As North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the United States President Donald Trump prepare to meet, the world is feeling the tension. It is not clear that either of the two fully understands what is at stake.
Trump went around last month tweeting that North Korea had agreed to denuclearization. “Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed…Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!”
“We should all root for a diplomatic solution to the decades’ long North Korean conflict,” Chuck Schumer said April 18 on the Senate floor. “That’s why the United States should pursue a diplomatic opening, including through direct diplomacy with Pyongyang. But thus far we’ve not seen any indication that North Korea is willing to take concrete measures towards denuclearization.”
Nor will we, in the opinion of this Millennial Democrats contributor.
The only place that smooth meeting happened was in Trump’s mind. North Korea agreed to no such thing. They talked about it. That’s all. A conversation is a long way from a signed agreement.
For decades, the international community has tried to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile development. It has failed. The thought of Trump pulling it off is absurd.
Kim is never giving up his nukes. He will nuke himself before he gives up his nukes. He nuked his own backyard and ruined the mountain above the facility where he makes his nukes, rather than stop testing.
Nuclear weapons are the one sure insurance plan that a small power can have against a great one. The world was watching when George W. Bush kicked down the door of Saddam Hussein’s palace.
Kim knows we’ll do the same to him anytime we get a chance. He’ll never let that happen.
In related news, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew home from North Korea yesterday with three U.S. citizens who had been detained there. We welcome them home and are grateful for their safety; Kim snatched them under dubious circumstances and gave them back like bargaining chips.
To the unpleasant occupant of the Oval Office, who has been going around boasting that he’s cut the big deal of a lifetime, that must pass for a denuclearization agreement.
“People never thought you were going to have a situation where we’re having serious and positive communications with North Korea. And we are,” Donald Trump told reporters yesterday morning.
On the contrary, this has been tried again and again. We have engaged in on-and-off nuclear negotiations with North Korea since the end of the Cold War. They failed to prevent Pyongyang from developing nuclear weapons. We have not established diplomatic relations, and a peace treaty ending the Korean War has not been signed.
We did have a serious, positive denuclearization deal with Iran, though. Trump scuttled it earlier this month. So much for bargaining skill.
Kim gave those people back because it put on a good show. His goal here is to get us to relieve the sanctions that are crippling his economy again for a while. His father did the same to Bill Clinton and to George W. Bush after him. It is not the brilliance of Trump diplomacy that has suddenly brought them to the table.
This reticent and peculiar country has promised disarmament more than once, only to backtrack on its commitments. It has duped multiple U.S. presidential administrations, each of which has passed the North Korea problem onto the next.
That pattern is likely being repeated.
Going forward, the usual task of raising awareness will fall on us, since conservative talk radio is already gloating and spinning this up as a Trump win. Regardless of his boasting, Trump did not accomplish anything here. He’s spinning his wheels like every single other American president has done.
The difference is that during the tenure of past presidents, North Korea did not have the hydrogen bomb. Those presidents were not maniacs, hanging around on Twitter deriding the size of the North Korean leader’s buttons and calling him Little Rocket Man.
It’s a complex situation, and a lot of different things might happen, but at least one thing is for sure. If anything good does happen here, it won’t be the fault of Donald Trump.