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tv   Washington Journal Abraham Denmark  CSPAN  November 4, 2017 2:41pm-3:11pm EDT

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the secretay, service shirt this tweak of the president motorcade being transported to the region. while in asia, the president will be visiting japan, south korea, china, vietnam, and the philippines. for more on the trip, years a portion of today's washington journal. us now is abraham denmark, is the director of the asia program at the wilson center. he is here to discuss the goals and significance of president trump's trip to asia. they do for joining us. briefly explain to our viewers what it is. >> the wilson center is a think tank.l we were created in the 1960's as a memorial to president wilson. we are a public institution focused on research on international affairs. the asia pacific, which goes all the way from afghanistan to hawaii. >> big region. significanceis the
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of this trip to asia for president trump? very significant trip. the stakes are very high. he's going to be addressing a lot of it. it's also going to be a long trip. the white house is saying it's the longest trip by a president to asia in 25 years. he is traveling to five different countries, south korea, japan, china, vietnam, and the philippines. he is addressing a wide variety of different issues, the main ones being north korea and international trade with an is aay of what many see general competition between the united states and china on who's going to be leading the region in the future. the washington journal has the headline to dominate the agenda for the trip saying president trump starts the longest and most anticipated and his first year of an office on saturday.
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pyongyang's desire to be considered a global nuclear the rest of the world's power to undermine that would be the siege of bilateral meeting. is north korea looming over this entire trip? >> absolutely. it will be the top of every meeting, especially for the first few meetings in tokyo. the other key actors in this drama. we have seen in recent years north korea conducting more and more nuclear tests, ballistic missile test, the pace has accelerated, which is pushed it to the top of the agenda. >> talk a little bit about that. what are the potential risks for the president in going over there? we know he is not planning to go -- themilitarized demilitarized zone. are the questions about what might happen if north korea does another test while he is over
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there? what do you see as potential pitfalls? always a risk of north korea provocations and actions. the motto of u.s. forces in korea is fight to fight, because of that ever present threat. the primary pitfalls the president will be facing are mostly political. japanesetokyo, he and prime minister out they are on the same page with these issues, behind then a lot of scenes between president trump and south korean president moon. he initially sought to engage north korea and seems to prefer orientedre engagement approach to north korea. different to president trump's more hard-line approach. although president moon has endorsed president trump's been pushing. and then and beijing there is also seeking to restrain american action as concern about american use of military force.
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there is a lot of concern and pitfalls for the president when he talks about north korea. host: we are talking with abraham denmark, director of the asia program at the wilson center. we are discussing the president's trip to asia, which he left for yesterday. democrats can call (202) 748-8000. republicans, (202) 748-8001. independents, (202) 748-8002. you mentioned the south korean president. in today's paper -- the new york times, it talks a bit about that. it says he won the presidency promising a shift towards dialogue with north korea. he argues sanctions and pressure alone would never persuade north korea. he pledged to say no to the americans if necessary. six months after south korea's
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president returned to the nations -- returned the nations liberals to power, his plans to ease tensions on the peninsula have gone nowhere. president trump is doubled down -- has doubled down on sanctions in the standoff with the north. he dismissed talk to the waste of time and stepped up military drills that rattled the region with threats. talk more about the role of south korea. how do you expect that the play out over this trip? guest: south korea is a very important ally. it hosts 28,500 american service people. it is a treaty ally of the united states. president moon -- i thought it was a good article. he came to power just a few months ago seeking more engagement with north korea. unfortunately for him, president trump was more oriented toward a more hard-line approach. at the same time north korea has
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not been terribly interested in engagement with the south. they are seeking engagement with the united states. there is a difficult position for president moon to be in. he has emphasized despite the theological differences he and president trump are on the same page or committed to maximizing -- are both committed to maximizing pressure for now on north korea. there is certainly a wide gulf. president trump has criticized president moon publicly on twitter for his approach. president moon has expressed a lot of concern about unilateral american military action. in fact saying the united states should coordinate and consult with south korea before launching any sort of military attack against north korea. that is right now one of the main concerns in south korea, that the united states would either intentionally or unintentionally begin a conflict without consulting with south korea first.
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host: linda is on the republican line from williamsburg, virginia. good morning. caller: i'm glad to be able to speak to mr. denmark. my question is how does south korea feel -- host: can you turned on your tv? -- can you turn down your tv? caller: yes. good morning. host: you are on live now. caller: how does south korea feel about the threat -- yes. how does south korea feel about the possibility of japan militarizing? host: talk a little bit about japan and how it plays in well -- in while linda deals with her tv. guest: japan, as you probably
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know, had a very difficult history with korea before and during the second world war, with a lot of terrible human rights abuses. which over the years korea has fought to address and overcome. most recently between japanese prime minister abe and south korean president park. those historical concerns and animosity remain strong and certain parts of the south korean public. yet if you look at public polling, japan pulls quite well in south korea. in south korea, the public is a -- has a better perception of japan than it does of china recently. there is concerned with some people about japan revising its constitution and expanding military power, which is one of the objectives of prime minister abe. it is not a broad and widely
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held view in south korea, rather the view of a certain part. generally there has been efforts more recently to enhance will be -- what we call trilateral military cooperation between the united states, south korea and japan. our militaries could cooperate against a potential north korean threat. host: you were previously deputy assistant secretary of defense for east asia during the obama administration. we are talking about the president's trip to asia where he is en route right now. a very big trip, his first major trip to the region. democrats, (202) 748-8000. republicans, (202) 748-8001. independents, (202) 748-8002. we remind you all you are waiting on the line to listen through your phone and mute your television. let's take a look at national security adviser h.r. mcmaster
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briefing reporters about what to expect from this trip and touching on whether the president's fire and fury rhetoric still stands. [video] reporter: will he be meeting -- will he be meeting with putin on the sidelines and will he be bringing up human rights? h.r. mcmaster: the president will use whatever length which -- language he wants to use. what the president has done is is clarify in all of his statements on north korea, our determination to ensure north korea is unable to threaten our allies and partners and certainly the united states. he has done that with a great deal of clarity in the past and i'm sure he will do that during the trip as well. that has been a great reassurance to our allies and partners and others in the region who are literally under the gun of this regime. reporter: do you expect modulation in the language?
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h.r. mcmaster: i don't think the president modulates his language. have you noticed him do that? he has been very clear about it. i have been aware of the discussions about his -- what is inflammatory is the north korean regime and what they are doing to threaten the world. i think they would be a great -- i think there would be a grave danger if the regime didn't understand our resolve, the president's revolt, to counter north korean aggression. and the president has made it very clear. host: what is your reaction? guest: i think they are speaking about the president's remarks in south korea. he will be addressing the south korean legislature, the national assembly. it's really an opportunity to explain and clarify the administration's approach towards north korea. i think general mcmaster is right. andh korean actions
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statements have been very inflammatory and problematic. is in a difficult position when it comes to north korea. this is not the crisis of his making. this has been a building crisis for decades. unfortunately, especially for president trump, it's come in due during his administration that north korea is in reaching the closer to -- increasingly closer to developing and ip -- icbm. it has been the policy of several administrations the u.s. without accepting north korea capable of striking the united states with nuclear weapons. what i disagree with mcmaster on is that the president's administration has been clear in its approach to north korea. if you look at statements for -- from the president and other senior officials, there have been various endorsements of diplomacy, criticisms of diplomacy, saying the united states seeks regime change in that it does not seek regime change.
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i see this speech in seoul as the key opportunity for him to clarify his position and make the case for time running out and we need to find another way towards denuclearization. host: and he on the independent line from kansas. caller: good morning. how are you? host: go ahead. you are on with abraham denmark. caller: i am sitting back and seeing all this and i'm wondering to myself if it is not just one big trigger to start world war iii and everybody is scared about that. who is to say north korea isn't scared, too. my advice to president trump would be to tread lightly. i will tell you one thing about mutual self assured destruction. it is not mutual. host: what is your reaction to
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the advice? guest: i think he makes a good point. first being that it is a scary situation. the congressional research service recently came out with an analysis saying that a general war on the korean peninsula could lead to the deaths of up to 300,000 people in the first few days. our military leaders have talked about how the conflict on the peninsula would be something to be concerned about. north korea, if you look at what is motivating them, is also concerned about american attempts to undermine their regime. in fact, north korean officials will often refer to saddam hussein in iraq and qaddafi in libya as examples of what happens when a country abandons a nuclear program and cuts a deal with united states.
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a few years later the united states either taxes them or allows the regime to collapse. they see nuclear weapons as essential to preserving their regime, preserving kim jong-un's leadership. the concern is that with nuclear weapons, a north korea would be able to act more aggressively against south korea, against japan, against the international community. demanding withdrawal of american troops, demanding a reduction of sanctions. potentially demanding unification of the korean peninsula. deterrence gets complicated in these scenarios. that is why american presidents for a while have saw to avoid -- sought to avoid the situation we find ourselves in. host: mike from charleston, west virginia. caller: hi. love c-span. thanks for the guests today.
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i lived in japan during the 1980's and south korea during the olympics in 1988. i would like to comment on the historical question, even though we don't live in the cold war anymore. the signatories on the armistice, china was a signatory. i believe they are playing very coy and have been because of their interest in the region. so, could you comment on china's role in brokering an agreement? the other comment i would like to make is america nuclear rise -- nuclear rise to -- american nuclear rise the nuclear -- the korean peninsula. i think the armistice originally said there were no nuclear weapons on the peninsula. when i was in south korea the americans stuck them on -- snuck them on.
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the north koreans may see things in a different light. i'm looking forward to hear in -- to hearing the comment of the expert here. guest: you bring up two very important issues. the role of china on the korean peninsula is absolutely critical. china represents 90% of north korean trade. and has often acted as a defense attorney for north korea. watering down international sanctions and making sure whatever sanctions are placed through the un security council, there is enough loopholes and openings so as to not cause too much economic pain and north -- in north korea and potentially trigger a collapse of the regime, which is one of the things that china is concerned about. i expect this will be the top of president trump's agenda when he meets with chinese president xi
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jinping. recently china has been doing more to put more pressure on north korea. they have been enforcing sanctions more aggressively and allowing stronger sanctions to go through in the un security council. there is more they could be doing. more that the united states will be looking for them to do to maximize that pressure on north korea. you are right. china is essential to any resolution of this issue. it called for what they referred to as a freeze for freeze, in which north korea would freeze the nuclear and missile testing. united states an the south korea would freeze military exercises. washington rejected this because they see these exercises as stabilizing and legal under international law, were north korea's actions are neither stabilizing or legal. china is seeking a diplomatic
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way out of this. in terms of nuclear weapons on the peninsula, north korea did join the nonproliferation treaty before it broke out and started there is a growing discussion in south korea about asking the united states to deploy nuclear weapons to the korean peninsula. there is concern that this reflects diminishing confidence in the american alliance and american extended-deterrence guarantees. there is also concern south korean discussion about american nuclear weapons coming to the peninsula would also be a bit of a stalking horse for south korea developing their own nuclear capabilities, which would be a concern if north korea did develop a credible weapon. the appointed to two very
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difficult challenges that are very much on the front of everybody's minds, here in washington. in today's "wall street journal" opinion page, it ends by saying mr. trump's message should be the u.s., south korea and japan will ramp up military spending and cooperation as long as kim jong-un retains his nukes. the u.s. will consider applying tactical nuclear weapons to the peninsula. they could also challenged china to challenge china more directly in the south china sea and increase contact with taiwan. the u.s. should not want a confrontation with china, but only the cold logic of national interest will change calculations in beijing. do you agree? guest: somewhat. somewhat. there is, i think, a logical piece to enhancing ourselves in
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our ability to defend ourselves and defend our allies. as the north korean threat increases we would naturally do more to enhance our ability to defend ourselves and our allies. towards the end of the obama administration, the united states and south korea made the thad, theto deploy terminal high-altitude air defense system, a missile defense system to the korean peninsula. that is a reflection on efforts to ensure we are able to defend ourselves and our allies. i think it makes perfect sense for the united states to work with its allies to ensure it has what it needs to defend itself. the other part of talking about the south china sea, it becomes complicated and dangerous with china when you start making , -- when you start linking issues together. saying our policy with north , korea is linked with china's actions in the south china sea.
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traditionally we have tried to , deal with these issues individually, but it does speak to a broader issue that is below the surface of this trip. i think it colors every interaction the president will be having, especially in china but also in vietnam in the philippines, which is a a broader competition between the united states and china. south china sea, taiwan, north korea, but also, broader trade issues. so there is a lot to be done. but the main issue is when he , president trump, speaks at to only vietnam, present a vision for what they call an open and free pacific. the future of american trade strategy. these are the things asians will be watching to see whether the american vision for the future of asia. host: independent line from orlando, florida. caller: good morning.
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i just have a comment. i hope cooler heads prevail as as far asnorth -- north korea goes, because millions of lives are at stake. people are talking about world war iii. the world as we know it will end. i hope cooler heads will prevail and we just have to take steps back, and preserve our world for all the human race. that is it. host: william from virginia on the democratic line. caller: how are you doing? good morning. thanks for having me. i would like to say one of the problems we have with our leadership right now, it is somewhat erratic and unstable, which does not help in situations like this. but even a broken clock can be right twice a day. and in a situation like this you have to think not so much what should we do today, by 10 years from now, what will we wish we had done?
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and if we see no stabilization, no indication from north korea that they plan on changing their approach, it may be a better decision to do military action now. which we will undoubtedly win and at a high cost, rather than be forced into a later at a much higher cost. it's an unfortunate decision. host: i want to get abe's response. guest: i think you make a very good point. the military calculations over time don't get easier. there is concerned, i have concern that if north korea believes they will successfully deter us without a nuclear icbm, that they may feel emboldened icbm, to be even more aggressive and problematic. one answers this
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question turns on how you believe a nuclear north korea would act. if you believe deterrence would hold and they would rejoin the community of nations in some way, if you believe we would be able to find some sort of stasis with a nuclear north korea, that does argue for deterrence. but if you are concerned as national security mcmaster once said that north korea is not the deterrable, it does argue for military action now rather than an even worse military scenario in the future. host: i want to get to at least one more call. but first, the "new york times" points out today that vladimir putin will be part of this trip. a second meeting between president vladimir putin of russia and president trump on the sidelines at the asian economic summit next week in vietnam. russianut at how that
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probe, how all that plays into the trip. : there are two pieces to it. the first thing is understanding where political leaders are coming from domestically. prime minister abe from japan is coming off a very resounding electoral victory with his recent election. and president xi is coming very strong after their 19th party congress. yet, president trump is coming to asia with this cloud over his head. and that will certainly affect the dynamics in the room. think, more specifically the president is traveling with , a press corps that will be asking him questions and -- questions at basically every stop. as always happens with these trips, the local japanese press, the korean press, whoever it may be, will be asking about local and regional issues and usually
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the american press will ask about domestic issues. i certainly expect that will include questions about the russian investigation, which is not just specific to president trump, but always frustrating but for the president and his staff who want to stay on message and keep focused on what the are doing internationally. yet the questions about domestic , challenges continue to intercede. host: peter from provincetown, massachusetts, on our independent line. good morning. caller: i talked to c-span and i am enjoying this very much. i have a couple of quick questions. opioid crisis is looming large on the domestic agenda for president trump. i would be curious to see as president trump arrives in beijing, how exactly he is going to insert a discussion about opioids and fentanyl coming out of china in such great quantities to the united states and what is going to be done about that.
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the second thing is the awkward timing. for the very first time, two chinese nationals have been indicted by the u.s. department of justice within the last two concerning their promotion and successful penetration of the american fentanyl markets. this seems to be awkward in its timing. i'm wondering if mr. denmark sees this as a coincidence, or the justice department trying to send its own powerful statement. journal" "wall street reports today the chinese narcotics officials are playing down china's role in distribute -- china's role in distributing this synthetic opioid. guest: it is an awkward position for beijing. they are very hard line against drugs, and in their statements and policies it is also been
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proven difficult for them to enforce these hard-line policies. so i expect this would be high on the president's agenda, to find a way for the u.s. and china to cooperate. it is in their mutual interest of fight the spread of drugs and opioids and fentanyl coming out of china. host: ibrahim denmark. director of the asia program at the wilson center. and you can find out more about the wilson center at wilsoncenter.org. you can follow abe and the wilson center on twitter. thank you so much, for joining us today. on his way to asia, president trump stopped in hawaii where he received a briefing from the u.s. pacific command and spoke to reporters, as well as the commander, harry harris.

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