Photo: GQ Online
Cutline: Impersonators of Trump and Kim Jong Un pose together at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang
By Navor Jacob Tercero
When President Trump called off his summit with Kim Jong Un, the enigmatic leader of North Korea, it rocked the diplomatic world and seemed to dash hopes which had been so high following a number of historic moments between North Korea and the rest of the world. A little over two weeks after, following many fragile talks and constant communication within the diplomatic community, President Trump announced that the formerly canceled meeting on June 12th is back on.
It now seems almost a distant memory of last summer when tensions between the North and the U.S. were at a great and frightening high. After watching the news one could be forgiven for thinking that nuclear war was nearly upon us.
And yet on April 27th we saw a historic moment of hope where Kim Jong Un and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-In met for the first time at the border of their two nations, embracing one another over the 38th parallel. This came a month after a North Korean delegation delivered a letter to the White House from the Kim regime inviting President Trump meet with him and discuss the nature of the Norths place in the world and its rather tense relationships with its neighbors near and far.
Everything then seemed set as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continued to meet with members of the North Korean delegation as advance teams travelled to Singapore and Seoul, to ensure that everything would run smoothly as Jun 12th began to approach. What no one seemed to count on however was a very surprising and curious speedbump in the road. When President Trump announced then that he was calling off the meeting due to “tremendous anger and open hostility” on the part of the North Korean delegation in preparation for the June 12 summit, the media and the world were unsure how to react.
There were those who accused the President of characteristic rashness. Others were disappointed by what now seemed to be empty optimism of the past several months and would return to down hearted cynicism. It was my opinion though that calling off the meeting at that time was, while perhaps at first disappointing, would hope to lead to a firmer foundation upon the start of the meeting. When Trump called it off Pyongyang responded by saying that they were still willing to meet “at any time, [in] any format.”
What we saw happen in the following days was incredible, as advance teams continued in their now fragile discussion and as Secretary Pompeo continued to speak with members of the North Korean delegation, President Trump announced once then that the U.S. was looking to reenter talks with the North.
In order for any real progress to be made at these talks the President has to be willing to walk away if the North is unwilling to make concessions. If Trump had went ahead and moved forward with these meetings with the North acting as it had been, it is in my opinion that the danger would be there of nothing of real value being accomplished. By calling off the meeting it seems now that the talks are on surer footing than before.
Truly though calling off the meeting was a gambit, there was indeed the danger of relations once again souring and the summit falling apart. That wasn’t however what happened. What happened was that the North responded with a willingness to continue to work towards the summit. All of this does seem to beg the question though of why?
Truly who can say. I must admit that it is entirly possible that the Kim regime will not be willing to not make a truly effective deal and rather will stonewall the entire summit. Or perhaps, is it possible that the Kim Regime has realized that it is unsustainable? That in this global world, that even though China continues to support them, it is only a matter of time before they collapse? That they must make true change to their way of life or eventually fall apart? Perhaps.
Truly though one can only hope that as this summit approaches in the coming days, real progress can be made in addressing the repressive and dictatorial nature of the North while also addressing its volatile relationship with the rest of the world. Truly one can only wait and hope and see.