Donald Trump has decided to reschedule the North Korean summit with Kim Jong-Un — leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This may come as a surprise, considering that Trump called off this very meeting only a week prior. The summit is meant to happen June 12, in Singapore.
What is the significance of this meeting? What are the possible benefits or consequences? Should you expect anything at all?
It’s no secret that hostilities between the United States and North Korea exist. They’ve been in place since the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953. Tensions have reached a peak in recent years when both Trump and Kim continuously exchanged threats and insults. Comparable to a pair of squabbling children, they have said some strange and petty things about each other.
Trump has referred to Kim as “rocket man” and threatened him with “fire and fury.” Meanwhile, Kim has answered the intimidations by promising to “tame” the “mentally deranged” Trump. They have even compared the size of their nuclear buttons, which further prompted Trump to declare that he “too ha[s] a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than [Kim’s], and [his] Button works!”
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
After reviewing and reflecting on all of these bizarre exchanges between the two leaders, you may find yourself wondering how they decided to schedule the North Korean summit in the first place and if anything progressive can actually come of it. This may all be the result of one man’s determined actions: Moon Jae-in’s, South Korea’s leader.
A historic meeting was recently held between Moon and Kim. It was the first time a North Korean leader had crossed the border into South Korea. Moon desires an end to the nuclear threats, and to begin productive relations with both North Korea and the United States. Because of this meeting between North and South Korea, a constructive summit between North Korea and the United States is now possible and achievable.
However, it’s important to note that Trump has called off this North Korean summit once already. Trump made this call after a North Korean vice minister of foreign affairs referred to Mike Pence, the Vice President of the United States, as a “political dummy.”
There were other reasons for this cancellation as well. Listed as the following by CBS News, “North Korea’s objection to a routine annual military exercise, North Koreans’ failure to show up when the U.S. sent an advance team to Singapore, an inability to verify North Korea’s claims it destroyed its nuclear site, and unreturned communications.” It appeared that North Korea did not wish to cooperate, therefore, Trump sent a letter to Kim explaining that he had canceled the summit.
A week later, though, Trump decided to reschedule the North Korean summit. This decision was made after a letter from Kim was delivered to the White House. Trump described the letter as “very interesting,” before later admitting that he had not actually read the letter. He then claimed that the threats and insults had been forgotten and that the meeting would be “a successful process.”
Trump has also declined to increase sanctions on North Korea while stressing the fact that he and Kim are “getting along.” The existing sanctions will stay in place, however. The situation is meant to remain the same while the meeting(s) occur. This is an important move to make, and probably the wisest decision.
The United States cannot afford to look weak in the face of nuclear threats, yet, the U.S. must also appear ready to compromise if denuclearization and peace are truly the most sought-out answer. It is a tedious and careful balance that one may be dubious of Trump’s ability to maintain. He will need to imitate Moon Jae-in, and focus solely on progressing these relations.
With the complicated history that has existed between North Korea and the United States for so long, especially between Trump and Kim, any sort of progress or agreements between the two can be difficult to imagine.
Denuclearization of North Korea is the most optimal result that the U.S. can attempt to receive from this meeting. However, to believe that this can and will happen after just one meeting would be quite the naive mistake. It is far more likely that this meeting will be one of many before any sort of agreement is reached.
It is possible that the meeting could be canceled yet again by Trump or Kim. Both seem to harbor plenty of spite for the other, so this outcome does seem likely. If the meeting does, in fact, take place, both men will need to suppress their egos in order for any progress to be made — not only during this meeting but in all future meetings to come.
Neither can afford to offend the other. Failure to do this will result in more of what the world has already seen: Laughable insults and threats made on either side.
The threats could become even more sinister, though, if they were to actually be made in person face-to-face. People may begin to take them more seriously and fear the repercussions. This is the reality they face when Trump is allowed to say what he pleases — as he has done his entire presidency thus far.
The president must learn to reign in his tongue. Only through careful wording and thoughtful decisions will the world ever see an end to the disagreements between North Korea and the United States, or any of its other opponents.
Kim and Trump are, quite simply, too similar to one another. They are both insecure men in positions of power. They are trigger-happy, defensive leaders who don’t always put the most thought behind the words they say, or even the actions they take.
It is because of their startling similarities that the utmost caution must be taken if and when they finally meet at the North Korean Summit. Kim has already met with Moon, so good faith has been extended. It is up to Trump and his advisors to take the next step and negotiate with Kim in a polite, conservative manner.