Kim Jong-un has Deduced That Donald Trump is Not a Great Negotiator
President Trump's current negotiating strategy with North Korea consists of fawning over its leader Kim Jong-un and promising that if Kim gives up his nukes, his impoverished nation can look forward to a rosy economic future. Kim knows BS when he hears it but is willing to play along because he realizes that Trump is far too invested in their special friendship and needs a foreign policy success. And, if the US President is willing to elevate his status as a world leader, end America's war games with South Korea and let him off the hook for Otto Warmbier's death, why shouldn't he. So far Kim has gotten far more than he could have ever hoped for without giving up anything.
Kim also doesn't seem to fear that Trump will revert to his "fire and fury" rhetoric. After the first summit with Trump he continued to build out his nuclear arsenal and now seems to be restoring a portion of a facility used to test long-range missiles. The North Korean leader is applying additional pressure to get a deal which would reduce sanctions without giving up his nuclear program. That has always been Kim's strategy and he doesn't believe that President Trump will risk a bloody war on the Korean Peninsula.
President Trump has made a hash of these negotiations thus far, but he can redeem himself if he acknowledges that "managing" a nuclear armed N. Korea, as we have in the past, may be the best we can hope for.
Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program for the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute argued last year in Foreign Affairs that it is time to accept the reality of a nuclear-armed N. Korea.
"Kim is working toward winning a de facto recognition of North Korea as a nuclear power in exchange for his agreement to respect certain limits — an end to certain missile tests and nuclear explosions, an agreement not to export nuclear technology to other states, and perhaps a pledge by North Korea not to use nuclear weapons. To accept this would represent a complete and total retreat from decades of U.S. policy — a retreat that I believe is overdue and the inevitable consequence of North Korea’s development of ICBMs and thermonuclear weapons. We have to learn to accept North Korea as it is. And what North Korea is, is nuclear-armed."
Richard Fontaine, Chief executive officer of the Center for a New American Security makes a similar argument in his recent piece in the Atlantic:
"While the public objective of U.S. policy will and should remain full denuclearization, policy makers should privately acknowledge that realistic goals include a freeze in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, an extension of the testing moratorium, and, at most, some rollback of the programs themselves."
Fontaine, however, would also focus on regime change in the longer-term.
"With these objectives in mind, the name of the game is deterrence. That requires a resumption of joint military exercises on the Korean peninsula and better missile defenses in South Korea, Japan, and the United States. Economic measures should include sanctions to pressure Pyongyang’s elite. Washington should also vigorously document the regime’s human-rights abuses and increase North Koreans’ access to information, which could help foster long-term change away from the Kim family dynasty. Covert operations, including cyberattacks, could slow advances in North Korea’s weapons programs. Meanwhile, lower-level diplomatic talks can continue."
It is time for the President to acknowledge that full denuclearization is unlikely, but that America and its allies can successfully manage the threat posed by Kim and his regime.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content