Weekend Roundup: Why New Talks With North Korea Are In The Cards

North Korea?s recent launch of a missile it claims is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead ? and its possible role in intercontinental cyberattacks ? have upped the stakes in what is already arguably the most dangerous global crisis. Paradoxically, Pyongyang?s heightened provocations, combined with the limited arsenal of tenable responses by the international community, are pushing the relevant powers in conflict closer to talking than ever before.

Indeed, U.S. President Donald Trump has said he is willing to talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. South Korea?s newly elected president, Moon Jae-in, also said in his first days in office that he is open to visiting the North under the right circumstances. Yoon Young-Kwan, a former South Korean foreign minister, writes that Moon?s policy is akin to the ?Ostpolitik? approach of former German Chancellor Willy Brandt, which prepared the way for German unification after the end of the Cold War. 

Top Chinese diplomat Fu Ying spells out the urgent realism that is forcing a fresh approach that departs from the sanctions plus ?strategic patience? thinking that has guided the policy of America and its allies in recent years. As I write in my piece summarizing our discussion, ?Madame Fu?s fundamental point is that increased sanctions or threats of military action without talks is precisely what is driving North Korea to intensify its weapons program.? Trying to outsource the problem to China won?t work, in her view, because, as I relay, ?China is not a party to the antagonism and hostility that has caused the security dilemma of North Korea. The country?s deep insecurity comes from its constant fear of the kind of regime change preceded by sanctions that the United States and its allies have executed elsewhere, including in Iraq.?

The best that can be achieved, Madame Fu argues, now appears to be a ?Pareto-optimal? solution. Such a path, I write, recapping her words, ?may not meet the optimal benefits every party seeks but would ensure the minimum interest of all parties with minimal cost. In other words, compromise all around.? To make that work, she explains in a Brookings Institution historical review, action aimed at reducing the present high level of tension must be both ?synchronized and reciprocal.? 

Former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry also soberly warns that military action is unrealistic. ?If the U.S. conducted a preemptive military strike,? he writes, noting that he planned such an option back in 1994 before the North crossed the nuclear threshold, ?it would trigger bloody reprisal attacks on Seoul, quite possibly leading to a second Korean war, this one entailing the use of nuclear weapons.? The only alternative now, he concurs with Fu Ying, is for the U.S. and China to adopt a common approach. ?I believe that there is now an opportunity for creative diplomacy that has not previously existed. This opportunity has opened because China is now more deeply concerned than in the past about the damaging consequences of the North?s nuclear program. … The U.S. could seize this opportunity not by insisting that China should solve the problem, but by working together with China to solve it.?

Conflict scholar David Cortright agrees with Fu Ying that ?the leaders of North Korea will not give up the bomb until they feel more secure.? To reach that end, he argues that, as with Iran, the U.S. should promise ?to lift sanctions and renew trade in exchange for nuclear restrictions.?

Writing from Seoul, Seok-Hyun Hong, the publisher of one of South Korea?s largest newspapers who spoke with President Trump this week as President Moon?s envoy, says ?time is running out for my country? and that ?South Korea must prevent a war at any cost.? He then lays out a two-stage roadmap for Trump to draw back from the brink. In the first stage, North Korea would agree to stop development of nuclear arms and missiles at the current level. On that basis, a new dialogue or negotiations would start with Pyongyang in stage two. ?Donald Trump,? he writes, ?may be the U.S. president who can turn the tables in the region to transform troubles and threats into opportunity and bring us closer to resolving the North Korean issue. But this will only be possible if he stops to think and channel his aggression into a concrete plan such as the one I have suggested.?

The urgency of the North Korean crisis masks the historical significance of another longer-term development underway of worldwide significance ? China taking the lead as the champion of the next stage of globalization. In his speech at the recently concluded Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, senior Chinese strategist Zheng Bijian notes that, according to International Monetary Fund projections, by 2018, the developing world could comprise 59 percent of the global economy, compared to the 41 percent of the advanced nations. ?The global economy as a whole, driven by the developing world, will continue to gather new momentum for growth in the second, third and fourth decades of this century,? he asserts. ?The more rapid growth in the developing economies will in turn stimulate renewed growth in the developed world by becoming an even larger market for its goods and services. The new phase of globalization will thus be a reverse from the past in which the developed world was the growth engine.? The whole idea of China?s ?One Belt, One Road? initiative for infrastructure investment, says Zheng, is to tie together maritime and inland trading routes, thus boosting the prospect of greater prosperity across Eurasia to Africa.

European participants at the forum, however, had their doubts. ?The [European Union] has dealt a blow to Chinese President Xi Jinping?s bid to lead a global infrastructure revolution,? The Guardian reports this week, ?after its members refused to endorse part of the multi-billion-dollar plan because it did not include commitments to social and environmental sustainability and transparency.? 

In an interview, Singapore?s Kishore Mahbubani underscores the non-Western perspective on the fate of globalization expressed by Zheng. ?Globalization has not failed,? he says. ?All discussions on globalization are distorted because Western analysts focus on the roughly 15 percent of the world?s population who live in the West. They ignore the 85 percent who are the rest. The last 30 years of human history have been the best 30 years that the rest have enjoyed. Why? The answer is globalization.? The perception in the advanced economies that globalization has failed is due to a simple fact, according to Mahbubani: ?Western elites who enjoyed the fruits of globalization did not share them with their Western masses.?

Other highlights in The WorldPost this week include:

For more on Somalia?s drought, check out our WorldPost video, adapted from this week?s op-ed, ?Somalia Is On The Brink Of Famine, And Time Is Running Out,? below:

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Kesha Says ‘Taking The Time To Work On Yourself Requires Bravery’

Kesha has been through quite a bit: She says she was ?sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally? abused by her producer Dr. Luke for years, and she was subsequently caught in an ugly and public court battle. All the while she struggled with a debilitating eating disorder.

In a recent essay for Teen Vogue, Kesha wrote about self-care, happiness and how she overcame that eating disorder ? and it?s so powerful. 

The singer-songwriter discussed how the bullying she experienced as a kid is nowhere near the body-shaming and slut-shaming young girls face today with the internet so readily available. 

?I know from personal experience how comments can mess up somebody?s self-confidence and sense of self-worth,? Kesha wrote. ?I have felt so unlovable after reading cruel words written by strangers who don?t know a thing about me.?

Remember that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. And that no one can take the magic you make.

She added that when she compared herself to others and saw herself in tabloids, it became a vicious cycle that would feed her anxiety and depression. 

?Seeing paparazzi photos of myself and the accompanying catty commentary fueled my eating disorder,? Kesha wrote. ?The sick irony was that when I was at some of the lowest points in my life, I kept hearing how much better I looked. I knew I was destroying my body with my eating disorder, but the message I was getting was that I was doing great.?

The last couple of years, however, Kesha?s learned a lot about the importance of self-care. ?I?ve realized that once you take the step to help yourself, you?re going to be so happy you did,? she wrote. ?Taking the time to work on yourself requires bravery.? 

The takeaway? Don?t be ashamed of your struggle. 

?With this essay, I want to pass along the message to anyone who struggles with an eating disorder, or depression, or anxiety, or anything else, that if you have physical or emotional scars, don?t be ashamed of them, because they are part of you,? Kesha wrote. ?Remember that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. And that no one can take the magic you make.?

Head over to Teen Vogue to read Kesha?s full essay. 

If you?re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Trump Asked Comey When Feds Would Say He Wasn’t Under Investigation

President Donald Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey in a phone call when federal authorities would publicly announce the president wasn?t under suspicion in the bureau?s investigation of possible Trump campaign ties to Russia, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Two people briefed on the call told the newspaper it took place just weeks after Trump?s inauguration. Comey declined to answer the question.

Trump?s inquiry to the FBI director was one of several instances in which his administration directly asked about the FBI probe into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the presidential election.

In February, senior White House officials confirmed that Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to publicly dispute reports of communications between Trump campaign officials and Russia. 

This week, The New York Times reported that Comey wrote in a February memo that the president had asked him to drop the bureau?s investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired after he failed to disclose communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Benjamin Wittes, a friend of Comey and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, was quoted by the Times in Thursday?s article saying that Comey was deeply concerned by the administration?s requests. 

?Comey spent a great deal of energy doing what he alternately described as ?training? the White House that officials had to go through the Justice Department and ?reestablishing? normal hands-off White House-Bureau relations,? Wittes wrote on the Lawfare blog, of which he is the editor-in-chief, after the Times article was published.

?Comey understood Trump?s people as having neither knowledge of nor respect for the independence of the law enforcement function,? Wittes added. ?And he saw it as an ongoing task on his part to protect the rest of the Bureau from improper contacts and interferences from a group of people he did not regard as honorable.?

The Justice Department has long sought to keep an appropriate distance from the White House. A 2009 memo from then-Attorney General Eric Holder set guidelines about interactions, noting the DOJ would only advise the administration ?concerning pending or contemplated criminal or civil investigations when ? but only when ? it is important for the performance of the President?s duties and appropriate from a law enforcement perspective.?

Trump abruptly fired Comey last week, and included an unusual passage in his dismissal letter saying he ?greatly? appreciated Comey informing him ?on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation.? Trump reiterated that point in an interview with NBC News? Lester Holt the next day, claiming the director told him there was no such investigation ? once over dinner and twice on the phone

One day later, reports surfaced about a dinner in which Trump asked Comey for his loyalty. Comey reportedly declined to make such a pledge. 

According to Wittes, Comey was deeply unsettled with Trump?s attempts at rapprochement, and told the story of a White House ceremony days after Trump took office that Comey was invited to attend. The FBI director didn?t feel comfortable attending, and tried to ?blend in with the curtains in the back of the room,? Wittes wrote. But the president saw him and drew him in for an awkward hug.

Trump initially cited Comey?s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation for the firing, but later said he had considered the ongoing Russia probe before giving Comey the boot.

?I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it,? Trump told NBC News. ?And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ?You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it?s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election.??

Amid growing questions over the firing, and calls for an independent investigation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election. 

Rosenstein said he appointed Mueller so the American people will have ?full confidence? in the outcome of the investigation.

Trump on Thursday said the appointment ?hurts our country terribly? and called the Russia probe a ?witch hunt.?

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