Gaius Publius: Hillary Clinton Explains Our North Korea, South Korea, China Policy

Yves here. Even though some may try arguing that Hillary Clinton was discussing China’s view of North and South Korea in her Goldman speech, it is naive to think that it is actually different from ours, despite the regular histrionics. As an anonymous reader at DownWithTyranny pointed out:

Again, if you review our (and their) policies since ’50 and think about it for only a minute, you realize both we and the Chinese want a split Korea. And we want it for much the same reasons. The North provides an annoyance to the US which inspires fear and stupidity… AND billions spent on weapons to keep certain sectors rich and occupied.

Now that the south has emerged as an economic and manufacturing behemoth, the need to keep them separate is even more pronounced, for just the reasons enunciated.

By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. GP article archive  here. Originally published at DownWithTyranny

“We don’t want a unified Korean peninsula … We [also] don’t want the North Koreans to cause more trouble than the system can absorb.”

—Hillary Clinton, 2013, speech to Goldman Sachs

Our policy toward North Korea is not what most people think it is. We don’t want the North Koreans to go away. In fact, we like them doing what they’re doing; we just want less of it than they’ve been doing lately. If this sounds confusing, it’s because this policy is unlike what the public has been led to assume. Thanks to something uncovered by WikiLeaks, the American public has a chance to be unconfused about what’s really going on with respect to our policies in Korea.

This piece isn’t intended to criticize that policy; it may be an excellent one. I’m just want to help us understand it better.

Our source for the U.S. government’s actual Korean policy — going back decades really — is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She resigned that position in February 2013, and on June 4, 2013 she gave a speech at Goldman Sachs with Lloyd Blankfein present (perhaps on stage with her) in which she discussed in what sounds like a very frank manner, among many other things, the U.S. policy toward the two Korea and the relationship of that policy to China.

That speech and two others were sent by Tony Carrk of the Clinton campaign to a number of others in the campaign, including John Podesta. WikiLeaks subsequently released that email as part of its release of other Podesta emails (source email with attachments here). In that speech, Clinton spoke confidentially and, I believe, honestly. What she said in that speech, I take her as meaning truthfully. There’s certainly no reason for her to lie to her peers, and in some cases her betters, at Goldman Sachs. The entire speech reads like elites talking with elites in a space reserved just for them.

I’m not trying to impugn Clinton or WikiLeaks by writing this — that’s not my intention at all. I just want to learn from what she has to say — from a position of knowledge — about the real U.S. policy toward North Korea. After all, if Goldman Sachs executives can be told this, it can’t be that big a secret. We should be able to know it as well.

What Clinton’s Speech Tells Us about U.S. Korea Policy

The WikiLeaks tweet is above. The entire speech, contained in the attachment to the email, is here. I’ve reprinted some of the relevant portions below, first quoting Ms. Clinton with some interspersed comments from me. Then, adding some thoughts about what this seems to imply about our approach to and relations with South Korea.

The Korea section of the Goldman Sachs speech starts with a discussion of China, and then Blankfein pivots to Korea. Blankfein’s whole question that leads to the Clinton quote tweeted by WikiLeaks above (my emphasis throughout):

MR. BLANKFEIN: The Japanese — I was more surprised that it wasn’t like that when you think of — all these different things. It’s such a part of who they are, their response to Japan. If you bump into the Filipino fishing boats, then I think you really — while we’re in the neighborhood [i.e., discussing Asia], the Chinese is going to help us or help themselves — what is helping themselves? North Korea? On the one hand they [the Chinese] wouldn’t want — they don’t want to unify Korea, but they can’t really like a nutty nuclear power on their border. What is their interests and what are they going to help us do?

Clinton’s whole answer is reprinted in the WikiLeaks tweet attachment (click through to the tweet and expand the embedded image to read it all). The relevant portions, for my purposes, are printed below. From the rest of her remarks, the context of Blankfein’s question and Clinton’s answer is the threat posed by a North Korean ICBM, not unlike the situation our government faces today.

MS. CLINTON: Well, I think [Chinese] traditional policy has been close to what you’ve described. We don’t want a unified Korean peninsula, because if there were one South Korea would be dominant for the obvious economic and political reasons.

We [also] don’t want the North Koreans to cause more trouble than the system can absorb. So we’ve got a pretty good thing going with the previous North Korean leaders [Kim Il-sung and Kim Jung-il]. And then along comes the new young leader [Kim Jung-un], and he proceeds to insult the Chinese. He refuses to accept delegations coming from them. He engages in all kinds of both public and private rhetoric, which seems to suggest that he is preparing himself to stand against not only the South Koreans and the Japanese and the Americans, but also the Chinese.

Translation — three points:

  • The U.S. prefers that Korea stay divided. If Korea were to unite, South Korea would be in charge, and we don’t want South Korea to become any more powerful than it already is.
  • We also don’t want the trouble North Korea causes South Korea to extend beyond the region. We want it to stay within previously defined bounds.
  • Our arrangement with the two previous North Korean leaders met both of those objectives. North Korea’s new leader, ,Kim Jung-un, is threatening that arrangement.

It appears that China has the same interest in keeping this situation as-is that we do. That is, they want South Korea (and us) to have a Korean adversary, but they don’t want the adversary acting out of acceptable bounds — coloring outside the lines laid down by the Chinese (and the U.S.), as it were. Clinton:

So the new [Chinese] leadership basically calls him [Kim Jung-un] on the carpet. And a high ranking North Korean military official has just finished a visit in Beijing and basically told [him, as a message from the Chinese]: Cut it out. Just stop it. Who do you think you are? And you are dependent on us [the Chinese], and you know it. And we expect you to demonstrate the respect that your father and your grandfather [Kim Jung-il, Kim Il-sung] showed toward us, and there will be a price to pay if you do not.

Now, that looks back to an important connection of what I said before. The biggest supporters of a provocative North Korea has been the PLA [the Chinese People’s Liberation Army]. The deep connections between the military leadership in China and in North Korea has really been the mainstay of the relationship.So now all of a sudden new leadership with Xi and his team, and they’re saying to the North Koreans — and by extension to the PLA — no. It is not acceptable. We don’t need this [trouble] right now. We’ve got other things going on. So you’re going to have to pull back from your provocative actions, start talking to South Koreans again about the free trade zones, the business zones on the border, and get back to regular order and do it quickly.

Now, we don’t care if you occasionally shoot off a missile. That’s good. That upsets the Americans and causes them heartburn, but you can’t keep going down a path that is unpredictable. We don’t like that. That is not acceptable to us.

So I think they’re trying to reign Kim Jong in. I think they’re trying to send a clear message to the North Korean military. They also have a very significant trade relationship with Seoul and they’re trying to reassure Seoul that, you know, we’re now on the case.

Clinton ends with a fourth point:

  • From the U.S. standpoint, the current problem is now on the Chinese to fix.


So they want to keep North Korea within their orbit. They want to keep it predictable in their view. They have made some rather significant statements recently that they would very much like to see the North Koreans pull back from their nuclear program. Because I and everybody else — and I know you had Leon Panetta here this morning. You know, we all have told the Chinese if they continue to develop this missile program and they get an ICBM that has the capacity to carry a small nuclear weapon on it, which is what they’re aiming to do, we cannot abide that. Because they could not only do damage to our treaty allies, namely Japan and South Korea, but they could actually reach Hawaii and the west coast theoretically, and we’re going to ring China with missile defense. We’re going to put more of our fleet in the area.

So China, come on. You either control them or we’re going to have to defend against them.

The four bullets above (three, and then one) give a very clear definition of longstanding U.S. policy toward the two Koreas. I think the only surprise in this, for us civilians, is that the U.S. doesn’t want the Korean peninsula unified. So two questions: Why not? And, do the South Koreans know this? I’ll offer brief answers below.

The “Great Game” In East Asia — Keeping the Korean “Tiger” in Check

South Korea is one of the great emerging nations in East Asia, one of the “Asian tigers,” a manufacturing and economic powerhouse that’s lately been turning into a technological and innovative powerhouse as well.

For example, one of just many, from Forbes:

Why South Korea Will Be The Next Global Hub For Tech Startups

American business has long led the way in high tech density or the proportion of businesses that engage in activities such as Internet software and services, hardware and semiconductors. The US is fertile ground for tech start-ups with access to capital and a culture that celebrates risk taking. Other countries have made their mark on the world stage, competing to be prominent tech and innovation hubs. Israel has been lauded as a start-up nation with several hundred companies getting funded by venture capital each year. A number of these companies are now being acquired by the likes of Apple, Facebook and Google. Finland and Sweden have attracted notice by bringing us Angry Birds and Spotify among others. But a new start-up powerhouse is on the horizon – South Korea. […]

In other words, South Korea has leaped beyond being a country that keeps U.S. tech CEOs wealthy — it’s now taking steps that threaten that wealth itself. And not just in electronics; the biological research field — think cloning — is an area the South Koreans are trying to take a lead in as well.

It’s easy to understand Ms. Clinton’s — and the business-captured American government’s — interest in making sure that the U.S. CEO class isn’t further threatened by a potential doubling of the capacity of the South Korean government and economy. Let them (the Koreans) manufacture to their heart’s content, our policy seems to say; but to threaten our lead in billionaire-producing entrepreneurship … that’s a bridge too far.

Again, this is Clinton speaking, I’m absolutely certain, on behalf of U.S. government policy makers and the elites they serve: We don’t want a unified Korean peninsula, because if there were one, an already-strong South Korea would be dominant for obvious economic reasons.

As to whether the South Koreans know that this is our policy, I’d have to say, very likely yes. After all, if Clinton is saying this to meetings of Goldman Sachs executives, it can’t be that big a secret. It’s just that the South Korea leadership knows better than the North Korean leader how to handle it.

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  1. Harshin like 1989

    Weren’t we scared shitless of the Japanese in the 80s, thinking they were gonna clean our clocks? Try not to get too worked up and overestimate the ability of a conformist society to bury us.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      It’s a lot more complicated than that. You forget that Japan was and is a military protectorate of the US. For instance, in the 1987 crash, the Fed called the Bank of Japan and told it to buy Treasuries. The BoJ told the Japanese banks to comply and they did.

      The US ran the yen up via the Plaza Accords in 1985. Way up. They did succeed in denting Japanese exports to the US but it did squat for increasing US exports to Japan.

      The US also forced rapid bank deregulation on Japan. It was like telling someone who ran a drayage company that they were really in the transportation business, giving them a 747, and telling them to fly it. I had Sumitomo Bank as a client when the deregulation was starting. They were (correctly) considered the best run bank in Japan. They didn’t even have modern asset-liability management adequate to handle traditional retail and wholesale banking, let alone capital markets operations. The Japanese bubble and bust was in no small measure our doing.

      1. Larry

        While I certainly understand all of that about Japan, is it not the same case with South Korea? My understanding is that we have between 25-30,000 troops constantly stationed along the DMZ and within South Korea. I would presume we’re also gladly selling the South Koreans military technology. And let’s say that magically North and South Korea do reunite, what happens then with the Chinese border? Won’t the Koreans still want to remain essentially a military protectorate during what would certainly be a messy reunification period so as to not have to worry about China working to undermine the process? I would say the US would have a major role in shaping how the reunification were to go and do it’s best to keep the billionaire classes happy as can be.

        1. oho

          > I would presume we’re also gladly selling the South Koreans military technology.

          There’s a big govt-sponsored push to develop an indigenous Korean defense/aerospace industry. It’s 0.5 – 1 generation behind the US (on paper), but more than sophisticated enough for export to developing nations.

          >won’t the Koreans still want to remain essentially a military protectorate

          Not necessarily. Koreans don’t view China as an existential threat/rival as US neocons do. China is Korea’s #1 export market. And Korea has no existential threats in its neighborhood (ex. North Korea).

          …historically, the only invaders that came from the North were the Mongols and Khitans (a Manchurian tribe) not Han Chinese. (if i recall correctly)

          1. PlutoniumKun

            The Koreans have a very sophisticated domestic defence industry – and its already started to annoy the US as weapons like the T-50 trainer (a sort of cheap knock-off of the F-16) is attracting sales US companies were hoping for (it might even be in with a chance of winning the competition to supply the US with new supersonic trainers). They’ve a new tank purpose built for fighting in mountainous regions and is probably the best in the world for that role. But most of their weaponry is still US made.

            Korea is the Poland of Asia – a country forever plagued by being sandwiched between two larger, nastier neighbours. In theory they should be friends with Japan, but old wounds haven’t healed, and they are not particularly pro-Chinese historically either. They currently have a very delicate relationship with China – in theory very good, in practice, the Chinese are fond of reminding them of their weaker position, as with the current economic-boycott-in-all-but-name over the siting of THAAD missiles in Korea. I don’t think they would look forward at all to the decisions required if they found themselves sharing a border with China. Like Japan, they find delegating hard geopolitical decisions to the US to be comfortable, it avoids having to face up to hard issues.

          2. carycat

            What is not mentioned is that Japan is a bigger threat in terms of military aggression or economic competition to Korea. Plenty of Koreans still have 1st hand knowledge of how they were treated by invading Japanese troops.

    2. Altandmain

      I would not underestimate Japan like that.

      Eamonn Fingleton is perhaps the best writer about this.

      It is dumb and frankly, quite racist to assume the Japanese are conformist. Many of the top materials sciences areas are now dominated by Japan. The US continues to run a deficit on Japan.

      Oh and Japanese culture has its own following. Pokemon, Japanese anime, and a few things like Sushi are their own inventions.

  2. Mark P.

    Eh. This post is very much ‘Department of Breaking News: Rain is Wet.’

    Two points —

    [1] The bolded quote from Forbes — But a new start-up powerhouse is on the horizon – South Korea. […] — very much understates the situation. For instance, some tech cognoscenti like to talk about the stacks. See forex this book —

    The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty
    By Benjamin H. Bratton

    The stacks are Amazon, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple. There is only one non-American stack and that’s Samsung. That’s not a small deal. South Korea has arrived.

    [2] Gaius Publius claims: ‘It’s easy to understand Ms. Clinton’s — and the business-captured American government’s — interest in making sure that the U.S. CEO class isn’t further threatened by a potential doubling of the capacity of the South Korean government and economy.’

    No. If Mrs. Clinton and the U.S. CEO class are threatened, then the one thing they won’t mind is the re-unification of the two Koreas.

    That’s because conservative estimates are that modernizing North Korea’s economy could cost South Korea at least $500 billion. Per capita GDP in North Korea today is roughly $1,000-$1,200. Whereas South Korea’s per capita GDP is $33,062, according to the World Bank.

    The cost of German reunification was a trifle by comparison.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Mark.

      With regard to reunification and its cost, around the time of Kim Il Sung’s passing and the mass outpouring of grief, it was suggested that the Northerners had psychological issues and were not of a type that could fit into the South’s economy / society, so reunification was best kicked permanently into the long grass.

      This sort of view has often been expressed about Ossis by Wessis in Germany. There is a joke that Wessis would like to rebuild the wall, but higher.

    2. Marco

      If Stuxnet could wreak havoc with Iranian nuclear infrastructure I wonder what strange and delightful memetic goodies our tech-spook chefs could cook up against an Apple rival like Samsung. The Galaxy Note S7 debacle was WEIRD.

      1. Larry

        I don’t think the Galaxy Note fiasco was weird at all. The stories that emerged in the aftermath indicated that Samsung saw a gap to exploit in Apple’s iPhone update cycle and they rushed their product to market with substandard QC. The battery was ultimately under physical stress that destabilized the Li batteries cells and leading to spontaneous combustion. Rushing substandard products to market to grab market isn’t unique to Samsung by any stretch, but to think that America had anything to do with it is just pure speculation that ignores the reported facts.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, I was thinking that too, a fear of a united Korea as some sort of global competitor to the US doesn’t really make sense in the short to medium term. It would certainly take up most of Koreas energies and spare resources at least 10 years to deal with it. And its hard to see how Korea’s big companies would benefit so much, as they already have access to cheap manufacturing zones all over Asia. Anyway, a unified Korea would still be significantly smaller than in terms of population and economy than Japan.

      If the US establishment is really against unification (I have to say, that my interpretation of whats written is that HRC was talking more about China’s views), I’d say it would have more to do with it probably leading to the US having a weaker hold over the Korean peninsula, as a unified Korea would likely pursue a more independent foreign policy.

      1. Bill Smith

        I agree with you that the way HRC was speaking she was giving the Chinese view.

        Our view for opposition would be a unified Korea led by what was North Korea.

      2. John B.

        I agree with you that Clinton was summarizing China’s view, not the U.S. view, when she said, “We don’t want a unified Korean peninsula, because if there were one South Korea would be dominant for the obvious economic and political reasons.” I suspect U.S. strategists would prefer a unified, South-dominated Korea on China’s border, to help contain China better. The Pentagon could hope for even more military sales to a unified Korea pressed right up against China.

        That said, getting from here to there would be so disruptive I doubt any U.S. administration would try to accomplish it. Though with Trump, who knows?

      3. visitor

        it would have more to do with it probably leading to the US having a weaker hold over the Korean peninsula

        South Korea has a technologically advanced economy and a modern army. It increasingly designs and produces its own fighting equipment (e.g. tanks) instead of buying them from, crucially, the USA. In several decades of hard work, it built entire industries that can provide everything that is needed: steel industry, naval yards, automobile industry, electronics, telecommunications, software, etc.

        A reunification would endow the fully up-to-date South Korean army backed by a roaring advanced economy with the one weapon it does not have: the atomic bomb.

        Neither China, nor the USA, nor Japan, nor Russia want that.

        1. joe defiant

          This nails the situation IMHO. Everyone subjected to US imperialism dreams of nuclear power because the bargaining power it gives against US power. The US is doing more to promote other nations gaining nuclear weapons than it is in slowing it.

        2. Bill Smith

          Other countries have had nuclear weapons and given them up. No reason to believe it couldn’t happen in Korea if the South ended up with the whole thing.

        3. Mark P.

          ‘A reunification would endow the fully up-to-date South Korean army backed by a roaring advanced economy with the one weapon it does not have: the atomic bomb.’

          No. The Norkean nukes are simple fission weapons that would provide no real technological or strategic advantage to any future re-unified Republic of both Koreas.

          Despite what you’ve heard, no nation-state that seriously tried to build simple fission weapons ever failed to do so. This includes the likes of South Africa, which dismantled its weapons. Ukraine also gave up its weapons and other countries, like Sweden have curtailed such nuclear bomb programs.

          These countries did this because it’s not clear that in general nukes provide a strategic advantage in international relations, unless you’re in a situation where you’re surrounded by enemies like Israel or Pyongyang.

          Fission weapons are simple once you’ve acquired the enriched uranium and plutonium. How simple can they be? So simple that in the case of the Fat Man device dropped on Nagasaki, the U.S. bomber crew kept the fissile components disassembled till they approached the target because the potential existed otherwise to go critical if there was, say, excessive air turbulence that shook the plane on the way to the target.

          Basically, the Norkeans seem to be at the stage of boosted fission weapons, where (to simplify) some fusion fuel (deuterium) is wrapped around a fission device — what Edward Teller called an “Alarm Clock” type of bomb, and Andrei Sakharov a “Sloika” or “Layer Cake” device. In other words, the Norkeans have gotten no further than pre-1953 U.S. nuclear boosted fission technology — that is, no further than the U.S. sixty-four years ago.

          Not that you want such weapons in Pyongyang’s hands. Also, what makes a difference is that they can access 2017 rocket and computer guidance technology, so they can put these relatively bulky bombs atop rockets. But if you really want serious nuclear warheads of all sizes and capabilities, you need staged fusion devices — H-bomb technology, and it took minds of the caliber of von Neumann and Teller a decade to work out how to make those.

          To sum up: if South Korea wanted to build mere fission weapons of the type that Pyongyang has it could do so immediately. So could Japan and others.

          1. redleg

            (Over)Reliance on electronics makes a first world economy and way of life enormously vulnerable to that old design though EMP.

          2. Science Officer Smirnoff

            — H-bomb technology, and it took minds of the caliber of von Neumann and Teller a decade to work out how to make those.

            Just a footnote: S Ulam should get at least equal billing with Teller. This is a notorious case of not giving credit where credit is due. Or discredit—when the future of humanity is at stake?

            (Is it clear how much v Neumann had a hand in on that key problem?)

            1. Mark P.

              Sorry re. Ulam. I was in a hurry.

              Is it clear how much v Neumann had a hand in on that key problem?

              In the sense that all the other guys ran their maths and theories by von Neumann, and Ulam in particular was best buddies with him. When it came time in 1953, post-Ivy Mike, to do the road show presentation to the U.S. Air Force to tell them that in future H-bombs could be built small enough to make ICBMs feasible, it was von Neumann and Teller who made the presentation.

              Von Neumann also had the clout on the AEC and elsewhere by then to make it happen, too.

  3. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you for this clarification, Yves. Splendid, as always.

    This issue reminds me of attitudes towards Germany in / around 1989 – 90. You may recall Thatcher’s trip / plea to Moscow to prevent unification. France came up with a different way of “containing” Germany… I remember particular comments about the combination of wirtschaftwunder West Germany and what was then considered the Warsaw Pact / Comecon’s best performer, including in intelligence, East Germany. The musings also stretched to sport, West Germany being good at football and East Germany at athletics, and, again, what a pairing that would be.

    With regard to Sumitomo, former colleagues who worked there (in the 1990s) say similar, but don’t mention US interference. Did not Sumitomo and Hawai’i’s Kamehameha, ahem, bail out Goldman Sachs soon after the Tequila crisis?

    1. Kurtismayfield

      German reunification was a threat to the other states of Europe, and history has shown that the threat was real. Look at their economic domination of the EU. I don’t think a unified Korea is a threat to anyone. Perhaps the US laments that it is losing a semi-client state, and they prefer the “let’s bribe the North Koreans every five years” strategy that worked with the previous regime.

      I am surprised that Russia does get more involved; there is a shared border with North Korea. Maybe they don’t care if it is a Chinese client state or a neutral reunified Korea next door.

      1. barefoot charley

        As the great French postwar litterateur/politicien Paul Mauriac said, “I love Germany so much I’m glad there are two of them.”

    2. Susan the other

      From 1919 right up to Germany’s blitz across Europe, Churchill was maneuvering to turn Germany’s aggression eastward. I find it interesting that no one is analyzing Russia’s reaction to NK’s aggressiveness because it could well be that anti-Russian sentiment here in the US has considered turning NK inland, against eastern Siberia. It could also be that NK’s nuclear capabilities are already neutered by Russian jamming technology. But still, the Russian have been very quiet. Allowing the reunification of the Koreas would entail a new constitution and new international treaties and agreements which would all serve to tame NK. It’s just a piddly little state.

  4. jwwz

    Long-term, however, German reunification also provided the new Germany with cheap labor which was used to discipline its own workers and boost exports in order to undercut its neighbors/competitors, something I bet South Korean chaebol wouldn’t mind.

    Reunification also brings into play proliferation issues. The ROK for many years had a nuclear arms program (enriching uranium as recently as 2000), and DPRK tech, however stone age it is in comparison, adds considerable weight to this issue. A reunified Korea with nukes is absolutely not something China or the US wants.

  5. Bill Smith

    Thatcher was concerned that German unification would threaten Gorbachev’s political survival. Page 315, ‘The President, The Pope and The Prime Minister’.

    This is explained in more details in published parts of Horst Telchuk diary (advisor to Helmut Kohl). …make sure democracy takes hold in Eastern Europe before Germany unites…otherwise push back on and or by the Soviet Union…

    Further along in the book it says Mitterrand was passionately opposed to German unification in private but much more circumspect in public.

  6. Dwight

    When Clinton said “We don’t want a unified Korean Peninsula” and “We don’t want the North Koreans to cause more trouble than the system can absorb,” she was speaking as the Chinese, not the U.S. Clinton switched to the third person “the Chinese” in the same paragraph, which may explain the confusion. The U.S. may fear economic competition from a unified Korea, but the main concern of the U.S. is losing a pretext for military bases on China’s (and Russia’s) border.

  7. Quite Likely

    Interesting stuff, but yeah this is pretty obviously Clinton talking about China not wanting a united Korea. Maybe she / other US policymakers have that same preference, but there’s no evidence they do in this speech. It’s obvious why China wouldn’t want a strong American allied Korea on its border. American tech companies being concerned about South Korean competition being more of a threat if they absorbed the North is much less plausible.

    1. tegnost

      ok then what do clinton and goldman sachs want if she’s telling the chinese view? American tech companies, indeed all american companies want to be protected from competition the world over, see the TPP, see ISDS… Clinton defenders seem to be unable to see past her smartly pragmatic views into the fact that she carries water for the aforementioned goldman sachs, who if you haven’t noticed basically run the gov’t for both parties, and what they want is to make the most money with the least risk and they have no qualms about creating conflict, nurturing conflict, and sowing conflict if it means there is an easy competition free path to profit. Couldn’t we just stop with the reading of tea leaves with clinton? All of the parsing about how she said something but that wasn’t what she meant, especially when what she says is power is the most important thing, we don’t care who gets hurt, unless it’s one of us, the acceptable elite, who eat babies with their oatmeal. If you want to tell me what clinton thinks with citations that ould be great, but spare me the malarkey that you know what she didn’t mean in her statements. Probably the main reason she lost is because she and her supporters could not say what she stood for. What does she stand for in this case?

  8. Painter's Drunk


    I think this sort policy – the policy of “Lets you and him fight” has parallels in domestic policy.

    Often referred to as “Wedge ” issues. The center can much more easily control things if the proper buttons are pushed –

    This of any issue – guns, women’s health, welfare, food stamps (SNAP), and so on – the list is long –

    Each side has proponents who can easily be influenced much like Pavlov’s dog, to vote, contribute, and so forth. And these are deliberate manipulations to keep the center in power – nothing more.

    The elites use this power to continue the looting.

    Ask any Congress person.

  9. No Telling

    Enough hate to go around, so no telling.

    Teddy selling Korea to Japan, and hosing over the Czar.

    China & Korea border/sea lane disputes

    In summary, love / hate relationships, but toward the USA it is mostly hate.

  10. Boris Vian

    Good article- thanks for posting this. I don’t fault the strategy here, but I think that our leaders need to do more to be this open with the American public and not just bankers.

  11. neighbor7

    “I’m not trying to impugn . . . WikiLeaks by writing this.”

    To even suggest the possibility, while making use of their tremendous resources, has a hint of the schizophrenia of mainstream media re Wikileaks.

  12. HAL

    This seems like a strained reading of the plain text of the statements:

    Well, I think [Chinese] traditional policy has been close to what you’ve described. We don’t want a unified Korean peninsula, because if there were one South Korea would be dominant for the obvious economic and political reasons.

    The We here clearly refers to China — China doesn’t want a unified Korea because it thinks it would be one big South Korea. This is exactly the sort of groundbreaking revelation that we have all come to expect from Hillary Clinton. Then later on in that same quote, she talks about We don’t mind if you shoot off the occasional missile and that’s good, again, using the same rhetorical technique (where “We” is the PLA).

    Finding basically no support for your thesis in the quotes, you then tack on some nonsense about how the US elites need North Korea because Google is afraid of Naver or whatever. Japan is within missile range, has over 2x as many people and a 50% higher GDP per capita, and seems not to be much of a threat. It just doesn’t make sense that the US as afraid of the competition from a unified Korea, which would have only 25m more people than South Korea, basically all of whom are starving and crazy. Look what it cost Germany to unify, with much less of a disparity.

    There are a lot of reasons why the US might favor a divided Korea: an excuse to maintain a massive military base a few hundred miles from Beijing, or military spending and warmongering generally. But none of them are supported by this primary source, which is just a bland recitation of conventional wisdom, which, along with fealty, is all you get for $250,000.

  13. H. Alexander Ivey

    Well, I’ve seen it all. When people say Hillary meant China when she said “we” and there is no clear indication that “we” doesn’t refer to the USA, when the actions of the last 50 years support the interpretation that “we” means the USA and not China, when “we” as in China would point away from the misdeeds of Hillary as SecState, then I’ve seen it all.

  14. athena

    “We” might mean elite consensus in the US, China, S Korea, and Wall Street. I can see ways a unification would range from “really bad” to “undesirable” for all 4. It would mess up the S Korean economy (and S Korean investments) and be stressful for a generation or two in the peninsula in too many ways to count, China would lose a client state, and from the US POV, the relative “stability”of the region would be put into question. I’d be surprised if leaders from all 4 contingents didn’t get together from time to time to talk about how to collectively deal with N Korea.

    Whoever “we” is, it’s not “we members” of the American peasantry, and it’s not N Korea.

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