Trump's policy in dealing with North Korea appears to be working

President Donald Trump recently confirmed that Secretary of State-designate Mike Pompeo secretly met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over Easter weekend, increasing the chances that Trump and Kim may have substantive talks when they meet.

If the administration stays on track, it is possible the talks may significantly reduce the threat of war on the Korean peninsula, strengthen America's overall national security, and achieve a diplomatic feat that none of the previous 12 presidents were able to realize.

There is justification for cautious optimism:

For the first time ever, the leaders of North and South Korea will meet face-to-face on Friday on the South Korean side of the DMZ. A peace treaty could be on the agenda.

And, at Pompeo's secret meeting with Kim, Trump said "a good relationship was formed." At no point during the both the Bush and Obama Administrations did legitimate possibilities for peace even exist.

We must be clear-eyed, however, about the path ahead and remain grounded in reality. A lot could happen to derail the currently positive trends.

Kim could ask for immediate sanctions relief as the price for simply continuing to talk, which Trump has emphatically said he would not do. Trump could demand that Kim agree to a complete, verifiable, and irreversible disarmament before agreeing to any relief, which Kim is not likely to accept.

The North Korean leader may ask a high price for giving up his nuclear weapons. He may, for example, seek not just an ultimate peace treaty, but try to demand the early withdraw of the U.S. nuclear umbrella from South Korea and removal of all U.S. troops from the peninsula as signs of the "goodwill" Kim said he wanted to see from the U.S. and South Korea.

If Trump enters negotiations with the explicit intent on denuclearizing North Korea in the near term, then the talks will collapse and the risk of war will return to late-2017 levels. This outcome is not in America's interests, however, and not necessary for U.S. security.

Many pundits argue that Kim has no intention of actually giving up his nuclear weapons. Kim fed this belief himself when he said in his 2018 New Year's speech that "our republic has at last come to possess a powerful and reliable war deterrent, which no force and nothing can reverse."

The United States is in a dominant position in these negotiations and our powerful conventional and nuclear deterrent can, quite literally, protect American interests indefinitely—even if full denuclearization is not realized for the foreseeable future.

America and South Korea possess a military superiority over North Korea with which Pyongyang could never compete. Even if Kim does now possess a few missiles, Washington's advantage in nuclear weapons is overwhelming. Trump is therefore is in the dominant negotiating position because he is under no pressure to have to make a deal.

Trump, who rose to prominence as a tough negotiator, will demand much from Kim while offering little in return, leveraging America's substantial conventional and nuclear military superiority to his advantage.
Recall all the B-1 flights Trump ordered in response to North Korea's missile and nuclear tests?  We now know that the US has developed stealth cruise missiles that are carried by the B-1 and they were used to attack Syria's WMD facilities.  I suspect that was also a warning to Kim of what he could expect if he continued to push his missile and nuclear program.  On top of that, the sanctions have crippled a weak North Korean economy. 

At this point, it looks like Trump has been right in his approach to the threat from North Korea and his critics were intent on the same failed policies of the past.  The meeting today between Kim and teh South Korean leader are a sign of hope.


  1. This could be an incredibly short negotiation if Kim follows the usual NORK pattern of believing they are dominant. On the other hand, Trump may have managed to out crazy Kim. Combined with the collapse, literally, of their test site, unprecedented sanctions, and the distinct possibility the the Chinese are finally ready to liquidate this as an issue, it could also be the stuff of Nobel Peace prizes.


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