Joint mil­i­tary drills in ques­tion

The Korea Times - - NK-US SUMMIT - By Kim Jae-ky­oung kjk@ko­re­

SIN­GA­PORE — Global an­a­lysts have crit­i­cized U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for his plan to halt joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cises with South Korea, which he an­nounced Tues­day at a press con­fer­ence fol­low­ing his sum­mit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

They be­lieve Trump gave too many con­ces­sions to Kim with­out re­ceiv­ing pledges over how and when to dismantle the North’s nu­clear weapons.

“Trump’s agree­ment to end mil­i­tary ex­er­cises is a sig­nif­i­cant con­ces­sion on the part of the U.S., but we will have to see if there are con­crete mea­sures tak­ing place on North Korea’s part,” Troy Stan­garone, a Wash­ing­ton-based ex­pert on the Korean Penin­sula, told The Korea Times.

“The agree­ment to end mil­i­tary ex­er­cises will have im­pli­ca­tions for the U.S. and South Korea’s abil­ity to de­ter North Korea and de­fend against at­tack.”

Sean King, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of Park Strate­gies, echoed his view, say­ing, “Trump calls our war games provoca­tive. An un­be­liev­ably in­ap­pro­pri­ate com­ment.”

“Plus, Kim got us to say com­plete de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the Korean Penin­sula, which is North Korean code for South Korea’s re­moval from the U.S. nu­clear um­brella.”

He thinks the sum­mit brought no progress, say­ing most points in the Trump-Kim agree­ment mirror points from the 2005 joint state­ment.

“I’m glad there’s no mention of U.S. troop with­drawals but we should only es­tab­lish re­la­tions with the North if the North rec­og­nizes the South,” he said.

“After all, we only rec­og­nized East Ger­many in 1972 after the two Ger­manys rec­og­nized each other the same year.”

Most an­a­lysts have shown dis­ap­point­ment at the out­come of the sum­mit, de­scrib­ing it as a deal with few de­tails.

Dou­glas Web­ber, a pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at INSEAD, said the agree­ment was a state­ment or dec­la­ra­tion of in­tent, de­void of any de­tails.

“It is at best the be­gin­ning of a (long-term) ne­go­ti­a­tion process, not the end. For the sum­mit to prove to be very mean­ing­ful, it will need to be fol­lowed up by fur­ther ne­go­ti­a­tions and sub­stan­tive agree­ments,” he said.

“The se­quenc­ing of mu­tual con­ces­sions and the ver­i­fi­ca­tion of any steps North Korea agrees to take to­ward de­nu­cle­ariza­tion will be cru­cial.”

Stephan Hag­gard, the direc­tor of the Korea-Pa­cific Pro­gram at the UC San Diego School of Global Pol­icy and Strat­egy, agreed.

“It’s hard to es­cape the con­clu­sion that this was a weak sum­mit out­come. It is pos­si­ble that more was agreed than we have seen but there is lit­tle to sup­port the con­clu­sion that the U.S. and its al­lies got much from the sum­mit,” he said.

“The dec­la­ra­tion is ex­tremely vague, with no over­ar­ch­ing frame­work, time­line or short-term com­mit­ments, be­yond the sur­pris­ing com­mit­ment of the pres­i­dent to sus­pend the fall joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cises.”

James Bin­de­nagel, the Henry Kissinger Pro­fes­sor for Gov­er­nance and In­ter­na­tional Se­cu­rity at Rheinis­che Friedrich-Wil­helms Uni­ver­sity in Bonn, Ger­many, de­scribed the pact as “a good step,” but said the par­ties should have out­lined how they plan to get there.

“This is a baby step to­ward de­nu­cle­ariza­tion, but there is no strat­egy out­lined for the process. Un­cer­tainty will con­tinue,” he said.

“Kim won Trump’s recog­ni­tion with­out giv­ing up his nu­clear weapons, which is a sig­nif­i­cant con­ces­sion by Trump.” Not­ing that the two of them have en­dorsed the Pan- munjeom Dec­la­ra­tion, he said, “Pres­i­dent Moon has the back­ing of the U.S. to talk with North Korea on peace on the penin­sula.”

Hag­gard stressed it is worth­while fo­cus­ing on Kim’s reaf­fir­ma­tion of the Pan­munjeom Dec­la­ra­tion.

“It only commits Kim Jong-un to work­ing to­ward de­nu­cle­ariza­tion, a lengthy process, and do­ing so in the con­text of the fa­vored North Korean for­mu­la­tion of de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the Korean Penin­sula,” he said.

Re­gard­ing the state­ment on ex­er­cises, he said, “It is classic Trump, as his own USFK com­man­der did not ap­pear to know about the con­ces­sion and South Korea does not ap­pear to have been con­sulted in ad­vance.”

Bin­de­nagel said re­cov­er­ing the re­mains of the war dead is im­por­tant to tell the story of the North’s 1950 in­va­sion of South Korea that re­sulted in the United Na­tions declar­ing war.

“The U.S. and its al­lies fought as the U.N. Com­mand to the stale­mate of 1953.” Re­mem­brance of the facts of that war is a grim re­minder of the his­tory of North Korea that needs to be over­come.

Troy Stan­garone

Stephan Hag­gard

Sean King

James Bin­de­nagel

Dou­glas Web­ber

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