Trump takes on the 'impossible' task of denuclearizing North Korea
According to almost all the experts, there is every reason to anticipate that the talks President Trump has agreed to hold with Kim Jong-un will fail, just as experts agreed that Trump's quest for the presidency was a laughable impossibility. Smart people like Claudia Rosett of PJ Media understand the box the Kim dynasty is stuck in:
The totalitarian character of the regime itself – a system built on brute force, threats and lies – ought to warn us that Kim's goal in proposing a summit is not to surrender to maximum pressure, but to deflate it, via assorted diplomatic stunts. All the better for Kim to regroup and carry on with North Korea's predatory projects, global rackets and nuclear missile program. (Forget the idea that Kim might be suddenly looking to repent [of] his murderous ways and scrap his totalitarian system; odds are, his own gotesquely [sic] abused citizenry would seize the chance to kill him.) ...
The problem for the U.S. is that there is no diplomatic deal that would deliver any serious chance of ending North Korea's nuclear program. North Korea's totalitarian system, with its pervasive control and closed society, means there is no way that any deal can be genuinely monitored and enforced from outside. North Korea can let inspectors in, but it can just as readily kick them out. North Korea can promise to shutter its weapons-producing facilities, but it can then unshutter them, or secretly build new ones, and then dare the U.S. to do anything about it. That's how one nuclear deal after another has failed. Repeatedly North Korea has cheated and walked away refreshed and refortified, its pockets stuffed with whatever plunder it can carry from the bargaining table.
One factor that must be considered is the vulnerability of the Kim regime itself under the status quo. It stays in power only through brutal force and displays of its power.
It has survived so far by never flinching from extreme measures, and by keeping the populace ignorant of conditions outside of North Korea. That second pillar of regime stability has crumbled, however, thanks to the widespread availability of video players and smartphones, many of them dropped into North Korea by balloon drops or smuggled across the Yalu River from China. According to media reports, the North Korean public has seen that its cousins to the south enjoy a lifestyle that can only seem like a dream.
That does not make for a stable or long-lived regime.
I think President Trump understands this as well as anyone. My strong supposition is that he is thinking of offers that have been "outside the box" of conventional diplomacy.
First of all, he is going to look Kim Jong-un straight in the eye and tell him he faces death via nuclear annihilation or other means if no deal results. Trump's "stick" is far more believable than that of any previous American president thanks to the relentless work of Trump-haters, who have told the world he is a reckless madman. Trump has often used his enemies' tactics against him to his own advantage. President Reagan used a similar tactic, pretending to be the madman his critics called him to stare down the USSR.
I have no inside knowledge of what Trump might offer in the way of carrots to Kim, but I would not rule out guarantees of safe haven in a country acceptable to Kim. Recall that he went to school in Switzerland and has far more familiarity with the ways of the Western word than either his father or his grandfather, and he might find that safe and reliable nation a comfortable refuge for him and his cronies for the rest of his and their days.
The North Korean ruling elite of senior military and government officials, their families, and maybe an ample coterie of those cheerleader sex slaves who charmed NBC so deeply would number under a thousand people, easily accommodated by a safe haven nation, particularly if accompanied by a few billion dollars for care and feeding.
China might be another location where Kim could find refuge and comfort. China does not want war in North Korea and does want a denuclearized Korean peninsula and especially does not want a nuclear Japan. That is its incentive to cooperate.
There are reports that Kim's health is failing, and I may not be the only person who suspects that he is not necessarily enjoying the position of dictator surrounded by people who might assassinate him at any moment. In fact, my reading of him is that he is a voluptuary, more concerned about first survival, and after that, his pleasures.
There is also a wild card: Dennis Rodman. I know, I know: he appears to be a comic figure, but consider the fact that Kim Jong-un invited him and apparently spent enjoyable time together with him. And also consider that Rodman was a guest on Trump's reality television show and therefore has a genuine basis for telling Kim about Trump's true nature, based on his personal experience with the man.
Would courtside season tickets to Lakers games in perpetuity, seated next to Rodman, be a lure? I don't know.
One thing is certain: the conventional tools of conventional diplomacy have proven themselves powerless. Consideration of trying something new ought not to be constrained by the norms of diplomacy.