In February 2017, Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of North Korean dicator Kim Jong-un and one-time heir to the North Korean leadership, was at the Kuala Lumpur international airport terminal when a woman approached him and wiped an oily substance on his face before disappearing, her unusual actions caught on CCTV. Moments later, another woman came from behind and covered his eyes with her hands. She then slid them down over his mouth, quickly apologised and walked away. Less than 20 minutes later the man was dead, the victim of an assassination carried out with the nerve agent VX, one of the most deadly chemical weapons in the world. How North Korea got away with the assassination of Kim Jong-nam.
This is the real-life Game of Thrones, “Pyongyang style.”
On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the North Korean Leader’s Slain Half Brother Was a CIA Source (subscription required):
Kim Jong Nam, the slain half brother of North Korea’s leader, was a Central Intelligence Agency source who met on several occasions with agency operatives, a person knowledgeable about the matter said.
“There was a nexus” between the U.S. spy agency and Mr. Kim, the person said.
The Journal cited an unnamed “person knowledgeable about the matter” for the report, and said many details of Kim Jong Nam’s relationship with the CIA remained unclear … because it is highly classified intelligence.
It was against this backdrop that a reporter asked Donald Trump yesterday about his diplomatic efforts with the rogue nuclear state. Steve Benen reports:
The Republican’s response was unexpected:
“…I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un, and I think the relationship is very well. But I appreciated the letter. I saw the information about the CIA, with respect to his brother, or half-brother. And I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices.”
Trump went on and on for a while, gushing about the “warmth” of the dictator’s latest personal correspondence, before being asked to clarify his concerns about the CIA and Kim Jong Un’s half-brother.
The Republican added, “I know this: That the relationship is such that that wouldn’t happen under my auspices.”
The obvious question is, why not?
I realize Trump has reached the curious point at which he believes North Korea’s brutal dictator is his genuine, personal friend. As truly bizarre as the circumstances appear, the American president has said – publicly and on the record – that he and Kim Jong Un “fell in love.”
But the fact remains that North Korea is a dangerous, rogue nuclear state. The United States’ interest in learning everything possible about developments in the secretive country should be painfully obvious, even to Trump, so the CIA’s interest in Kim Jong Un’s half-brother isn’t exactly surprising.
And yet, there was the Republican yesterday, suggesting it was somehow impolite for American intelligence professionals to turn to Kim Jong Nam as a source for information. Trump added that it’s something he wouldn’t allow.
It necessarily leads to some awkward questions: is the current American president opposed to intelligence gathering about North Korea? Has he made any kind of private commitments to his friend in Pyongyang not to engage in any espionage?
Is Trump allowing his love interest for a murderous dictator to cloud his judgment and his duty to protect the security interests of the United States ahead of his own deviant prurient love interests?
This follows the recent Wall Street Journal report that North Korea Executed Members of Nuclear-Negotiating Team, Defectors Say (subscription required):
U.S. and South Korean authorities are looking into a report that North Korea has executed several members of its nuclear negotiating team as a consequence of the no-deal outcome at February’s nuclear summit with President Trump in Vietnam.
High-level North Korean defectors say multiple diplomats were executed in March, while other senior officials have been demoted or purged.
It also follows renewed missile tests by North Korea during Trump’s state visit to Japan in which Trump said he was not concerned by North Korea’s missile tests, but he did endorse Kim Jong Un’s attack on fellow American and former Vice President Joe Biden in a press conference in Tokyo.
So Trump’s Korean love interest is now his campaign surrogate? Trump backs Kim Jong Un’s attacks on Biden, dismisses North Korea missile tests:
“Kim Jong-Un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low IQ individual. He probably is based on his record. I think I agree with him on that,” Trump said.
Trump was asked if he is siding with a dictator over a fellow citizen and former U.S. vice president. Trump responded that he doesn’t take sides and, on foreign soil, went on to call the Obama administration a “disaster.”
“I can tell you that Joe Biden was a disaster, his administration with President Obama, they were basically a disaster when it came to so many things,” the president said. “Whether it was economy, whether it was military, defense, no matter what it was. They had a lot of problems. So I’m not a fan.”
Despite Trump and Abe saying that they are on the same page when it comes to North Korea, Trump has downplayed the North’s recent missile tests — drawing a sharp contrast to the assessment of his own national security adviser and his Japanese host.
“My people think it could have been a violation, as you know,” the president said. “I view it differently. I view it as a man, perhaps he wants to get attention, and perhaps not. Who knows? It doesn’t matter. All I know is that there have been no nuclear tests. There have been no ballistic missiles going out. There have been no long-range missiles going out. And I think that someday we’ll have a deal.”
Yet the president’s national security adviser John Bolton said that the recent missile tests are “no doubt” violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Trump said he is in “no rush” for North Korea to denuclearize.
“I am very happy with the way it’s going. And intelligent people agree,” he added, praising Kim as a “smart man.”
Clearly way smarter than the idiot we elected president who can beso easily manipulated through flattery and stroking his enormous … ego. Those North Korean missiles Trump dismissed could strike anywhere in South Korea where American troops are stationed, and anywhere in Japan, including where Trump gave his press conference. So yes, it is a big effin’ deal.
Kim’s “love letters” to Trump aside, the North Korean position in the stalled nuclear talks has hardened. At the end of May, North Korea said the stalled talks won’t resume unless US changes position on disarmament:
North Korea said that nuclear negotiations with the United States will never resume unless the Trump administration moves away from what Pyongyang described as unilateral demands for disarmament.
The statement by an unnamed North Korean foreign ministry spokesman published in state media was the country’s latest expression of displeasure over the stalled negotiations. It follows two separate launches of short-range missiles earlier this month that were apparently aimed at pressuring Washington and Seoul.
Talks between Washington and Pyongyang have been at a standstill since February, when a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump broke down over what the Americans described as excessive North Korean demands for sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.
Kim has since declared that the Trump administration has until the end of the year to come up with mutually acceptable terms for a deal.
In a statement carried by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency, the North Korean spokesman accused the U.S. of deliberately causing the collapse of the Trump-Kim meeting with unilateral and impossible demands.
“We hereby make it clear once again that the United States would not be able to move us even an inch with the device it is now weighing in its mind, and the further its mistrust and hostile acts toward the DPRK grow, the fiercer our reaction will be,” the statement said, referring to North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“Unless the United States puts aside the current method of calculation and comes forward with a new method of calculation, the DPRK-U.S. dialogue will never be resumed and by extension, the prospect for resolving the nuclear issue will be much gloomy,” the statement added.
Hmmm, this sounds very much to me like a hard deadline of New Year’s Day, or “Im breaking up with you Donny!”
We could easily find ourselves back to “Little Rocket Man” threatening the nuclear annihilation of the United States and his jilted lover Donald Trump threatening “fire and fury” in retaliation in the new year.
How did American foreign policy ever get this so freaking insane?