Foreign Fodder

* Arguably more important than what the U.S. says or how it sanctions Nicolas Maduro about the devolving democracy of Venezuela is what others in South American say–and do. It’s, therefore, significant that the South American trade bloc Mercosur has moved to suspend Venezuela for failing to follow democratic norms. Your own continental peers know best.

Mercosur accounts for three quarters of South America’s economic activity. Its combined markets encompass more than 250 million people. It’s likened to the European Union–only four times larger in size. Mercosur’s member states are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Associate states are Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

* North Korea: It will take give-and-take. It always does, even with the quizzically provocative regime of Kim Jong-un. As the world’s pre-eminent nuclear power, with a major share of the world’s 15,000 nuclear weapons, the U.S. is big enough to make a concession without conceding any national security disadvantage.

As important as China is, the key leverage piece is really American troops along the Cold War, trip-wire border of North and South Korea and regular military exercises on the peninsula. To date, these have been off the negotiating table for the U.S., resulting in continued motivation for the North Koreans to keep pushing their nuclear envelope. At some point, this zero-sum scenario could literally go ballistic.

For North Korea, “final victory” means peninsula unification, not hitting Chicago with an ICBM. Maybe that should be the call of Koreans.

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