In the Wreckage of the Trump–Kim Summit That Wasn’t

May 24, 2018
Joshua Pollack

The following is an excerpt from the New York Daily News.

The Donald Trump-Kim Jong Un summit has died just as it was born: in a haze of confusion, presidential vanity and indifference to substance.

The open letter to Kim withdrawing from plans for a June 12 meeting in Singapore is vintage Trump, betraying too much of the man. It is openly wistful about the summit-that-wasn’t, calling it “a truly sad moment in history,” based on the airy claim that it would have been “a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth.”

It first misattributes a tough warning from a North Korean foreign ministry official to Kim himself, and then politely invites Kim to “change your mind” in response to Trump’s decision — not Kim’s — to withdraw. And it leaves an ally in the lurch, disregarding the personal appeal of South Korean President Moon Jae-in to see the summit through.

As the North Koreans seem to have understood only too well, there was never an adequate basis for negotiations. Their decision of April 20 to end long-range missile testing and to shutter their nuclear test site — an action carried out just hours before the White House issued Trump’s letter — was presented as their own voluntary decision to contribute to global disarmament, and not part of a bargaining process leading to unilateral disarmament.

Yet Trump administration officials continued to speak as if the United States were in a position to dictate an outcome to the North Koreans. In early May, during Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s second visit to Pyongyang, his host, senior Workers’ Party official Kim Yong Chol, bluntly informed him that North Korea’s new restraint “is not the result of sanctions that have been imposed from outside.” Yet Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton persisted in talking as if North Korea could be compelled to disgorge its nuclear weapons program.

Continue reading at the New York Daily News.

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