Three reasons why North Korea's offer of direct talks is a victory for Trump
Once again, President Trump has embarrassed the diplomatic and political establishment by succeeding where they have failed for decades. The surprise announcement yesterday outside the Oval Office by South Korea's national security adviser Chung Eui-yong that Kim Jong-un is seeking a meeting with President Trump "as soon as possible" is a strong indication that President Trump has already won the first step toward fixing the problem he inherited from his predecessors in the Oval Office.
There are three reasons why this is a vindication of Trump's policy of ratcheting up sanctions and military pressure, up to and including interdiction of shipping into North Korean harbors.
- Kim is the one making the request, and he is doing so with some urgency. As anyone who understands the dynamics of negotiation understands, this places Kim in the position of supplicant. The current situation is unacceptable to him, which means he needs something – almost certainly relaxation of the sanctions that are crippling North Korea (unlike previous sanctions that they were able to work around with the help of China, which evidently has followed through in pledges negotiated by Trump to cut off North Korea from such help).
- North Korea has made a concession before the talks: halting missile launches and nuclear tests.
- North Korea has dropped is usual demand that the U.S. and South Korea halt their scheduled joint military exercises as a condition for talking. Those exercises were postponed in honor of the recent Winter Olympics but will resume. The exercises not only sharpen the ability of the two nations' militaries to work together, but also mass a considerable force within striking distance of North Korea, which is perceived as a threat, carrying the possibility of a sneak attack.
President Trump is the first occupant of the Oval Office to apply the famous definition of insanity attributed to Einstein – that it is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" – to North Korea's drive to become a nuclear power. The bipartisan political establishment has absolutely failed to restrain North Korea from developing a nuclear arsenal and the means to deliver it to the United States, and now, as that country on the brink of realizing its dream, President Trump has tried something different. And he has shown results.
The comparison with Bill Clinton's farcical failure to halt North Korea's nuclear program with billions of dollars of bribes could not be starker. Savor the fatuousness of this 1994 announcement that ranks with the notorious "peace in our time" declaration of Neville Chamberlain, after appeasing Hitler and making World War II inevitable.
Now, make no mistake: there is no guarantee that the forthcoming talks will be successful. But the framework is far more favorable than for any other previous negotiations with the Norks. They must realize that Trump is a different kind of president from the ones they have been able to lie to and extort and bamboozle while they keep going toward an effective nuclear strike force capability. All of the many critics who fretted that President Trump could blunder our way into nuclear war have egg on their faces.