The Department of Defense announced today that the United States and South Korea are lifting president Trump's suspension of military exercises on the Korean Peninsula, ostensibly in response to faltering negotiations between the US and North Korea.
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis told reporters of the news at the Pentagon about the plans, but also revealed that there wasn't actually a suspension of military exercises in the first place. From the DoD website (bold emphasis ours):
Following the summit between President Donald J. Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, the U.S. and South Korea agreed to suspend several of the largest military exercises “as a good-faith measure,” the secretary said.
Negotiations on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula are on-going and within the realm of the State Department, the secretary said. “We will work very closely, as I said, with the secretary of state, and what he needs done we will certainly do to reinforce his effort,” Mattis said. “But at this time, there is no discussion about further suspensions.”
Smaller military exercises in South Korea continued even after the suspension of the larger exercises, the secretary said. “The reason you've not heard much about them is North Korea could not in any way misinterpret those as somehow breaking faith with the negotiation,” the secretary said. “So the exercises continue. What it means in practical terms is that we're making no changes to the exercise program at this time.”
For close observers of the infamous "North Korea Summit" between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, it became immediately apparent that the talks were little more than a photo op for both men and a foreign vacation for Sean Hannity.
With Trump and Un's extensive history of lying, cheating and dishonoring deals, it was clear the talks couldn't possibly mean anything given neither could be relied upon to uphold their end of the bargain. The agreement produced at the end of the meeting was worth the paper it was written on, and was widely ridiculed by analysts of the region who dismissed it as a giant farce -- something even Fox News conceded. And as we've seen in the wake of the summit, no progress was made -- the US hasn't stopped military exercises with South Korea, and North Korea hasn't made any meaningful steps towards denuclearization.
The DoD's announcement today was really an admission that the much hyped summit was in fact a farce and never had any substance behind it. Trump went into a summit he didn't prepare for and made a deal he didn't understand with a gruesome dictator he knew nothing about. It was a classic Trumpian ploy to create a spectacle then leave the adults to clean up after him. And as we've learned from Mattis, the people around Trump knew all along what was going to happen and didn't bother fulfilling their part of the bargain anyway.
After all of this, we are back to where we started with North Korea. Although it now seems we had never left the starting line anyway.