Join Jim and Greg as they serve up a double-fisted good martini along with a pair of crazy ones. First, they welcome the Biden administration officially refusing to provide further funding for the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and Jim explains why Biden’s pathetic performance in the Oval Office on Tuesday is a good thing because the American people can see his obvious decline. They also react to CNN’s breathless coverage of Special Counsel Jack Smith going to get a sandwich for lunch and claiming it shows tremendous strength in his prosecution and investigation of Donald Trump. Finally, they try to make sense out of a troubled U.S. soldier in South Korea sprinting across the border and disappearing into North Korea.
Earlier this week, CNN and NBC News both reported that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un was in grave condition and possibly even brain dead. That reporting was soon denied by China and South Korea and the world largely accepted that this was a false alarm.
China and North Korea expert Gordon G. Chang is not so sure. In a conversation with Radio America’s Greg Corombos, Chang says Kim’s absence at major events last week raises serious red flags and explains why it might take awhile before North Korea would ever confirm Kim’s death or incapacitation.
China’s veracity is clearly under a lot of scrutiny these days, but most foreign policy experts see no reason to doubt the South Korean denials of Kim’s dire health. Chang disagrees and tells us why South Korea’s aggressive public relations efforts actually raise more doubts in his mind.
Chang and Corombos then discuss what succession looks like in North Korea, how the U.S. would approach a change at the head of a nuclear nation and more. They also discuss ways China is seeking to exploit the worldwide concerns over the coronavirus.
President Trump is looking for his fourth National Security Adviser in less than three years following the departure of John Bolton on Tuesday, just 18 months after taking the job.
The debate continues as to whether Bolton resigned (as he claims) or whether he was fired, as Trump insists. More importantly, what impact did Bolton have on the Trump administration? Why was the proposed meeting with the Taliban at Camp David the final straw?
Former Pentagon official Jed Babbin believes Bolton was trying to influence Trump in the right direction.
“He was a hard liner and trying to restrain Mr. Trump’s straying off of America’s best interests,” said Babbin, who served as a deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration.
“I would think that a lot of the things you saw, in respect to Iran in particular, with Mr. Trump going ahead with a very hard line against Iran is certainly due to Bolton,” added Babbin.
As mentioned in Trump’s tweets announcing Bolton’s departure, the president and Bolton disagreed about many policies, most recently whether to hold a summit with the Taliban at Camp David. Trump scuttled the meeting after a terrorist attack killed an American service member, but seemed very much in favor of the idea while reports show Bolton adamantly opposed it.
Babbin says the meeting was a “horrid” idea.
“First off, we did not have an agreement. You don’t bring the president in to sign the outline of an agreement, which was apparently Mr. Trump’s idea that he would get together with the Taliban to do,” said Babbin, who also blasted the negotiations with the Taliban to this point.
“Number two, you have to have preconditions to any negotiation really. When (lead U.S. negotiator) Zalmay Khalilzad went in there without first demanding a cease-fire in Afghanistan that lasted more than ten minutes, that was a huge mistake,” said Babbin.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Babbin’s assessment of Trump’s approach to North Korea and what kind of successor to Bolton is likely to emerge. Babbin also explains why it “beats the snot out of me” what the Trump approach to foreign policy actually is.
North Korea demanded $2 million in exchange for the return of a comatose American prisoner, and even though the U.S. never actually paid for his release one of the leading experts on the North Korean threat says President Trump needs to get much tougher on the communist regime and the sooner the better.
On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that North Korea demanded $2 million for the return of Otto Warmbier, the American college student sentenced to hard labor for allegedly stealing a political poster. Warmbier was flown back to the U.S. in 2017. He was in a coma and died just hours later.
Multiple sources insist the U.S. never paid the ransom, but North Korea expert Gordon Chang says this story just confirms the barbaric nature of the Kim Jong-Un regime.
“I think the most important thing is that the North Korean regime is the most horrific on earth. In this case, they brutalized Otto Warmbier and then have the audacity to bill us $2 million for this. This money, of course, will never be paid,” said Chang, author of “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World.”
Chang says this latest revelation is further proof that dealing with Kim is fruitless.
“We will not have satisfactory relations with North Korea on anything – especially nuclear weapons – until there is a new government in North Korea which is democratic,” said Chang.
The news of the ransom demand for Warmbier comes the same week as Kim met face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok. Chang says Kim’s agenda is to coax Russia into into greater investment in North Korea and into backing sanctions relief.
Chang is also frustrated with President Trump for easing sanctions enforcement on North Korea around the time of the first summit in 2018. He says Trump needs to clamp down harder on North Korea and needs to do it now.
“We’ve got to go back to really enforcing those sanctions to the point where North Korea doesn’t get any money. Because if North Korea doesn’t get any money, it’ll realize it has to give up its nukes and missiles,” said Chang.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Chang explain how North Korea is pitting Russia and China against one another, how weak sanctions enforcement is a major threat to the people of South Korea, and what two things North Korea must do before the U.S. should even consider another summit.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America embark on the second half of their six-episode saga known as the 2018 Three Martini Lunch Awards. Today, Jim and Greg offer up their selections for the best political idea, worst political idea, and boldest political tactics for 2018.
Ian Tuttle of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America shake their heads as Ann Coulter cancels her Berkeley speech after officials there make it clear they will not maintain order. They also vent after a liberal judge rules that the federal government cannot withhold funds from localities that flagrantly refuse to obey federal immigration law. And they throw up their hands as CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin is more worried about why senators have to go to the White House to discuss North Korea – than she is about the North Korea threat itself.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton is praising President Trump for ordering a missile strike against a key Syrian airfield in response to Syria’s latest use of chemical weapons against it’s own people, and Bolton says it tells the rest of the world that this administration sees the world much differently than the last one.
“The Obama era in American foreign policy is over and there’s a president in the White House with a very different worldview,” said Bolton, pointing to Obama’s repeated threats of military action in response to using chemical weapons.
He says the Syrians, Russians, and Iranians clearly didn’t expect Trump to act so decisively.
“I think they’re so stunned that Trump acted, given the performance of Obama over the years, saying that that he would view even the movement of chemical weapons as a red line and not enforcing it,” said Bolton.
On Thursday, Trump green-lighted the launch of 59 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles from American ships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The missiles targeted Shayrat Air Base, the installation from which the latest chemical weapons attacks were launched.
Reaction has not fallen along traditional lines. Mainstream Republicans and many liberals are hailing the decision, while some of Trump’s most ardent supporters during the campaign were very critical.
Bolton believes it was the right call.
“Anytime you have an authoritarian regime like this that joins a treaty like the Chemical Weapons Convention, says it will give up these weapons of mass destruction and lies about it and uses the weapons, that is a direct threat to the national security of the United States,” said Bolton.
He is also hopeful that other bad actors around the world will act differently when they see the consequences of Syria’s behavior.
“It’s important around the world that people know that we’re simply not going to tolerate countries entering these treaties and then violating them by using weapons against innocent civilians. I think it’ll have an impact well beyond Syria. I think North Korea and Iran, in particular, should draw a lesson from this. I think China and Russia should as well,” said Bolton.
But is this an isolated strike or the start to a more entangled involvement in the region once again? Bolton says Trump’s actions are unlikely to trigger a slippery slope of U.S. engagement. He also says the region is about to look a bit differently and the U.S. must be positioned well.
“We’re going to defeat ISIS, hopefully in a short period of time, maybe by the end of the year. We need to think ahead to what the Middle East is going to look like post-ISIS and I certainly hope it does not include a Russian airbase at Latakia in Syria, which the Obama administration allowed them to have,” said Bolton.
Bolton says this episode should make it clear that assertions of Trump being a Vladimir Putin stooge were grossly unfounded.
“I think this is very interesting commentary for all those in Washington that basically argued that Trump was a Manchurian candidate with his strings pulled by Moscow. That’s not quite the way this has worked out,” said Bolton.
The timing of the strike played out in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons, but Bolton says launching the mission while the Chinese president is in the U.S. sends a direct message about North Korea as well.
“It was more than an amazing coincidence that President Xi Xinping of China was in Mar-A-Lago with President Trump when he decided on the airstrike against Syria, certainly people have looked at that possibility with respect to North Korea,” said Bolton.
He says there is great urgency for Trump and Xi to act on North Korea as the communist nation’s nuclear program and missile system continue to advance.
“They’re so far advanced toward putting a nuclear device on an intercontinental ballistic missile and hitting targets on the west coast of the United States in the very near future. Some people have estimated that to mean next year,” said Bolton.
Bolton believes the common ground for Trump and Xi would be for the two Koreas to be united again and erase the nuclear menace.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss yet another North Korean missile test, which appears to have been a major flop. They also try to read between the lines of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson 23-word statement in response to the North Korean missile. And they shred Pepsi’s horrible new web ad, apparently designed to appeal to social justice warriors, that ends up as a “Dagwood sandwich of bad” and actually infuriates the Black Lives Matter crowd.
North Korea will pose a nuclear risk to the United States within a few years and stopping the threat means realizing North Korea and Iran are two components of the same threat and getting tough on China is the key to stopping both of them.
Gordon Chang is widely seen as one the world’s leading experts on China and North Korea. He is the author of “The Coming Collapse of China” and “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World.” He says this past weekend’s North Korean test of an intermediate range missile needs to be a call to awareness and to action.
“The North Koreans and the Iranians have been thick as thieves. This is one program conducted in two separate locations. When we add in China’s participation in this, we’ve got to look at this as a whole, not just the separate pieces,” said Chang.
Chang says no further evidence is needed than to note the Iranian missile test which made worldwide headlines last month was actually conducted with a North Korean missile.
Officially, China is condemning the latest North Korean provocation, but Chang says Beijing is is doing that largely to sooth the rest of the world. He says China is notoriously duplicitous when it comes to North Korea.
“The Chinese have consistently been helping the North Koreans develop both nukes and long-range missiles. We see Chinese banks involved in money laundering for North Korea and involved in North Korea’s illicit commerce. Chinese entities have been selling things like uranium hexafluoride and components for the North’s uranium weapons program,” said Chang.
“If Beijing wanted this to stop, it would. It hasn’t been,” added Chang, who says the Chinese are equally deceptive on the diplomatic stage.
“We see China rhetorically supporting sanctions and then turning around and busting them when the world isn’t watching. So I don’t think the Chinese are genuine in what they say in New York (at the United Nations),” said Chang.
North Korean provocations in the past 20 years are often followed by a familiar pattern of condemnation and sanctions. Yet, since the failure to stop North Korea’s nuclear ambitions in the 1990s, little has been effective at getting the regime to change course.
Chang says it’s time to get serious with China.
“One thing we could do is unplug Chinese financial institutions from the global system because of their participation in North Korea’s illicit commerce. That would shock markets but we’ve got to show Beijing that we are serious,” said Chang.
While carrying economic and diplomatic challenges, Chang says the move would gut the nuclear threats emanating from both North Korea and Iran.
“It certainly would but we have not had the political will to do that. But if some American city ends up to be a radioactive slab, it will not do for the president to say, ‘Well, I could have stopped this but I didn’t want to anger the Chinese. We need to anger the Chinese because we need, first of all, to protect our homeland,” said Chang.
Chang says are obvious things China could do to show it was serious about stopping the North Korean nuclear program, but like other efforts, Beijing must be closely monitored.
“If we saw commerce between North Korea and China drop to zero, that would be an indication that Beijing is serious about this. After the next to last sanctions on North Korea, which were in March of last year, there was a brief fall-off in commerce in April and May. After that, everything went back to pre-sanction levels. So that is a pattern,” said Chang.
Chang also advocates the financial strategy against China because it’s clear that softer diplomacy is a massive failure.
“Yes, we’ve had diplomacy intended to disarm the North Koreans but we have not seriously pursued it with the vigor that it requires. That’s why the North Koreans now have nuclear weapons and are on the verge of being able to mate them to their longest-range launchers. Clearly, our diplomacy over the course of decades has failed,” said Chang.
That’s right. Chang says the North Korean missile program is making great strides in recent years, regardless of the failed tests that tend to make headlines.
“When they have a test which fails, they learn a lot, so it’s not necessarily a setback. We know that within 3-5 years, they will be able to have an intercontinental ballistic missile which will be able to reach most of the lower 48 states, and they’ll be able to mate a nuclear weapon to that,” said Chang.
“Right now, they have the launchers. They have the distance. They just don’t have the ability to mate a weapon to a long-range launcher,” said Chang.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America groan as trust issues arise around National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. They also discuss the latest North Korean missile launch and whether there is a good strategy for confronting Kim Jong-Un. And they shake their heads as liberal comedian Sarah Silverman mistakes utility line markings as swastikas, just the latest episode in SJW hysteria.