In what was perhaps the most surprising announcement to emerge from today’s Trump-Kim summit, president Trump agreed to suspend military exercises with South Korea in return for a commitment to denuclearisation from North Korea.
As we reported earlier, Trump said the war games were expensive and “very provocative”, and yet stopping them has been called a “major concession”, something the US has previously rejected as non-negotiable on the grounds that the exercises are a key element of its military alliance with Seoul, and maintaining a deterrent against North Korea. In return, Trump said Kim had agreed in a joint statement to reassert “his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.
In other words, Trump made it appear that he is negotiating from a position of weakness to achieve a diplomatic goal which would have remained unachievable had Trump not taken the initiative. In doing so, however, he infuriated the neocons in his immediate circle. Immediately after the announcement, the WaPo’s Josh Rogin noted that “Everything Trump is saying and doing goes directly against everything Bolton has ever said or believed about North Korea.”
Everything Trump is saying and doing goes directly against everything Bolton has ever said or believed about North Korea.
— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) June 12, 2018
On the surface, anything that neocon warmonger Bolton hates can only be good.
But it wasn’t just Trump’s closest advisors that were shocked: both the South Korean government and US forces in the region appear to have been taken by surprise by Trump’s declared suspension of joint military exercises.
According to Reuters, US forces in Korea said they had not received updated guidance on military exercises.
“In coordination with our ROK [Republic of Korea] partners, we will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance,” a spokesperson told Reuters.
Trump’s announcement also came as a surprise to the South Korean government. “At this point, we need to know President Trump’s exact meaning or intentions,” according to a statement released by the office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in. “However we think that it is crucial to pursue various solutions for better dialogue.”
The South Korean military appeared similarly taken aback,