I doubt that any sensible, objective observer expected North Korea to denuclearize in response to President Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un. However, there was some reason to hope for a modicum of cooperation between the U.S. and North Korea on other issues, though such cooperation was hardly assured.
As things stand now, there seems to be precious little cooperation and, of course, no movement towards denuclearization. The Washington Post reports:
When he emerged from his summit with Kim Jong Un last month, President Trump triumphantly declared that North Korea no longer posed a nuclear threat and that one of the world’s most intractable geopolitical crises had been “largely solved.”
But in the days and weeks since then, U.S. negotiators have faced stiff resistance from a North Korean team practiced in the art of delay and obfuscation.
Diplomats say the North Koreans have canceled follow-up meetings, demanded more money and failed to maintain basic communications, even as the once-isolated regime’s engagements with China and South Korea flourish.
That’s not all:
[A] missile-engine testing facility that Trump said would be destroyed remains intact, and U.S. intelligence officials say Pyongyang is working to conceal key aspects of its nuclear program.
Nonetheless, President Trump is still telling reporters that “discussions [with North Korea] are ongoing and they’re going very well.” At the same time, though, he is fuming in private at his aides over lack of progress, at least according to the Post.
Duyeon Kim, a Korea expert at the Center for a New American Security told the Post, “Trump has been hit with a strong dose of reality of North Korea’s negotiating style, which is always hard for Americans to understand.” I’m not sure what’s so hard to understand about North Korea’s negotiating style. Certainly, the negotiating tactics of this evil regime — rudeness, delay, and dishonesty — should not be beyond the grasp of Donald Trump.
The problem, I suspect, is Trump’s wishful thinking rooted in egomania.
I’m not saying Trump’s North Korea policy has been a failure. At least Kim’s nuclear program appears no longer to be expanding. We have received some concessions, including the release of prisoners, and there may be further progress down the road on the return of remains of American soldiers killed in the Korean war.
Most importantly, we now are on speaking terms with a nation that may have the capacity to launch a successful attack on portions of the U.S. That’s all I expected out of this.
My fear is that Trump’s frustration at not getting more may undermine the position of Mike Pompeo, our outstanding Secretary of State. Trump isn’t going to admit that his expectations were unrealistic — that, in effect, he was foolish to believe his own bullshit. Rather, he will blame others.
Since Pompeo is tasked with the fool’s errand of persuading Kim to denuclearize, he might become the fall guy.