And the winner is …. North Korea (at least for now).

North Korea has cunningly outmaneuvered the United States and has achieved another ‘victory’, with strategic implications for the Great Power dynamics of the System, not only on the Korean peninsula, but also at a global stage.

The current volatile politics and dynamics are typical for the stage of development of the current international order.

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I can be mistaken, it seems the North-Korean delegation has difficulty suppressing a broad smile (meeting today).

Through a smart combination of threats, diplomacy, and the exploitation of American vulnerabilities and sensitivities – on full display and magnified by the incoherent and impulsive (re)actions of president Trump – North Korea has cunningly seized the moment and out-maneuvered the Unites States. Today, North-Korea has been welcomed with open arms in Panmunjom, and will send a delegation to the Winter Olympics, next month in South Korea.

At least for now, North Korea – Kim Jong Un – has achieved its strategic objectives: Full sovereignty, protection against (real or perceived) threats from the United states and its allies, and full control over its own population. North Korea’s grand strategy is working and ‘on track’.

Despite the (predictable) efforts of the United States to claim credit for these latest developments, – by (grudgingly) ‘accepting’ direct negotiations between North- and South Korea (is there a choice?), and Trump claiming that he was (of course) the architect of these negotiations – the United States has lost this battle: The threat of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities is still in place, and will further increase during a new period of peaceful negotiations between North- and South Korea.

The United States’ sable-rattling – at a massive scale, during the last year, had a counter-productive effect: It accelerated North-Korea’s efforts to develop and produce nuclear (and other) military capabilities, it demonstrated to the North-Korean population that the US is still a threat – threatening the very existence of North- Korea – and thus (again) legitimized Kim Jong Un as the country’s savior. The effects for the United States are in all respects negative.

Maybe momentarily the United States – through Trump’s strong-arms tactics – still is able to ‘push’ other Security Council members – including China and Russia – to agree with a series of new measures against North Korea; the arrangement has now (as a matter of time) come under threat.

North Korea’s objective with its ‘Winter-Olympic’ initiative, is not only to create time to further develop its (nuclear) capabilities and to have sufficient time to produce sufficient numbers of these new weapons, but also to cause more cracks in the ‘front’ against North Korea, and the crippling embargo the Security Council has imposed. Trump makes it very easy to accomplish this.

China and Russia will consider – as a matter of time – the easing of the embargo against North Korea, not only to appease North Korea, but also to further isolate the United States: America First is not only America’s strategy, but has also become the strategy of China and Russia.

Trump has set the United States on a path of self-destruction; Trump’s narcissistic personality and megalomania – not kept in check by a functioning democracy in the United States – have made the United States an easy target. The question now is how the United States – Trump – will react to its failing strategies, and America’s loss of power and influence (and in case of Trump of an admiring audience) : Bullies have a tendency to destroy what they cannot get.

While Trump is (increasingly) frustrated and obsessed with his (almost) non-existent popularity – his Achilles heel –  North Korea will enjoy the Winter Olympics, and Kim Jung Un his reconfirmation as the savior of his country and the resulting popularity:  ‘Of course’, North Korea is received with the utmost willingness and respect during the negotiations today, and and will be during the Winter Olympics next month: North Korea is a force to be reckoned with.