North Korea: So much for peace
“The prospect of any kind of easy North Korean solution is looking—unsurprisingly—like a mirage,” said Benjamin Hart in NYMag.com. In fact, President Trump may soon come to regret triumphantly declaring that North Korea is “no longer a nuclear threat” after his chummy and theatrical summit in Singapore with Kim Jong Un last month. Since then, U.S. intelligence services are reporting, Kim’s regime has continued to upgrade its nuclear and missile programs, and has been enriching uranium at two secret sites. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he addressed these activities on a negotiating trip to Pyongyang last week, said Nick Wadhams in Bloomberg.com, but was treated dismissively and rudely. Pompeo was denied a face-to-face with Kim, and North Korea publicly rebuked Pompeo’s “gangster-like” demands for denuclearization. Trump has just been given a “jarring reminder” of how Kim’s regime operates.
“Has Washington already blinked?” asked Noah Rothman in Commentary.com. The White House is reportedly willing to “dangle a new carrot” in front of Kim in the form of a second meeting with Trump, this time on American soil in September. What could that possibly achieve if North Korea is already engaging in its usual strategies of delay and deceit? Determined to save face, the Trump administration has apparently “fallen into a familiar diplomatic trap” and decided ongoing negotiations are enough—even if they don’t lead to a North Korea without nuclear weapons.
Let’s face it, said Max Boot in WashingtonPost.com. “Trump was fleeced.” A month after the “Swindle in Singapore,” it’s clear “North Korea’s position remains where it has always been.” Kim will consider giving up his nuclear weapons only if the U.S. provides “security guarantees,” including the withdrawal of its forces from South Korea. Until then, Kim won’t even honor his promise to “repatriate the remains of Korean War POWs/MIAs.” Meanwhile, Trump’s praise of Kim and defense of his regime has sent a signal to China and other nations that they can resume trading with Pyongyang. To avoid admitting he was “bamboozled,” will Trump try to “downplay North Korean duplicity?” asked The Weekly Standard in an editorial. After the Singapore summit, Trump conceded that “I don’t think I’ll ever admit” being wrong about his new pal Kim. If Trump doesn’t, his North Korean overture will wind up being a “greater fiasco” than the failed policies of his predecessors. “And that’s saying something.” ■