tiny bit at a time and never more than they have to; we’ll get some of what we want but not all.  US has elections [i.e., domestic political pressure] in six months and the Chinese never have elections; their advantage?  Definitely yes. 
VdR: China has become a significant adversary in a way it wasn’t in the past. Cannot push them around.   GC:  In 2017, 88.8% of China’s trade surplus was with the US.  Chinese economy is heading into a debt crisis, US is not.  VdR: However, the Trump Adm has more to lose than the Chinese do. JB: We're not sure the Chinese can take a recession.  VdR: They can. If we negotiate, good; but . . .
Hour Two
Tuesday 4 April 2018/ Hour 2, Block A:   Sung-Yoon Lee, professor at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, in re: Kim Jong-eun was recently in Beijing, acting the subservient client. The “ultra-weird” vacillation from kowtowing to massive death threat.  Kim, dictator of the cruelest totalitarian state in history, with no parallel to crimes against humanity, has in three months began to act as a reasonable leader. Why? He sent reps to Olympic, and his sister to the South to smile.  Met with Xi Jinping six year after acceding to power. [Here; recap of a decade of history.] . .  Don't underestimate North Korea: this is a matter of life and death; for the US, it's a high priority. For Koreans handling “the North American barbarians, “ as they say, is a practiced game – very good at handling guests. Foreigner enters skeptical, but the DPRK hosts know a deal about you and your country and so the guest is impressed. “Kim seems manly, honest, sincere.”  “Clever, reasonable.”  [Yike!]  This is a charade that buys Kim time and money for him to prefect his nuclear arsenal.   
Incoming US  Adm says, We only have nine months before the DPRK achieves nuclear breakout, posing an existential threat to the US.  I’m not convinced that Kim feels very insecure.  Will line up Putin, Xi, Trump and Abe, and place himself as the leader of ______.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is having a blast. Fresh off a posh getaway to Beijing last week with his wife, Ri Sol-Ju, during which they were treated to a lavish banquet featuring rare Chinese Maotai liquor at $200,000 (not a typo) a bottle, on Easter Sunday Kim had a night out at the theater with his wife and sister, Kim Yo Jong, to enjoy a rare concert in Pyongyang by South Korea’s top pop singers — including the red hot, super talented girl band, Red Velvet
Kim graciously invited the Southerners for a group photo afterward and intoned that cultural diplomacy between the two sides should become routine — thus, coming across as a reasonable leader or, at the least, a nice man.

Of the two acts of indulgence — strolling statesmanlike with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Beijing’s red carpet and watching fanlike a live performance of the rhythmic-and-bluesy hit single “Bad Boy” by Red Velvet (and meeting the singers  afterward) — the latter will prove far more transformative in casting Kim Jong Un as a regular, well-intentioned guy finally coming out of his angry isolation and as a responsible steward of his nukes and gulags. It’s a key step in cajoling the world into accepting his nuclear state as fait accompli.
Whereas a China visit by the antisocial North Korean leader, followed by reciprocal visits to Pyongyang by Chinese officials, were, like death and taxes, bound to happen (China is North Korea’s sole treaty ally, as is North Korea China’s), by personally endorsing K-pop in Pyongyang Kim seeks to reach new heights in his ambitious image makeover campaign. To publicly embrace the enemy’s most subversive soft power is to whitewash his menacing totalitarian self as a reform-minded, confident, well-meaning and — perish the thought — even “hip” young leader presiding over a not-so-abnormal nation. 
Such is the dismally low bar the outside world has blindly set on how to assess the ultra-weird North Korean regime, even the most mundane acts like meeting with foreign leaders, visiting China, or going to a concert will be interpreted as signs of desire for denuclearization, reform and opening. For example, that Kim Jong Un had lived in Switzerland as a boy, favors mini skirt-clad female bands, enjoys being seen in public with his wife, and likes to frolic with former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman have all fueled mystifying prognostications that Kim is, respectively, a reformer, modern man, family man and secretly signaling Washington for talks.
When it comes to North Korea, the non-weird has meant a brave new world, no matter how short-lived.
Kim’s brainstorming with President Xi on common strategy on the eve of a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-In in April was virtually preordained. Kim’s daddy, Kim Jong Il, did just that, making a “surprise visit” to Beijing two weeks before his first-ever summit meeting with his South Korean counterpart in June 2000. Soon thereafter, Kim II courted Bill Clinton and then met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow. In 2002, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi paid him a visit in Pyongyang. In those years, money, food and fuel flowed like water from these nations into Pyongyang’s pipelines.
All this Kim III now seeks, and much more. With a meeting with Xi Jinping under his belt, Kim is intent on reviving his father’s fundraising campaigns vis-à-vis Seoul in the 2000s (when nearly $1 billion a year flowed into Pyongyang’s coffers) and hoodwinking the United States into scaling back sanctions enforcement against his regime. Ultimately, the North Korean strongman will try to shed his buffoonish dictator garb and don the cloak of a veritable global statesman with nukes for keeps.
It just may work, because for Pyongyang, it always pays to provoke. And it pays even more to placate afterwards. With continual bluster and weapons tests throughout 2017 already past, Kim is planning successive summit meetings with the leaders of Beijing, Seoul, Washington, Tokyo and Moscow, interspersed with more inter-Korean pageantries and greater openness to international events. What such a vigorous outreach after years of hermetic petulance will achieve is a drawn-out, open-ended, sanctions-busting negotiations process on the “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” the sine qua non to becoming completely, verifiably and irreversibly a powerful nuclear state.
In fact, Kim and Xi would have discussed just how to draw out as long as possible the timetable for “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.” Considering there are no nukes in the South, what does this phrase exactly mean?
While most American policymakers blithely repeat this strange formulation (the phrase made its debut in the 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks and is enshrined in every U.N. Security Council Resolution on North Korea passed since July 2006), to Pyongyang “denuclearization” means the ultimate goal of dislodging the U.S. extended nuclear deterrence from the region — that is, South Korea and Japan. Getting Washington to halt sanctions against Pyongyang’s palace economy and sign a peace treaty are necessary steps in this long-term goal. Today, North Korea is closer than ever to realizing these tantalizing dreams, thanks in part to the outside world’s uncompromising gullibility.
Music heals, touches hearts and inspires. But just as the transformative power of classical music could not open North Korea when the New York Philharmonic Orchestra played in Pyongyang in 2008, and could not bring peace to Israel and Palestine when the world-class conductor-pianist Daniel Barenboim, an Israeli Jew, performed in Ramallah in 1999 and in the 2000s, so, too, shall the transformative power of K-pop in Pyongyang fail to bring about any change of geopolitical or humanitarian consequence.
But as a metaphor for hope, reconciliation and change, K-pop shall live on, even as Pyongyang’s Bad Boy, bit by bit, gets what he wants. The North Korean elites in attendance shall remember, even as their own individual freedoms and artistic creativity are quashed daily, the night they saw Red Velvet — the weaponization of modern Korean femininity, artistry and sizzling creativity.
Whether it’s any match for Pyongyang’s weaponization of weirdness and fissile materials is a question best answered by the party with the highest stakes in this game, Seoul.
Sung-Yoon Lee is Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor in Korean Studies at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.
Tuesday 4 April 2018/ Hour 2, Block B: Greg Scarlatoiu, Executive Director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, in re:  Natl Security Advisor and designated Secy of State will push back. In the UN, however, nations make it difficult to pressure North Korea.  Greg’s organization is struggling against some of the worst actors.  On 2 Feb, we had support of Greece, Turkey, US, Uruguay; but nine countries  - Burundi, China, Russian Federation, South Africa, Venezuela, Cuba, Pakistan [plus four] voted against us.  We ask for consultative status, could go on record with statements, cosponsor [motions], et al.  Secy-Gen Gutierres quoted one of our reports, have been quoted  multiple times by UN officials and agencies; ergo, can we participate in the process of providing information. This is about basic participation of civil society in the UN,
The bad guys don't like you , Greg.  Because they were critical in bringing he world’s attention to a young man who;d recoveterded from the brutality inflicted on him by North Korea.
Tuesday 4 April 2018/ Hour 2, Block C:  Andrew C McCarthy, National Review, & Fellow at NR Inst; former Chief Asst. U.S. Attorney; in re: The power the DoJ has over the Muller investigation:  Mueller is not an unguided missile” because he [Rosenstein?] filed a classified memo on 2 Aug, ten weeks after initial appt, which lays out grounds for criminal investigation.   Ten weeks after? Suspect! 1. No reason he couldn’t have issued the classified memo the day he apptd Mueller; and      . . .  Here, they assigned a prosecutor first, and then set out to find a crime.
Tuesday 4 April 2018/ Hour 2, Block D: Andrew C McCarthy, National Review, & Fellow at NR Inst; former Chief Asst. U.S. Attorney; in re:
Hour Three
Tuesday 4 April 2018/ Hour 3, Block A:   Monica Crowley, London Center, in re: Trump ideologies
Tuesday 4 April 2018/ Hour 3, Block B:   Rick Eisenberg, Milwaukee , in re: the judge elected in Wisconsin
Tuesday 4 April 2018/ Hour 3, Block C:   Jonathan Schanzer, FDD, in re: Syria
Tuesday 4 April 2018/ Hour 3, Block D:   Salena Zito, CNN, Washington Examiner, etc., in re: Pennsylvania politics.
Hour Four
Tuesday 4 April 2018/ Hour 4, Block A:  The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s,  by William I Hitchcock
Tuesday 4 April 2018/ Hour 4, Block B:  The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s,  by William I Hitchcock
Tuesday 4 April 2018/ Hour 4, Block CEternity Street: Violence and Justice in Frontier Los Angeles, by John Mack Faragher
Tuesday 4 April 2018/ Hour 4, Block D:  Eternity Street: Violence and Justice in Frontier Los Angeles, by John Mack Faragher