On ABC’s This Week, former deputy security adviser to President Barack Obama, Ben Rhodes, said President Trump’s negotiations with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un were not a “reality show.” Rhodes is part of a group of about 50 former Obama administration officials who recently formed a think tank called National Security Action to attack the Trump administration’s national security policies.
Rhodes said, “We should all root for the success of diplomacy with North Korea. I think it is right to pursue the diplomatic track given the costs of a war could be hundreds of thousands killed in minutes. I think the questions that we have are about whether he’s equipped to succeed in that diplomacy. He’s declaring victory and nothing has happened yet. We have to see how they approach this.”
Rhodes went on to add, “This is not a real estate deal or a reality show. When you’re in a negotiation as complex as a North Korean nuclear program, and a situation that is volatile as the Korean peninsula, you need diplomats. Don’t hollow out the State Department. “They have no ambassador to Seoul [South Korea],” Rhodes told ABC’s Karl. “Get the professionals in the room to put together a strategy. You need to value science… There needs to be a team of diplomats of scientists and sanction experts. It can’t be a mano-a-mano show.”
“Get a team together. Know what you’re trying to accomplish: Denuclearization is the objective,” Rhodes urged. “The notion that North Korea will agree to give up their weapons in one meeting, I don’t think anybody thinks that’s the case. I welcome diplomacy. It has to be done right. If not, the risk of conflict goes up.”
The mission statement of the anti-Trump think tank is hardly subtle: “National Security Action is dedicated to advancing American global leadership and opposing the reckless policies of the Trump administration that endanger our national security and undermine U.S. strength in the world.” National Security Action plans to pursue typical liberal foreign policy themes such as climate change, challenging President Trump’s leadership, immigration and allegations of corruption between the president and foreign powers.
This think tank uses the acronym NSA, which is ironic. Three of its founding members – Ben Rhodes, Susan Rice and Samantha Power – likely were involved in abusing intelligence from the federal NSA (National Security Agency) to unmask the names of Trump campaign staff from intelligence reports and to leak NSA intercepts to the media to hurt Trump politically. This included a leak to the media of an NSA transcript in February 2017 of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s discussion with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak. No one has been prosecuted for this leak. It is no surprise that this think tank would attack President Trump on proposed North Korean peace negotiations.
North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs surged during the Obama years due to the administration’s “Strategic Patience” policy, an approach designed to kick the problem down the road to the next president. Ben Rhodes is claiming that Obama is rooting for President Trump on diplomatic efforts with North Korea. Many question that statement or the competence with which Rhodes or Obama have to make a statement on the matter. ABC’s Jonathan Karl also chimed in on the upcoming meeting. “Contrary to frankly how we were treated in office, we want a diplomatic track with North Korea to succeed,” Karl said. “That’s in everybody’s interest here. So I think the nation should be rooting for diplomacy to work with North Korea, and I think that’s certainly President Obama’s view.”
The meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-Un is problematic at best. It is conditional on North Korea suspending its illicit missile testing. However, yesterday, Kim restarted their plutonium reactor. It is yet to be seen if this is a deal breaker.
A South Korean official announced outside the West Wing that Pyongyang had extended an invitation to Trump to meet with Kim, adding Kim was “committed to denuclearization.” Rhodes conceded the Obama administration was never the subject of similar entreaties. In fact, talks failed with his administration in 2009. But that is not unusual for North Korea. Instead, Rhodes congratulated South Korean President Moon Jae-In for the role he has played in outreach efforts since coming to power in May. “There never was a time when the diplomatic path emerged,” Rhodes said. “It’s the South Korean president here who has really taken the initiative with this.” This tact with North Korea has been tried before and has failed. Appeasement seems to be a delay tactic for North Korea and is likely the case this time as well.
The Democrats continue to Obstruct the confirmation of hundreds of good and talented people who are needed to run our government…A record in U.S. history. State Department, Ambassadors and many others are being slow walked. Senate must approve NOW!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 11, 2018
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