I don’t know. Maybe the “Deep State” should let the president meet with Kim Jong Un. Consider this some devil’s advocacy.
Sure, it’s crazy to just agree to meet a foreign adversary with barely any preconditions or preparations. And, yes, this would be giving the North Korean maniac something he desperately wants without him having done anything too meaningful to warrant it. And, no, it’s not likely that Trump will swing some kind of miracle out of this meeting that will result in denuclearization of the peninsula or increased prospects for peace. I can’t argue against any of that.
But let’s at least acknowledge that our president has his strengths and weaknesses, and in this case his weaknesses all argue against bothering with the careful diplomatic protocols of state to state meetings. Trump can’t follow those rules or that kind of direction, so should we really ask him to try?
We can wait around for North Korea to take “verifiable steps” to show that they are disarming their nuke program, but that will never happen and Trump wouldn’t understand the difference between real and fake steps anyway. It could be enough that they simply don’t create any more radioactive explosions or launch any more ICBMs. Maybe a May meeting is too soon, but how about six months of no activity?
That’s worth something all by itself, no?
Jennifer Rubin has been sounding saner of late, but her crazy neoconservative traits come out in her piece here. She approvingly cites Nicholas Eberstadt saying “we must recognize that economic pressure will not alter the intentions of the Kim family regime — ever. ” And then in the next paragraph she says that a Trump/Kim meeting would “undercut much of the good work the Trump administration has actually done — relisting North Korea as a state sponsor of terror, increasing sanctions.” She then goes on to quote Eberstadt some more, explaining how we can “severely cut both North Korea’s international revenues and the vital flows of foreign supplies that sustain the economy” and “send the North Korean economy — and the North Korean military economy — into shock.”
Somehow neither he nor she seems self-aware about how they’re contradicting themselves. If sending their economy into shock has zero chance of changing their intentions, then it isn’t a solution. It might have some deterrent effect on other nations and keep the international anti-profileration mechanisms honed, but it won’t bring the North Koreans to the table in a mood to abandon their current strategy.
So, maybe if we keep following these strategies based on diplomatic protocols and rewards and punishments, it’s not going to get us anywhere. If the South Koreans think a meeting would help, maybe it’s better than doing nothing. Or, maybe the prospect of such a meeting is a better negotiating tool for extracting concessions than a sustained regime of crippling sanctions that very few people think will work.
Finally, since I am playing devil’s advocate here, what could be more terrifying to Kim than having the experience of seeing Trump’s insanity up close?
The best strategy is to assume the safest course is to trust Trump with absolutely nothing. That means delay, delay, delay and hope that there is some kind of salvageable solution still available after Trump is hopefully voted or forced out of office. But delay is our enemy here since it’s really about getting a deal before Kim can land a nuclear weapon on our West Coast. Why not offer a meeting with Trump in exchange for a halt in testing and then string the thing out with an ever increasing and unmeetable set of conditions?
Whether Trump did this impulsively or with the connivance and consent of the South Koreans, the “Deep State” can work with it. Let Trump have his meeting. And keep pushing off the date.
It’s actually a more promising route than what we’ve been doing.