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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 9-May-2018
9-May-18 News -- European politicians have a lot to learn from North and South Korean leaders, by Loretta Napoleoni

Web Log - May, 2018

9-May-18 News -- European politicians have a lot to learn from North and South Korean leaders, by Loretta Napoleoni

Brexit and other European fiascos in diplomacy

by Loretta Napoleoni

European politicians have a lot to learn from North and South Korean leaders, by Loretta Napoleoni


South Koreans watching tv admire Kim Jong-un's highly fashionable haircut
South Koreans watching tv admire Kim Jong-un's highly fashionable haircut

It is true that the barycenter of the world is moving to the east, not only economically but above all politically. Our politicians would do well to pay attention to how high-level politics is done in the east, since they would learn something. The most recent masterful lesson of international diplomacy comes from the sadly famous demilitarized zone (DMZ), the scar of the cold war that runs along the 38th parallel and which divides the Korean peninsula in two.

The dictator Kim Jong-un, considered crazy and bloody until four months ago, took part in a historic summit in South Korea, still 'enemy' territory, and where neither his father nor his grandfather ever set foot. He did it with all the honors reserved for a great head of state. The South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who has spent the last twenty years to get this meeting, is the country's spokesman. Meanwhile, Kim has used every political strategy, including the diplomacy of the Olympics, to get closer to the common goal: the peace agreement between the two nations.

The peace between these two countries -- which for three thousand years have been a unique geographical and linguistic expression, a single culture, a sovereign nation with the same people -- will open the doors to economic and commercial cooperation. The model will be that of the old European Common Market: exploiting the economic interdependencies and the resources of both to modernize the North and produce well-being throughout the peninsula. The union has the potential to give life to an economy much stronger than Japan's.

North and South, therefore, have common interests that they can pursue jointly. The obstacles are many. First of all, even if both have signed a peace armistice, the two countries are still at war. The People's Republic of North Korea is a buffer state for China, while South Korea is a very important US military base in the Pacific. In short, to get to shake hands on the 38th parallel and plant the tree of peace the two Korean leaders have had to convince Washington and Beijing to let them do it.

Brexit and other European fiascos in diplomacy

If we compare this lesson of international diplomacy with European post-electoral fiascos -- the last nation to prove incapable of forming a government on the basis of electoral results is Italy -- and animosities within the European Union, for example, Brexit, we realize why the axis of the world is moving to the east. To complete the sad picture of the decadence of politics in Europe, there are relations of subjugation with Washington. What about Macron crossing the ocean to present to Trump the European iron will to go ahead with the agreement with Iran and then change his mind twenty four hours after landing? Remarkable is the difference with President Moon (whose wife does not dress Chanel like the first French and American ladies), Moon is a politician of substance, who has clear ideas about the future of his nation, is not a populist.

Of course there is always Angela Merkel who clearly told Trump -- who continued to bomb the world with twitter triumphalists on the Korean summit presented as a creation -- not to trust Kim Jong-un. Yes, Merkel is a clever politician, but she has to play in a team of wives and has no interlocutor to work with seriously.

Here are some forecasts: Trump and Kim will meet, possibly in June. The peace agreement between the two leaders will be endorsed by the White House, at which point they will begin to work at the ceremony for the signing of the treaty, which will take place before November 2018, namely the mid-term US elections.

Trump will be credited with all the glory but will Kim and Moon let him do that? The North Korean dictator seems less inclined than the South Korean president to stroke Trump's ego. But he should be very careful, as the US president may walk away from the summit and Kim and Moon would end up with no deal. But if things go according to plans, Kim will reiterate the commitment to freeze nuclear warheads and details of denuclearization will be postponed to another summit, which will take place in 2019. Meanwhile, North and South Korea will quietly start to cooperate economically, despite international sanctions. Southern investors will therefore have priority access to the process of modernizing the north.

In Europe the bickering on Brexit will not disappear. The tensions between the right-wing populism of Eastern Europe and Brussels will increase, risking the implosion of the whole structure. Italy will most likely revive, but the results will not be better. In short, the scenarios are not at all positive. The last detail: Kim's haircut will continue to be more and more fashionable, while Merkel's will be considered passť.

Loretta Napoleoni is an Italian economist and analyst, and author of the 2018 book, North Korea: The Country We Love To Hate

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-May-18 News -- European politicians have a lot to learn from North and South Korean leaders, by Loretta Napoleoni thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-May-2018) Permanent Link
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