I’m going to dispense with my usual warmup and verbal mockery of trump for this one, because maybe he’ll get this one right in the end. To be honest, I don’t care how we achieve peace or who gets us there, as long as the job gets done.
So to begin, I am always in favor of changing the math in any equation. We have been trying to isolate North Korea for decades, ever since the Korean War ended (although it technically is just an armistice, not a peace treaty). Since nothing has really changed, except North Korea is getting
We’ve also been conducting military exercises with South Korea, and elsewhere in the world, we’ve been throwing our particularly insane form of soft imperialism all over the place (from Vietnam to the perpetual War on Terror). The result is that we’re known for declaring someone an enemy and then blowing up some of a country to force regime change, especially post-9/11 (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen). (Not surprisingly, there’s a whole Wikipedia post that lists it all.) Post-WWII, our foreign policy has been nothing but dicking with other countries.
Add to that the actions trump has taken so far. He’s been feuding with Mexico over the stupid border wall, is talking about scrapping NAFTA and other trade agreements. He generally insults and berates his allies. He took the Iran nuclear deal and flushed that unilaterally. He’s been verbally punching the Chinese for a while now. Then there’s the tariff debacle. And up until these negotiations got serious, he was blathering on Twitter about nuking North Korea (or whatever, I actually block his tweets so as to remain less stupid).
If you were Kim Jong-Un, would you really trust the US or trump?
This is not to say I’m taking Kimmy’s side. He’s a despotic tin-horn dictator who, like his father and grandfather before, tortures, abuses, and kills his people on a daily basis, while trying to prove he can hang with the big dogs by waving a nuclear dick. It’s a tiny nuclear dick, but size doesn’t matter; it’s how you use it. (Seriously, you didn’t think I’d not slip in a dick joke somewhere, did you?)
So for us, the purpose of the summit was to get some ground on denuclearization, and go from there. For Kim, he wants the photo op which equals international recognition, concessions from the US on the military exercises, and a lifting of the sanctions.
So before we go down the scorecard, let me reiterate a point: Any change that advances the cause of peace is something I’d score as a win (even if it’s miniscule).
North Korea got a promise that the US would stop the joint military exercises. Additionally, Kim got treated like the leader of one of the nations of the world and got his photo op.
The United states got a fuzzy promise (similar to others made before) to denuclearize, with no specifics or clear timetable, and dick all else.
The state of North Korea’s people was skipped altogether, so the human rights nightmare is unchanged.
I’ll let the pundits fight it out whether trump was a magnificent and strong leader who made historic peace, or was a weak fool who gave the evil North Korea everything they could hope for in exchange for nothing. I’ve already seen both arguments, and it’s too damned soon to be sure of anything.
I personally will count this as a win, because, as I pointed out above, the equation has changed, in that the two leaders met and talked. And as much as I despise him, trump does know how to read and charm people when he wants to. It’s the skill that got him where he is. And he might be able to at least open the doors of the hermit kingdom a little.
Now this has been compared to other meetings of formerly antagonistic leaders (Nixon and Mao, Reagan and Gorbachev, etc). It’s too soon to say this is one of those. But talking (rather than pointing guns) has had a great effect for achieving peace and opening the way for more relations. I remember a documentary about Reagan’s multiple meetings with Gorbachev, which started sour after Reagan’s early bluster and eventually changed both men for the better. That’s my hope here. It probably won’t mean freedom for North Korea in the next decade at least. But it’s a step.
And in diplomacy, any step in the right direction is a good thing.
Also, unrelated to everything I’ve said above, I want to see trump succeed here just so he is rightly eligible for the Nobel Peace Prize (AKA the Nobel Attendance Award for when they gave it to Obama for getting elected). As much as I can’t stand him, the nevertrump #resistance is too often as stupid as trump, and I want to watch their heads explode. here’s a visual of what that might look like: