Worth remembering just what a boondoggle give-away to North Korea the Kaesong Industrial Zone was. 'Detente' it was not:

"Throughout its life cycle until its closure in 2016, the Kaesong complex faced nagging questions - not only about slave labor & unsafe working conditions,

but also about the use of its proceeds to fund Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program...Kaesong provided Pyongyang nearly $100 million a year in hard currency. No one but Kim Jong-un really knew where the money went. The N Korean workers at Kaesong were selected by the regime, had
no rights to strike or bargain for better working conditions, were not permitted to speak to their S Korean managers, and received as little as $2 a month out of $130 a month in “wages” paid to the N Korean government by the S Korean manufacturers who invested there. None of

the managers could say how much the North Korean workers were paid, if at all."

Gross. And apparently re-opening this gimmicky subsidy to NK will promote 'peace.' Um, it won't...

My own take way back: asiansecurityblog.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/was…


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More from @Robert_E_Kelly

29 Sep
Good op-ed from @JRubinBlogger on why the Afghan withdrawal went about as well as can realistically be expected.

The evacuation was planned and moved out more people than expected despite early chaotic imagery.

Most Americans did get out, and the US

gov't warned them for months but can't force people to go

There is no clean exit from a lost war with a brutal, mendacious counter-party like the Taliban. Obviously

The Trump Doha deal set the frame within which Biden operated, and had we violated it,

the Taliban would hit back harshly. A small US force in Afghanistan could not have contained that offensive.

GOP critics knew the deal was Trump's and supported it. So most of the Fox critics about 'leaving our people behind' were bad faith.

The real issue is American

Read 6 tweets
19 Sep
THREAD: Why North Korea would Prefer Leaching Off South Korea to Absorbing It

There is a lot of debate on whether NK still seeks full-blown conquest/absorption of SK.

I am skeptical, bc I think the ruling Kim family are more degenerate gangsters than nationalist ideologues.

They won't seriously risk their rule or material perks for a psychological (nationalist) pay-off. In fact, IMO, both Koreas are de facto status quo states, despite de jure revisionism:

1. Talk is Cheap

So sure, both Koreas talk tough and maintain formal commitments to

unification, but talk is cheap obviously and leaders lie a lot. Unification might be formally retained as an end-goal, but only as a far-off, de rigeur ideal recited ceremonially, rather than actually seriously planned for or built into NK strategy. I could be convinced of the

Read 15 tweets
15 Sep
THREAD: Why there is No Korean Peace Treaty (It wouldn’t Change Anything)

Much of the linked thread is highly contestable:

A. Korea obviously is not a 'forever war'

This is a grossly inaccurate description. 'Forever war' implies sustained kinetic activity in an unwinnable

quagmire with no obvious endpoint. That is not K at all. The war has been over since mid-1953, and it is NK, not the allies, who provokes. The lack of paperwork - a formal peace treaty - has no bearing on the empirical situation on the ground which is far from open conflict.

B. A 'War-Ending Declaration' (종전선언) is a legally bizarre neologism which no one really understands

The only reason this strange language is used is bc the Moon government's first effort to get a 'peace treaty' failed, as did its second, vaguer 'peace regime' effort. So

Read 18 tweets
11 Sep
THREAD: Strategically, 9/11 was a one-off sucker-punch. That’s it.

1. 9/11 did not ‘change everything.’ In fact, it changed surprisingly little

This language was deployed to create political space for a vast expansion of US coercion, especially in the Middle East. If all the

rules have suddenly changed, then all sorts of behavior are suddenly permissible – like domestic spying, torture, and Iraq. But strategically, 9/11 did not change that much: US GDP continued to expand; US military power was scarcely affected; US alliances did not fracture; the

stock market re-opened after a few days and did not crash; gas prices did not spike; the global Islamic revolution Osama Bin Laden hoped this would ignite did not materialize:

2. 9/11’s big change was psychological – our shared national trauma fully

Read 17 tweets
10 Sep
THREAD: Post-'War on Terror' Restraint

If the Afghan withdrawal & 20th anniversary of 9/11 can wind-down our big foot-print 'war on terror' (for a more measured counter-terrorism), here is a quick case for greater restraint:

1. Strategic: Over-Extension

A well-known problem

of empires/hegemonies is too many commitments and too few resources. We should, obviously, avoid such overstretch, & given rising China, US commitments in the Middle East particularly (Afghanistan, e.g.) should be re-considered

2. Domestic/Democratic: Blowback Militarization

The post-9/11 militarization of US foreign policy has come home: in the torture debate (yes, we actually 'debated' torture), domestic surveillance, endemic governmental secrecy, near reverence on military and police issues (just watch Fox for 5 minutes),and the militarization/

Read 6 tweets
25 Aug
The biggest surprise, revelation even, of Afghanistan’s fall is not that the Taliban are bad or that the departure is messy. We knew that already

It’s how belligerent, even militaristic, the American and British media are, how totally captured by blob talking points about the

‘necessity’ that America fight all over the place and that it’s always ‘defeat’ rather than retrenchment or cutting your losses.

Two weeks ago, there was almost no reporting on Afghanistan. Suddenly a few days of inevitability chaotic imagery, and America is abandoning its

responsibilities in a fiasco.

And it was all hawks all the time on-air to comment. No retrenchers or restrainers to place the withdrawal in greater context.

Even in academia, a lot of international relations scholars have deeply soured on the war for more than a decade. But

Read 4 tweets

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