It’s on. It’s off. It’s on again.
The Korean Summit, including the US, SOKO and NOKO, is scheduled for June 12 in Singapore. Despite all the rhetoric, it was never really cancelled. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’ disclosure that an advance team is still planning to travel to Singapore to “make arrangements” should tell you all you need to know.
I maintain Mr. Trump’s “cancellation” was just a way of posturing, part of the negotiations. It was intended to show Kim that, if Mr. Trump thinks the US is being “played” he is perfectly willing to walk away. As anyone who has negotiated any kind of deal – a house, a car or a business arrangement – knows, the first rule of a successful negotiation is to convince the other side that you are willing to walk away. (Incidentally, Messrs. Obama and Kerry would have been advised to employ that strategy when negotiating the Iran nuke deal. If so, they likely would have gotten a more reasonable deal.)
Anyone paying attention during the presidential campaign would remember Mr. Trump’s constant railing about poor deals made by previous administrations and his claim that he could and would negotiate better ones. This is consistent with his negotiating style. Whether or not one likes Mr. Trump’s politics, there is no doubt that he knows how to negotiate a deal.
I find the Dems’ and the mainstream media’s attitude toward this summit most amusing and disingenuous. Their criticisms have been oxymoronic. Prior to its being announced they were criticizing Mr. Trump for his open hostility toward Kim, i. e. accusing him of antagonizing a leader who was “clearly unbalanced” and who controlled a nuclear arsenal and referring to him derisively as “little rocket man.”
When the summit was first announced they were critical once again. The general theme was Mr. Trump was being “played.” He was being suckered into affording Kim an exalted status he did not deserve. He was creating false hope for SOKO and the US. What made him think he could succeed where others had failed for over 60 years. Mr. Trump, for his part, was consistently even-keeled. His standard assessment of the summit’s prospects has been variations of “we’ll see.” Typically, he would balance the “carrot” of the summit with the “stick” of dire consequences that the US could and would visit upon NOKO if it failed to come to pass. As a footnote, along the way, NOKO unilaterally released three hostages, unharmed, and destroyed at least one of its nuclear sites.
At the Olympics they fawned over Kim’s younger sister, Kim-Yo Jong, as if she were an international celebrity, while, at the same time, being overly critical of Ivanka Trump. They lost sight of the fact that Kim is a blood relative of the leader of one of the most brutal dictatorships in modern times while Ivanka is the daughter of the president. Would the press have been as critical of Chelsea Clinton or Sasha or Malia Obama? I doubt it.
When Mr. Trump announced he was cancelling the summit he was criticized again. One common theme was he had “counted his chickens before they hatched.” The far left harpies on The View gleefully decried that he would no longer be in line for the Nobel Peace Prize. Ha. Ha. Too bad. It was as if these critics were rooting against the US just so that Mr. Trump could fail.
Well, “surprise, surprise” as the late Jim Nabors used to say. Yesterday, SOKO’s Moon Jae-in and NOKO’s Kim Jong In had their own “impromptu” summit meeting, reportedly at Kim’s request. Both leaders announced it was very productive, and they repeated their oft-stated wish for a “nuclear-free Korean peninsula.” Furthermore, they agreed to maintain open lines of communication and meet “frequently,” prospectively. It is clear that both are highly motivated to hold the summit, as scheduled.
Furthermore, NOKO has issued a press release that Kim is ready to talk to Mr. Trump “at any time.” Even Aljazeera, definitely not a pro-US media outlet, had something positive to say, quoting Kim as saying the summit could “end decades of war.”
How can any objective person think a Korean summit is a bad idea? I have always believed that even enemies need to maintain lines of communication. Even at the height of the “Cold War,” for instance, we always had “back channel” communications with Russia. Talking is always better than fighting.
I think it is clear that, at the moment, the leaders of both Koreas, particularly Kim, are highly motivated to work out some kind of deal. Perhaps, Mr. Trump’s tough, no-nonsense stance regarding ISIS, the Iran Deal and other matters has laid the groundwork for Kim’s newfound willingness to talk. Perhaps, China has been pressuring him. Perhaps, conditions in NOKO are more intolerable than we know. In any case, as we know, in life timing is everything. Strike while the iron is hot. Use any cliché you like. Perhaps, now the time is right for peace in Korea.
My message to the Dems and the mainstream media is simply put aside your antagonism for Mr. Trump and support the peace effort. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t criticize Mr. Trump for (1) antagonizing Kim, (2) agreeing to a summit, (3) cancelling the summit, and then (4) reinstating it. Once again, you are on the wrong side of an issue on the eve of an election.
Yes, the summit can still be derailed, or it may not be successful. Lots of things can go wrong. But, for the first time, we have a real chance for peace in Korea. Like Mr. Trump says: “We’ll see.”