Friday, June 1, 2018

Trump Plays Hardball with North Korea

‘Twas only last week that establishment foreign policy experts were howling in derision at the letter that President Trump sent to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Retired English teachers were declaring it to be grammatically incorrect. Not a single one of them, I suspect, saw that the famous book title "The Audacity of Hope" was wildly agrammatical. Anyway, other more charitable souls declared that the Trump letter felt and sounded personal. As though he had written it himself. Trump was extending a hand of friendship... and putting China on notice, I suspect.

What a difference a week makes.

Over at the Atlantic, Uri Friedman gets it:

When Trump initially canceled the summit by sending Kim Jong Un a remarkably personal letter, in which the president both threatened nuclear war and urged North Korea’s leader to “please … call me or write,” critics called it “an example of really bad letter-writing” that would “surely be studied in diplomatic academies everywhere” and likened it to “a 13-year-old’s stream of consciousness in a breakup letter from overnight camp.” But even if you accept those criticisms, one of the lessons of the past week is that sometimes it takes a really bad breakup letter to revive nuclear negotiations with North Korea.

Or, as I put it a week ago, the game isn’t over until it’s over. I cautioned against jumping to conclusions based on a single move in a complex game, and I maintain my caution. I will tell you, for my part, that I am encouraged by recent developments and am especially pleased that Sec. of State Mike Pompeo is leading the negotiations.

Naturally, those who declared that Trump’s letter was a sign of advanced untreatable psychopathology failed to recognize that the president was responding to series of moves by the North Koreans.

Friedman explains:

In the days before Trump regretfully called it off with Kim, North Korea was calling the U.S. vice president and national-security adviser all sorts of ugly names, proclaiming itself a “nuclear weapon state,” and warning that it might withdraw from the summit because of U.S.-South Korea military exercises and U.S. demands that North Korea fully and expeditiously dismantle its nuclear program. With Trump due to meet Kim in just a few weeks, the North Koreans hadn’t shown up for a planning meeting in Singapore and, in the words of one senior White House official, had responded to U.S. overtures with “radio silence.”

A proportionate response to some very undiplomatic behavior from North Korea. This does not absolve John Bolton and Mike Pence for their ill-considered reference to Libya.

Anyway, Friedman explains that Trump is not playing by the standard playbook. And that it seems to be advancing. I have long suspected that he made a deal with China’s president Xi Jinping to move the talks along. We might never know about that.

As for what is going to happen, I can only say: Stay tuned.


Sam L. said...

Trump's not playing hardball, he's playing REALLY HARD ball. Like the old farmer's mule, gotta whack 'im in the head to get his attention.

Sam L. said...

Ya wanna play in the Big Leagues, Kim? Well, I'm the BIG LEAGUE.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Leverage. It’s a remarkable thing. Easily discovered...if your eyes are open.

Anyone hazard to guess what international relations classes are going to focus on 10 years from now?

My goodness, they can’t get their heads out of their asses for 5 minutes.

They point to Galileo in his remarkable courageous stand against the most powerful institution of his age. But they can’t question their low-level boss called [INSERT TITLE] about basic stuff they have “deeply-held” convictions about?

It’s absolutely laughable!!!

alizybeth said...

And the bible certainly doesn't say I need them the way society does! I do wish our culture did community in the seamless way you describe. Tim's answer is to get all our friends and live in a commune... Oh wait. Nothing cultish about that. ;)
Glad you have all the support you do! My takeaway is to ACCEPT help when others o read full review