Kim Jong Un has said (through South Korean officials) that he is willing to talk to President Trump. That’s an unexpected shock and everyone is wondering why.
The top line bet is that the sanctions are hurting. The NORKs may be bankrupt, isolated, and on the edge of collapse.
The hedge is that Kim is just stalling for time to complete his nuclear folly.
But. . . . Have you noticed that the only fat man in North Korea is the “Dear Leader”, Rocket Man Kim? Everyone around him looks malnourished. We know the general population, those not starving in prison, are starving in their villages.
So is it possible that the sanctions have cut off the Dear Leader’s culinary delicacies?
Nah . . . Just kidding. This is serious business.
President Trump and Kim Jong-un to Meet: Peace in Our Time?
From National Review: By JIM GERAGHTY, March 9, 2018
The good news about President Trump accepting an invitation to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un:
• The North Koreans are willing to stop nuclear testing and test-launching missiles while we’re talking.
• The North Koreans say they’re willing to discuss denuclearization. If they actually mean it, this would be a giant breakthrough, and yes, this is the sort of thing that gets a president a Nobel Peace Prize.
• Our military exercises with the South Koreans will go on as scheduled.
• The term “win-win” gets thrown around too often, but this summit is what both Trump and Kim Jong-un want. Trump wants a bold move that creates a long-term solution to a major foreign-policy problem. He likes surprising critics, and he likes to think of himself as a great dealmaker. Kim Jong-un will be able to boast that his combination of provocations, threats, and outreach brought the president of the United States to the negotiating table.
• Tom Nichols, a pretty intense Trump critic, writes in USA Today that he can envision a milder negotiation victory: “One positive outcome would be if North Korea tries a bait-and-switch, in which they backtrack from denuclearization but agree to halt, indefinitely, all testing and production of an ICBM in exchange for sanctions relief. If the president manages even this much, his gamble might pay off, at least for a while.”
The bad news about Trump and Kim meeting:
• Remember how much we condemned then-senator Barack Obama’s pledge to “meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?” That wasn’t wrong. A meeting with a U.S. president is something a foreign regime wants; when dealing with a hostile regime, we should use that carrot to get a concession. That’s what made the “without precondition” part of Obama’s pledge so dangerous. (He eventually backtracked and said he meant with “preparations,” but not preconditions.)
• Not only is the Trump administration agreeing to a meeting, this administration may very well end up inviting North Korea’s leader to Washington: “By day’s end, dazed White House officials were discussing whether Mr. Trump would invite Mr. Kim to come to the United States. That seemed entirely likely, the senior administration official said, though American officials doubt the North Korean leader would accept.”
• You may recall further back, in 2000, Secretary of State Madeline Albright traveled to Pyongyang to meet Kim Jong-il and declared the Clinton administration no longer considered North Korea to be a “rogue state.” She told an interviewer, “we are now calling these states ‘states of concern.’” That “state of concern was cheating on its nuclear deal all along. In a long history of naïve foreign-policy decisions and deals, the Clinton administration’s approach to North Korea ranks as one of the worst.
• Despite Trump’s perception of himself as the ultimate dealmaker, he’s a terrible negotiator. This is the president who walked into a live, televised White House meeting with congressional leaders on gun control and gave away all of his allies’ priorities and got nothing in return, and then he dismissed the concept of due process and endorsed gun confiscation. When Trump sits down at the negotiating table, absolutely no one knows what concessions he’ll make.
• Nichols points out that the North Koreans love to bait-and-switch and then blame the opposition: “After the summit, Pyongyang will then dig in on further talks. When those talks fail, Kim will blame Trump, leaving the president bewildered and angry. Trump will go back to his insulting ways, which will pave the way for Kim to exit any preliminary agreements. The whole business will fall apart, and North Korea will look like the sure winner: the co-equal of a United States president who has been humbled in front of America’s allies and embarrassed in front of its enemies. The unveiling of a functional, nuclear-armed North Korean ICBM will follow.”
Maybe we should start with the question, “What do we want regarding North Korea?” To eliminate its nuclear program? To topple the regime? To liberate its people? Or is it merely to avoid what would probably be a devastating war?