For a brief period, it appeared that Donald Trump was on the verge of a major geopolitical triumph that had eluded his three predecessors: Clinton, Bush, and Obama. After months of talking tough about reining in the nuclear-armed “Hermit Kingdom,” it seemed that Trump had finally put a real scare into North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The young autocrat was willing to hold a summit with Trump directly, meeting in Singapore on June 12. America cheered, declaring that Trump’s aggressiveness had outdone previous policies.
But…now it appears that the offer of a summit may have been more of a boon for North Korea than for the United States, as Kim Jong Un is now threatening to back out of the talks. In a political twist, it is now Trump who seems to be bargaining, trying to keep North Korea happy so that the summit goes through. Observers declare that this is North Korea as usual, which has been notorious for breaking agreements since the 1990s. Many times, the regime in Pyongyang has accepted a deal, usually for some sort of aid, and then broken it over a declared grievance. It appears the aid this time is global recognition of strength.
North Korea has been unhappy with the recently planned military drills by U.S. and South Korean forces. By threatening to break off the summit, Kim Jong-un apparently wants to see how much military cooperation among the U.S., South Korea, and Japan it can erode. Will the U.S. cancel planned drills and exercises in the region in order to appease North Korea and lock in the June 12 summit? The White House seems unwilling to publicly go that far. Now that North Korea has revealed that it has no intentions of denuclearizing, which many already assumed, many wonder what the president is willing to do for Kim.
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