This Week’s Top 5 Picks in International History and Diplomacy

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Don’t let the Korea summit hype fool you. We’ve been here before.

Max Boot

Washington Post

The meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea was acclaimed as “historic.” The two leaders hugged, “smiled broadly, shook each other’s hand vigorously and toasted each other with glasses of champagne.” Reporters noted that the “opening formalities seemed surprisingly relaxed, exceeding the expectations of many people, including perhaps those of the principals themselves. The South Korean leader said we must “proceed together on a path of reconciliation and cooperation.” The North Korean leader replied that “you will not be disappointed.”

Sound familiar? It should, because the news coverage of the 2000 meeting between South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang parallels the euphoria over Friday’s meeting in Panmunjom between Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Il’s son. If anything, the 2000 meeting produced more tangible results: Not only declarations about ending the Korean War and uniting the two countries, but also concrete steps toward creating a joint South Korean-North Korean industrial park in Kaesong , allow South Korean tourists to visit the North, and to reunify families long divided by the demilitarized zone. Between 1998 and 2008, South Korea provided some $8 billion in economic assistance to North Korea in the hope that all of this aid would create a kinder, gentler regime. Kim Dae-jung won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for his efforts. (Read more)

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This Week’s Top 5 Picks in International History and Diplomacy

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(Image: © AP)

Putin support for Assad paints Russia into a dangerous corner (£)

Kathrin Hille

Financial Times 

Four months ago, Vladimir Putin appeared in firm control of the agenda in Syria: Moscow’s military intervention, the Russian president confidently declared, had accomplished its aim of crushing Isis and all parties needed to move on to a political resolution. But the US-led missile strikes on Syria have underlined the risks Moscow’s staunch support for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad carries, as it pushes Russia into an increasingly dangerous corner and is damaging Moscow’s broader interests, diplomats say. “They cast themselves as the protector of Syria’s sovereignty, the fighters against western schemes to push for regime change and partition that country, but they risk becoming partners with Assad in being international outlaws,” said a diplomat from a European country whose government is usually seen as Russia-friendly. “They are beginning to look like a pariah state, and more and more they are behaving like one.”

In aftermath of the suspected gas attack in Douma that killed dozens of people, US president Donald Trump made a point of criticising Mr Putin, saying Russia, along with Iran, was responsible for backing Mr Assad, while warning there would be a “big price to pay”. (Read more)

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