While Washington is amiss with palace intrigue, rumor, allegations of scandal, and unending investigations — a silver lining has emerged on what is the most difficult national security problem set encountered by any American president for the better part of six decades. And so far, it appears that President Donald Trump is winning.
North Korea is said to have committed to giving up its nuclear weapons if it is given certain security guarantees. The North Koreans are also said to be willing to do so without preconditions, with U.S. sanctions and military exercises staying in place. The news coming out of South Korea follows an inter-Korean summit in which North Korean leader Kin Jung Un hosted a South Korean delegation for peace talks.
During the summit Kim Jong Un reportedly extended an invite to President Trump through the South Korean President for talks in what would be first ever meeting between a sitting U.S. President and a North Korean dictator. While the North Koreans have extended the invitation in the past, this is the first time it has come without preconditions and with the pledge to denuclearize. This is truly unprecedented and we have President Trump to thank for it.
North Korea made this offer without any concessions from the United States only after watching President Donald Trump respond to North Korean threats like no other President has before. For the first time, it appears that North Korea is taking the United States seriously, which is in no small part due to President Trump’s unwavering commitment to U.S. policy and his willingness to use force if necessary. The U.S. military is a big stick to wield but our adversaries will only see it as a deterrent if they believe a president will use it when necessary – something that was lost as the last administration engaged in a feckless foreign policy and failed to backup redline positions.
As a leader, you always ask your advisers for what your adversaries most dangerous and most likely course of action would be in response to what you plan to do. In this case, I believe that for the first time, the North Koreans are taking the threat of a U.S. military intervention seriously and the Kim family fears for its survival. At the end of the day, that’s all this is about — survival of the regime.
The likelihood of North Korea making good on its offer to denuclearize is slim but it does present an opportunity to deescalate the situation. North Korea has made similar offers in the past, though not in this dramatic and grand of a fashion, and then failed to carry through. We will have to wait and see how this situation unfolds.
In any case, a peaceful resolution would prevent military and civilian casualties not seen since the Second World War. That is something the U.S. public is not prepared for but might be necessary if talks fail and North Korea is found to be close to completing a miniaturized warhead capable of being delivered by one of the intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the United States – a capability that North Korea recently tested and proved. North Korea has enough conventional artillery pieces point at Seoul, South Korea a mere 30 plus miles to the south, that civilians casualties have been estimated to be in the millions if war were to break out on the peninsula. While some have said the North wouldn’t pull the trigger, I’m not so sure – especially if Kim Jong-un believes the only way to halt a U.S. military strike would be to use maximum force.
As for the President’s critics and so-called North Korea experts, they’ve gotten it wrong for the last three decades over three different presidential administrations. Their collective failures to put in place effective policies to curb North Korea’s nuclear program is what got us to this point and brought us closer to war than ever before. Pardon me if their criticisms fall on deaf ears. Their track records prove they literally don’t know what they are talking about.
Good luck, Mr. President. The nation is behind you, even if your failed critics are not.
Alex Plitsas is a national security professional. He is a combat veteran and a former Pentagon official.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.