We can thank South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his negotiators for achieving what the Trump administration has not: an agreement by North Korea to discuss ending its nuclear weapons program.
It was the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un , who actually made the first gesture toward peaceable discussion when he offered to send a delegation to the Olympic games (including some athletes) and proposed a summit meeting with Mr. Moon. South Korea wisely accepted the overture by Kim, while the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence made a point of ignoring the presence of Kim Yo-jong, sister of the North Korean leader, when the two attended the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. To say the least, diplomacy has not been much on the minds of what’s left of the dwindling, imploding Trump administration.
President Trump responded to North Korea’s concession with, of course, a tweet which opined:
Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea. For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned. The World is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!
Note the subtle taking credit for the “serious effort” he claims is being made “by all parties.” As for which direction the U.S. is ready to go hard in, evidence for the direction of peaceable negotiation under Trump is pretty skimpy. Generally, when President Trump has spoken of North Korea or its leader he has resorted to insult and belligerence, infamously threatening to drop “fire and fury” (nuclear weapons?) onto the wayward nation, no doubt killing many innocent civilians, including children.
The great problem for diplomacy emanating from the U.S. at present is the erratic, untrustworthy, military-minded nature of President Trump, along with the gutting and cutting of the State Dept. Meanwhile, the U.S. envoy to North Korea announced his retirement in February, due, reports suggest, to President Trump’s refusing to open talks with North Korea. And the U.S. has had no ambassador to South Korea for more than a year.
It almost appears that the Trump administration prefers North Korean defiance and threats, perhaps to whip up a patriotic distraction that might even culminate in some form of military action against North Korea to boost Trump’s low approval ratings, or so he may hope.
On the bright side, Russia, one of Trump’s favorite nations, has stated it opposes a military solution for disarming the nukes of North Korea. This may be the one thing that will keep the U.S. on a path toward peace for the Korean peninsula.
(Photo credit: Test launch of LGM-118 Peacekeeper Intercontinental ballistic missile by United States Air Force 2002. Photo By United States Air Force [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)