Kim’s charm offensive and the ROK’s support for it are at cross purposes but I think the reason it is happening at all is that China no longer sees a need for the DPRK to be a buffer against the west, which would make the DPRK a disposable commodity if it were not for the fact that countries like North Korea, Pakistan, and even the Philippines are wonderfully placed to confuse US goals (which vary with elections and vary with the interests of big business) while China takes the long view. Kim Jong Un understands that he needs to find a sweet spot between the US and China before one or the other gets tired of him and cozying up to the ROK fits the bill. Of course, refilling his wallet in the process is probably the main goal.
It isn’t likely that any American home has much in it that was actually manufactured in the US. China has encouraged US manufacturing and heavy industry to be sent offshore and China does most of the heavy lifting as well as holding most of the US foreign debt. So the US ideas of punishing China in a trade war or protecting Taiwan are irrational – as is the concept of regaining Crimea, which we effectively purchased from Ukraine in order to build a NATO base to contain Russia, or thinking that Turkey would be a doormat for blockading the Black Sea.
We have almost no on-shore core manufacturing capabilities left and no strategic or energy reserves. China has almost all of the remaining rare earth elements on earth. If someone popped an EMP device 400km over Kansas, our power grid would be taken out for years if not decades and the only country in the world which has the manufacturing capacity to replace all of those burned out generators and power stations if they wanted to is…yep…China. But we can’t pay for it so I’m not sure why they would bother.
In point of fact, every country which has attempted to thwart the US to date, from the Spanish-American war through the banana wars and right through to countries which attempted to replace the Petrodollar (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria ….) have had ‘regime changes’ enforced upon them. Only now, with the BRICS nations coming of age is the Petrodollar going to dim. When it does, the US will be in serious trouble.
More than that, we have a huge military and over a thousand global bases, but none of it is effective. Our values have shifted from fighting wars to political correctness, putting out brushfires, drugs, Internet gaming, reality TV (I don’t have a TV) and terrorizing ourselves with the spectre of terrorism. Within five years our combat air arm will be obsolete because we have wasted huge amounts of borrowed money on failed concepts like the F-35 (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-went-wrong-with-the-f-35-lockheed-martins-joint-strike-fighter/) and Littoral combat ships which can never be used in combat and spend most of their time being towed to maintenance docks – and we have no viable replacements in the works. We are now solely dependent upon our nuclear missile forces which are themselves obsolete or nearly so.
You cannot find a retail clerk at all anymore or, if you do, they are not competent to do their job. But it’s not just clerks. It’s almost everyone in every profession as well as in government. I hate to point at post-millennials (Generation Z), but most of them are as dumb as fence posts and if the power went out for a few months and they had no computer or phone, they would all go insane. Good luck trying to find a recent college graduate anymore who can find any country on a map, or even their own state Capitol or ever heard of classes like ‘civics’, ‘geography’ or ‘history’…or the Pledge of Allegiance…or believe that their sworn oath actually means anything. Your physician has a patient load of ~3,500 people. He (or she) has no clue what is wrong with you and doesn’t care. They g=have 20 minutes to get you in and out. So if blood tests don’t identify the problem, you’ll be referred to a ‘specialist’ who doesn’t care either, or simply ignored.
Two weeks ago Saturday everyone in Hawaii got a phone alert from Civil Defense: “Incoming missile threat to Hawaii. Take cover immediately. This is not a drill.”. Almost everyone was so completely clueless that they believed it and widespread panic ensued. And then it took half an hour for them to retract it but by then the damage had been done. Naturally, no one will get fired and the next time they do it everyone will panic again, mostly because they watch Dancing With The Stars instead of reading Nightwatch.
The reason for this nonsense is that we have the best government money can buy. So we are given ridiculous choices..between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton for instance…I voted for Trump and before him Obama for the same reason everyone else did – to break the Clinton dynasty. I actually haven’t voted FOR anyone since JFK was killed. But none of our elected officials are statesmen anymore and none of their advisors, staff or families have ever lived in the real world. And who will we get next time? Probably Oprah Winfrey.
By the way, I’m losing a pound of weight a week, not intentionally. For the first five or six months I didn’t think it was a serious problem, but now I’m becoming cadaveric and I assume it’s going to be terminal within a few more months. I don’t care. I blew through my ‘use by’ date years ago.