The Skeptics

Here's How Trump Can Win Big at the North Korea Summit

Moreover, Washington should simultaneously encourage the Kim government to engage both South Korea and Japan, since their support would add to the success of a shift toward a more peaceful environment. At the same time, the U.S. should discuss the future of the Korean peninsula with China, indicating that Washington desires to step back militarily, especially in the event of reunification, which, of course, remains a very distant possibility. Nevertheless, the Trump administration should encourage a more cooperative Beijing by indicating that the latter need not fear an American attempt to turn the peninsula into another military outpost in a regional containment system.

When candidate Trump said he was willing to talk with Kim Jong-un, most professional Korea watchers snickered. It is hard to imagine any other president who would have agreed to a summit under these circumstances.

However, President Trump deserves credit for taking the risk. He even was right to step back from demanding immediate CVID, since expecting too much could have resulted in a catastrophic summit break-down and thereby returned the two countries to sort of dangerous confrontation which dominated last year. Whatever happens in Singapore, North Korea will still be a nuclear state when the sun rises on June 13 this year, and next year too.

Nevertheless, much good could be done at the summit and beyond. Making the summit a success will involve process, as the president suggested, but also will need to address the right substance as well. The president still might fall short of a Nobel, but he could help defuse one of the world’s hot spots. And that would be an accomplishment worth celebrating.

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a Changed World and co-author of The Korean Conundrum: America's Troubled Relations with North and South Korea.

Image: Reuters