The Singapore Summit was a failure, a disappointment and a win for North Korea and China, according to most American media outlets and their string of “experts”: officials from previous administrations.
What primarily got so many folks upset was, as Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute wrote, “President Trump decided to forego the next round of U.S. exercises with South Korea’s military”, (although not permanently ending such military exercises.) The second most common complaint was we gave the North’s leader equal “billing” as the United States at the summit meeting and did not devote any statement to the continued abomination of human rights in the North.
Now, did the administration get anything in return?
Well, again, if one relied upon the dominant American media outlets, we got only a meaningless written agreement, (“promise”) from North Korea to de-nuclearize the Korean peninsula, but because it was considered of little value, no real deal was secured.
Now to most Americans it would be a great deal if the North’s nuclear weapons were dismantled.
But apparently, the clairvoyant media knows there will not be any deal as their headlines were pretty much the same across the board. The North won; China will be the new regional power; the United States betrayed its record of human rights concerns and the administration got snookered. On top of which the pause in the joint American military exercises abandoned our ally South Korea.
On one cable network, a handwriting expert was asked to analyze the president’s hand-written signature on the joint statement, and he concluded the American president wants to be a dictator and blow things up.
My take on the summit is entirely different. I had reviewed up to the summit all the demands or concessions the critics of the forthcoming summit had claimed the administration would have to make simply to get a summit but certainly to secure any kind of freeze, halt, or moratorium of the North’s nuclear programs, let alone dismantling any or all of it.
I found at least eight prominent DPRK demands many assumed would be on the table as a condition of any possible plan on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula:
- The US withdrawal of troops from ROK
- The US withdrawal of missile defenses from the region and the ROK
- The US withdrawal of its nuclear umbrella over ROK or Japan
- The end of US missile testing
- The elimination of all nuclear weapons under a global zero framework
- The end or limits on the United States nuclear modernization efforts
- The end or limits to ROK or USA conventional military modernization in the region
- The end of American economic sanctions.
Now none of these appeared in the joint statement as well as in any post-summit commentary by the DPRK. And the American spokesmen have been very clear since the summit that the United States will not be making any of these suggested concessions either.
How is that possible? In the weeks prior to the summit, were not these eight “talking points” (from what might be called “Friends of Kim”) a constant feature of the evening news and late night cable shows, convinced as they were that such requirements were sure to be part of any agreement, especially given how crafty and clever the North Korean negotiators were assumed to be?
So, in the spirit of the reporting on the subject, I can only conclude the real summit story is “Trump Out Foxes Kim.”
And contrast this agreement from previous administration efforts to deal with rogue regimes. The United States did not pay cash for the kidnapped Americans who were returned home. And we did not have to provide the DPRK with oil or food assistance which between 1994 and 2009 amounted to $1.4 billion.
And on top of which any American soldier remains as well as previously kidnapped Japanese citizens, once identified, would be immediately returned to the United States and Japan, respectively.
Human rights were and are on the table, a resolution of which would be critical to any establishment of normal relations among the countries of the region.
Well, how did all this happen? Was not Trump unprepared? Wasn’t he simply going to “wing it?”
Such a myopic view of the summit reflects an absence of an informed analysis of what steps took place prior to Singapore. As China expert and Hudson Institute analyst Michael Pillsbury explains, the administration had a well thought out plan that involved China, South Korea and Japan.
As a result, the U.S. side made no permanent concessions, kept denuclearization central to any agreement and in short, made the North an offer hard to refuse.
Will the North get rid of its nuclear weapons and accept the offer?
Well, Chairman Kim signed a document saying yes he will. There are no conditions placed on that pledge in the joint statement.
But realistically, what if Chairman Kim does not get rid of his nuclear weapons and the weapons program in a verifiable way?
Well, Pillsbury explains what will happen.
“Maximum economic sanctions. No investment. No trade. No prosperity. And military strikes as an option.”
Years ago, in 1932, the New York Times won a Pulitzer Prize for Will Duranty’s reporting that later was revealed to be fraudulent. Duranty maintained there was no famine in Ukraine or no Soviet policies to deliberately starve and kill farmers.
We now know Duranty lied. And for a most gruesome regime.
On the other hand, when President Trump went to Seoul and before the National Assembly spoke the truth about North Korea, did the American media applaud?
Not only that, the Post was sure the regime in North Korea would react angrily to the Seoul speech, and at best, they would only engage in future talks if they were “not about denuclearization.”
Peter Huessy has spent the past 38 years consulting with consecutive presidential administrations, the U.S. Air Force and the Nuclear Aerospace industry. He is now the director of strategic deterrent studies at the Mitchell Institute of the Air Force Association.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.