Friday, June 30, 2017

Meanwhile, Diplomacy Proceeds Apace

In a better world Donald Trump would not be Donald Trump’s own worst enemy. After enjoying a largely successful week, especially against arch-nemesis CNN, Trump shot himself in the… by posting a tweet about a couple of no-account talk show hosts. 

Allowing himself to be baited into looking like anything but a president, he fueled yet another round of media attacks. If he knows that media producers spent most of their waking hours trying to find anything that will delegitimize him, he should not feed their rage.

For the record, when you are President of the United States fighting back can never involve making a disparaging remark about a woman’s facelift. It diminishes you and affirms everyone’s low opinion of you. Be serious, folks.

In the meantime, the diplomatic maneuvering over North Korea continues apace. A week ago today I posted about Trump’s tweet to China… in which he thanked the Chinese government for trying to control North Korea, adding that it has not worked out.

Since then the policy has gotten some muscle, from the United States, and has elicited a response from China.

To review events,  on Wednesday Reuters (via Maggie's Farm) reported that China had suspended fuel sales to North Korea:

China National Petroleum Corp has suspended sales of fuel to North Korea over concerns the state-owned oil company won't get paid, as pressure mounts on Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear and missile programmes, three sources told Reuters.   

It's unclear how long the suspension will last. A prolonged cut would threaten critical supplies of fuel and force North Korea to find alternatives to its main supplier of diesel and gasoline, as scrutiny of China's close commercial ties with its increasingly isolated neighbour intensifies.   

Apparently, the act has produced something of an effect:

Data for May released on Friday showed China supplied significantly lower volumes of diesel and gasoline compared with a month earlier, although monthly tonnages can vary widely. June data will be released in late July. 
Fuel prices in North Korea, meanwhile, have sharply risen in recent months, suggesting a tightening in supply.

A Reuters analysis of data collected by Daily NK showed the price of gasoline sold by private dealers in Pyongyang and the northern border cities of Sinuiju and Hyesan had hit $1.46 per kg on June 21, up almost 50 percent from April 21. Until then, they had remained relatively stable since late last year.

Diesel prices averaged $1.20 per kg as of June 21, more than double over the same period, according to Daily NK, a website run by defectors who collect prices via phone calls with North Korean fuel traders.

For its part, the United States government has taken action against a Chinese bank that does business in North Korea. The Wall Street Journal reported this morning:

Marking a new phase in the Trump administration’s pressure on North Korea, the White House said it plans to cut off China’s Bank of Dandong from the U.S. financial system, accusing it of facilitating financing for companies involved in Pyongyang’s weapons program.

The move is an escalation in Washington’s efforts to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, using a sanctions tool that proved effective under the George W. Bush administration in forcing the regime back to negotiations by cutting off Pyongyang’s financial ties to the world.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, announcing the new sanctions at the White House on Thursday, said the administration would “continue to roll out sanctions” against companies involved with Pyongyang’s weapons programs. President Donald Trump will raise the issue with leaders from the Group of 20 largest economies at a summit next week as Washington seeks to coordinate international action against Pyongyang.

“We are committed to cutting off all illegal funds going to North Korea,” Mr. Mnuchin said. “North Korea’s provocative, destabilizing and inhumane behavior will not be tolerated.”

“We are committed to targeting North Korea’s external enablers and maximizing economic pressure on the regime until it ceases its nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” he said.

Mr. Mnuchin said Thursday’s action, which will take at least two months to go into force, isn’t intended as a message to China.

This might have an effect. It might not. It beats going to war. And it does show how the diplomatic game is played.


James said...

Yes, Trump is getting a lot of things done that you don't hear much about, but I also think (despite the latest on Mika) he's winning his war with the MSM. I sense that within the last month the MSM has gone from offense, to a fighting retreat, to now trying desperately to stave off a rout. I might be wrong in all of this, but I sense that.
I've said before, if you're a conservative and pro Trump (which I am) you have to be happy with what's transpired, but it should be remembered that there will be defeats, setbacks, etc, and you can't get to down. As far as the complaints about being beneath the office, that's pretty good coming from people who supported a policy of interns below the office holder.

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: This might have an effect. It might not. It beats going to war. And it does show how the diplomatic game is played.

I do recall an oil embargo by the U.S. helped trigger the Pearl Harbor attack. OTOH, it also triggered the sleeping giant, and we're not sleeping this time.

And this isn't exactly new,
While Beijing may consider some new restrictions on North Korean commodities, a ban on energy trade would lead to the regime’s collapse, said Shi at the China Institute of International Studies. He said it’s more likely that China will agree to a more detailed sanctions lists -- particularly goods that can be used for both military and civilian purposes.

Or back to 2013
"If China were to decide to impose an economic embargo on North Korea, it would be absolutely crippling to North Korea and would essentially be unobservable to the Chinese economy," said Dr Noland. Moreover, the size of China's food aid contributions to North Korea is unclear, but it is believed that China donates a large percentage of the North's food supply.

Even more importantly, North Korea's fuel needs are serviced by China. That is a major consideration in the middle of winter.

It's 100% China's problem, if we didn't care about South Korea. If the U.S. said tomorrow "We don't mind if China invades North Korea for regime change for humanitarian reasons", I'd imagine they'd readily accept the encouragement.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I'm with James.

Trump is not the only Republican who understands the media's duplicity and role in D.C.'s alliance system, but he is the ONLY Republican with the courage to take them on. I sense the tide is turning.

The Golden Rule of traditional journalism is "Never become part of the story." We've had 30 years of infotainment "journalism" from news divisions that have been turned into profit centers by multinational, multimedia behemoths. We have thin-skinned schoolchildren masquerading as intrepid warriors of the fourth estate, with identical educational pedigrees and an incestuous award system that makes the profession very insular and mired in groupthink. This is vulnerability and weakness, and Trump is exploiting it using a means that limits the number of characters he can use, but fits perfectly with the sound bite regime the vacuous modern media has created. He is drawing these decadent, smarty-pants "professionals" out of their foxholes and out into the open, mowing down their credibility in detail. This is being done in a sustained, progressive fashion, with gains every day. It's working. The White House Briefing Room this week has featured a medley of temper tantrums drawn out by accusing them of being "fake news" -- a term they coined to destroy the legitimacy of Trump's election. He's making fools of them. It's not hard to do when they are fools already. Rope-a-dope is fun to watch.

Get beyond the content and look at the context.

Grant's casualty figures were atrocious, yet he was the general who won the war. He did it by utilizing his advabtages with men and materiel, and a relentless pursuit of his quarry, day-after-day. He suspended prisoner exchanges, laid siege to cities, terrorized the valleys, and presented generous surrender terms.

Trump is exposing the reality that today's journalists are opinion paraders with a uniform worldview. It's his opinion against theirs, and they're not up to the test because they fancy themselves as heirs to the giant journalists of yore. We see every day they're not. They're just political actors in a town full of them. They are enemies of the Republican agenda. They're fair game.

Let the thing be pressed.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

No one has a problem with fighting back against the media, but you do need to be effective. Making the media look like they are right does not improve your position or enhance your stature.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I submit it is effective. They are losing whatever credibility they had. They don't look like they are "right" at all. They're going insane. He's making them look like crybabies who can dish it out, but can't take it. People get that. That's why I've got the sense that Trump's approach is going to work. In order for it not to work, journalists will have to go back to being real journalists and doing real work. The rot has hit so deep, I don't know that they can do that. Serious journalists are starting to scold their colleagues for all this crap, but I doubt they'll be able to turn back. They don't do real work. They're just parroting each other.

Sam L. said...

Trump's tweets are flash-bang grenades--loud, obvious attention-grabbers, just the magician distracts the audience to do his trick. Or like throwing meat to ravenous dogs.

trigger warning said...

"If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."
--- Buraq Obama

Not anymore, Buraq.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

So Obama is a bitter clinger, huh?

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

"We are committed to targeting North Korea’s external enablers and maximizing economic pressure on the regime until it ceases its nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” [Mnuchin] said.

That's my kind of diplomacy... the message you need to send a hermit regime that's thrrratening to nuke you.

James said...

By the way, it seems the famous assessment by 17 agencies was only done by 4. Fortunately the other 13 got participation trophies.

Ares Olympus said...

trigger warning said... "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."

Here's the source of the quote, sounds like a joke, sort of like imaginig shooting someone on 5th avenue and not losing any votes, except Obama stole the line from a movie. It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye or a head depending on the size of the knife or the gun.
He warned that the general election campaign could get ugly. “They’re going to try to scare people. They’re going to try to say that ‘that Obama is a scary guy,’” he said. A donor yelled out a deep accented “Don’t give in!”

“I won’t but that sounded pretty scary. You’re a tough guy,” Obama said.

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said. “Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”

Perhaps similar to his chant "Fired up! ready to go!" You can see why Hillary was envious of Obama back then. The Story of "Fired up! Ready to go!"