It is almost impossible to discern what exactly took place in Singapore while we all slept. A wholly non-binding agreement – a statement – got signed. But, the statement included no provisions for human rights abuses, no provisions for how each nation would enforce the few things agreed upon, certainly no means to ensure that North Korea would denuclearize, and no mention of the role that regional powers would play, China, South Korea, Japan, all left out of the statement.
We will give credit to Trump for turning away from what looked like war just six months ago. He is at least embracing diplomacy as something “to do” in situations such as this, and that – literally – is the most that can be said about the end product of the talks. But, it is something. A quick note, the real “peacemaker” in this particular scenario is not Donald Trump but South Korean president Park Geun-hye, who was the one who really turned the tone between the nations around the time of the Olympics and has not gotten near the credit he deserves, at least in the U.S. media, and especially not by Trump
Kim Jung Un is the clear winner, he got the only tangible concession, a big one. The United States will stop the “war games” (“which will save us a tremendous amount of money, plus I think it is very provocative” said Trump, idiotically.), those same war games act as a strong deterrent against North Korea, as well as preserve our readiness to fight efficiently and effectively alongside allies such as South Korea and Japan, who likely choked upon hearing of the concession, making them the clear losers.
Trump promised that North Korea would begin denuclearization “right away” – yet there is nothing in the signing statement even promising such, never mind some sort of affirmative, verifiable steps toward the goal. For now, all obligations on the part of North Korea ride upon the graciousness and will of Kim.
As expected, Trump had nothing but glowing admiration for Kim and the language got uncomfortable as Trump described Kim as a great negotiator, great leader, conferring upon Kim a legitimacy that he has not earned. The lavish praise for Kim rang that much louder as it reverberated against the despicable description of Prime Minister Trudeau, who truly is a great leader and negotiator.
Trump has at least embraced the idea of diplomacy, and the cynic in me wonders how much of Trump’s new found fascination with “talks” has to do with his political standing at home, and desperate desire for that Nobel Prize that he has yet to earn, always wanting to match his nemesis Obama.
I wonder if anyone has mentioned to Trump that North Korea has pledged to end its nuclear program four times in the past two decades.
A question for another day.