Don’t be Kim Jong Un’s dupe, Mr. Trump – Washington Examiner
In his State of the Union address, President Trump announced that he’d meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un for a second time in Vietnam at the end of February. It’s nearly upon us, and it promises to be highly significant, both for Trump’s presidency and for world history.
With little progress pushing the tyrant to give up nuclear weapons, there’s speculation that this meeting might be less about denuclearization and more about formally ending the Korean War. Trump alluded to as much, talking up “a historic push for peace” and leaving denuclearization unmentioned.
But without real progress on denuclearization, an end to the formal state of war would be a failure for Trump; hostilities ended in 1953. Nevertheless, a peace deal would have many benefits. On one side, it would allow Kim to claim greater legitimacy, pave the way for easing some sanctions, and grant the North leverage to argue that the U.S. and United Nations forces should leave the Korean Peninsula. On the other, a peace deal would make peace in the peninsula less precarious and end Pyongyang’s custom of lobbing missiles over Japan and menacing South Korea with military incursions.
A deal might even help open the closed country. People chuckled at Trump’s pitch to Kim, a video showing the possibilities of a North Korea filled with luxury resorts and foreign investment, but it is not an impossible dream. There is also good, though qualified, news in the fact that Kim seems to be moving against hard-liners and hawks within his regime.
Be all that as it may, North Korea’s leaders have a way of luring well-meaning diplomats deep into talks, only to walk away and return to its warlike posture. Trump must be wary not to hand credibility to Kim and get nothing in return. He will have failed if he does not move Kim on nukes, and he must not let talk of peace overshadow that goal.
Kim has done nothing yet to reduce his nuclear capabilities and seems to have little intention of doing so. He has concealed his weapons and refused to work in good faith with U.S. negotiators, which is all familiar to anyone who has read Pyongyang’s well-thumbed playbook.
Trump can be proud if he gets a peace deal, but only if it is accompanied by nuclear security. If he gets the first and not the second, he will have been duped.