The Art of Dealing with Dictators
The recent "Kimchi Conference" in Hanoi provides insight into the hard realities of dealing with dictatorships. One of those realities is that the North Korean dictatorship is dependent on the Red Chinese dictatorship for 90-percent of its trade. If Red Chinese dictator-for-life, Xi Jing Ping, cut off the supply of foodstuffs flowing into North Korea, millions of North Koreans would die.
Moreover, what would happen if Xi Jing Ping decided to incorporate North Korea into Red China? Could the South Koreans or even the United States prevent North Korea from becoming part of Red China? No, just as when Vladimir Putin took the Crimea back into the Russian Federation, there was nothing the western powers could do, short of thermonuclear war, to have stopped that from happening. Thus, the world must accept the fact that North Korea is Red Chinas vassal state.
Nevertheless, the talks with North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un in Singapore and in Hanoi have been useful in getting Kim Jong-un to modify his behavior within the limits already set by Xi Jing Ping. From experience thus far, we can deduce that those limits do not include a Korean War Peace Treaty or a reunified Korea or a totally denuclearized North Korea.
Meanwhile, Xi Jing Ping understands the desires of the U.S. and South Korea to curb Kim Jong-uns nuclear adventures and for some steps toward unification. Kim Jong-un then is a useful proxy in fending off President Trump from using his full bag of economic clubs all-at-once to reduce Red Chinas plundering of global markets via unfair trade practices. Allowing Kim Jong-un to talk with President Trump is Xi Jing Pings carrot to hold off President Trumps economic-sanctions stick.
Xi Jing Ping has his own concerns. To wit: The Red Chinese economy is overextended and is in decline. Moreover, the edicts of previous Chinese dictators, limiting families to only one child, have resulted in a dearth of child-bearing Chinese. Red China is beginning to experience a man-power shortage.
The reunification of North Korea with South Korea would not be in the best interest of Red China. While Red Chinas state-controlled Capitalism has raised the standard of living of Red Chinas coastal population, there are billions of inland Chinese living in abject circumstances that might give rise to revolution. The booming consumer-Capitalism of South Korea would seep northward into a unified Korea and Xi Jing Pings overall economy would suffer by comparison. For the same reason, Xi Jing Ping does not want President Trump to "con" Kim Jong-un into improving the quality-of-life for North Koreans.
Both Winston Churchill and Harold Macmillan are attributed to have said: "Jaw, jaw is better than war, war." President Trump appears to be following their advice, albeit while trying to rebuild the U.S. Navys presence in the South China Sea and athwart Red Chinas access to the oil of the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Malacca.
In Hanoi, President Trump demonstrated that "no deal" is better than a "bad deal." Meanwhile, stronger economic sanctions will be imposed on North Korea, the lifting of which will depend on if and when Xi Jing Ping agrees to do fair trade with the United States.
©2019. William Hamilton.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. Dr. Hamilton is the author of The Wit and Wisdom of William Hamilton: the Sage of Sheepdog Hill, Pegasus Imprimis Press (2017). "Central View," can also be seen at: www.central-view.com