So Trump cancelled the North Korea meeting. Did we expect this? Depends who you ask. A lot of folks say they were blindsided, and to be sure, there were no overt signals to suggest that the summit wouldn’t happen. My calculation was that if a location was announced, chances of it actually happening would rise dramatically.
But, on the flipside, Trump has been hedging his comments on the meeting for weeks. “Well, it would be a great opportunity for North Korea, we’ll see what happens” etc. In spite of all his other mistakes, I give Trump credit for constantly being willing to walk away. Given that Kim Jong Un is benefitted by the mere occurrence of a meeting, even if nothing comes of it (meeting with the US president legitimizes him as a world leader, a big boy) there was only upside for Kim. Trump, on the other hand, could lose out significantly if he walked away with nothing and looked like he got played.
So how did this fall apart? A couple things happened. National Security adviser John Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence both mentioned that the US was seeking a deal in the style of the “Libya model”. Yknow, the one where a dictator gives up all his nuclear weapons in return for security assurances, and then 5 years later we enable a revolution that ends with him being sodomized and brutally murdered in the street. That Libya model.
Obviously, the North Koreans didn’t take this well. They responded, saying that full, one-sided denuclearization would not be on the table. “But you said it would be!” Yeah, well, he lied, and also you effectively just threatened to have him murdered. Trump walked it back saying maybe they didn’t need to denuclearize and it certainly wouldn’t look like Libya. The North Koreans also called Bolton a land mine and Pence an fool. So due to this “tremendous anger and open hostility”, on Thursday, Trump personally (PERSONALLY) drafted an open letter to Kim, reiterating how big his missiles are and saying that he was calling off the summit on account of the recent remarks.
So what’s it mean? On the one hand, the summit could honestly be off. The North Koreans legitimately were never going to offer a deal that would have actually been a long-term benefit to either the US or its allies. On the other hand, it’s possible that it’s a negotiation tactic. Soften your stance, say you aren’t actually seeking denuclearization, and then pull out entirely and wait for Kim to come crawling back. If that’s the case though, it hasn’t worked yet – North Korean officials said they “will not beg” for a summit. So, we’ll see in the next couple weeks. #fpf