Issue 151: 2018 04 26: Armageddon Off…

26 April 2018

Armageddon Off…

or Armageddon On?

By Neil Tidmarsh

Still holding your breath?  Good.  But don’t breathe out – not just yet anyway.  We’re not out of the trees, not by a long shot.

Ok, so North Korea’s presence at the winter Olympics won gold medals in diplomacy for everyone involved; and Kim Jong-un’s visit to President Xi in China was such a success that Beijing actually decided to tell us about it and not to keep it a secret; and CIA director Mike Pompeo (is he secretary of state yet?) visited North Korea and met Kim for talks and established a high level direct line of communication between Washington and Pyongyang; and Kim has apparently dropped the removal of US troops from South Korea as a precondition of talks; and the flourishing bromance between the US president and the French president means that Trump might actually listen to Macron’s sensible suggestions about the nuclear deal with Iran and trade war with China.

But there’s still plenty of room for upset.  President Macron reacted to Trump’s dusting down of his shoulder with admirable sang froid – but will his self-restraint last if Trump puts a hankie to Macron’s nose and tells him to “blow, go on, blow!” or refuses to let him go and watch the Washington Capitals play at the Verizon centre unless he finishes all his homework first?

So when will we be able to breath normally again?  Well, only time will tell.  Here’s a calendar of crucial events coming up in the near future.  Do these dates timetable a countdown to the Apocalypse, or chart a road away from Armageddon?  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Friday 27 April: German chancellor Angela Merkel visits President Trump in Washington.  She, like President Macron, will try to dissuade him from ditching the nuclear deal with Iran.  Will she succeed, or will her efforts prove counter-productive? Their last meeting was not a success.  At least President Trump doesn’t have a dog and so won’t be able to use President Putin’s trick of weaponising his pet in order to discompose the famously canine-phobic Mrs Merkel.

Friday 27 April: President Moon of South Korea and President Kim Jong-un of North Korea meet for a summit at Panmunjom on the border between the two countries.  It will be the first time the two men have met and spoken face to face, and only the third summit between leaders of South and North.  It’s hoped that they’ll issue a formal declaration of peace – the two countries are still technically at war with each other (this wouldn’t in itself officially end the 1950-1953 Korean War – the USA and China would both have to sign a peace treaty as well – but it would remove the biggest obstacle).  The banquet menu has been set; the leaders will be drinking munbaeju, a spirit which is 40% alcohol – is that sensible, given the delicacy of the negotiations?

Saturday May 12: The crucial one – President Trump is due to reconfirm the USA’s support, for the next three months, of the Obama-era deal with Iran which froze its nuclear weapons programme.  Trump is threatening not to sign – he has always opposed the deal, and insists at the very least that inspections by international experts should be more rigorous and that other loop-holes should be closed.  He may refuse to sign, and re-impose sanctions, in an attempt to win concessions from Iran.  That would kill the deal, according to Iran, and free them to re-start their programme.  But Israel insists that it will never allow Iran to become a nuclear power…

Sometime in May/June: The big one – Trump and Kim meet (exact time and place yet to be fixed).  Could this really see the end to confrontation between the two countries, to North Korea’s nuclear programme, to armed confrontation between North and South and to the presence of US troops on the peninsula? Could North Korea really abandon its position as a rogue-state pariah and emerge as a more open and less aggressive country ready to engage constructively with the other nations of the world?  Let’s hope Trump doesn’t flick dandruff from Kim’s shoulder or vice-versa.

Sometime in June: President Xi to visit Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang…

Right, at that point I think we can all start breathing again.  Two months – we can manage that, can’t we?  It’s just a matter of Trump and Macron staying friends, of Merkel getting through to Trump, of President Moon and Kim Jong-un getting on together, of President Trump not killing the Iran deal, of Iran not going off and restarting its nuclear weapons programme, of Israel not being forced to take on Iran, of Trump and Kim Jong-un hitting it off together…

It could be a very good summer indeed, if we’re all still around to enjoy it.



Follow the Shaw Sheet on

It's FREE!

Already get the weekly email?  Please tell your friends what you like best. Just click the X at the top right and use the social media buttons found on every page.

New to our News?

Click to help keep Shaw Sheet free by signing up.Large 600x271 stamp prompting the reader to join the subscription list