President Trump canceled the summit meeting with North Korea, and the North Koreans came crawling back – saying in less than a day they wanted to keep talking and continuing to pursue the meeting, June 12, in Singapore.
But according to the mainstream media, this meant Trump was now in a weakened position to negotiate.
“It’s one step forward and two steps back,” wrote Joseph Hincks of Time magazine in a story entitled, “The Trump-Kim Summit Appears to be Back on Track. But the U.S. Has Lost Leverage.”
Yes, the summit now may proceed as planned “following last-ditch diplomatic efforts from southern counterpart Moon Jae-in,” Hincks wrote. But at this point, “experts say it’s unlikely to live up to the hype as ambiguity remains about the definition of denuclearization and whether the U.S. can convince the Kim regime that it can remain in power after giving up its weapons.”
The leaders of the two Koreas met at the request of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in the DMZ village at Panmunjom “after the two Korean leaders were blindsided by Trump’s abrupt pullout.”
But those unnamed experts were “hardly optimistic about a breakthrough, even if the meeting goes ahead. Analysts tell Time that Trump’s volatile handling of the summit have alienated U.S. allies and disrupted preparations.”
The parties already were behind the tight schedule for preparing for the summit, and the week of uncertainty caused by Trump’s withdrawal only made things worse, Time wrote. Besides, they seem to have different definitions of ‘denuclearization.’
The resumption of planning for the summit – US delegations are now in Singapore and North Korea, and Kim Jong Un’s right-hand man has become the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit the US in 17 years – “is no doubt a victory for Seoul …” but it “may be that Kim has gained a big advantage over Trump’s flip-flopping on their original plans.”
Proof of that: Kim Jong-Un could now “’continue to play nice in public but stall out the process behind closed doors,’” it quotes Adam Mount, a senior defense analyst with the far-left Federation of American Scientists as saying. “’Trump has ensured that he will take most of the blame for a failure of diplomacy.’”
Another piece in Time asked if the Trump administration did not blow up the summit on purpose, only to reschedule it soon thereafter.
Trump is a “political tyro known for histrionics,” wrote Charlie Campbell from Beijing under the headline “Did President Trump Deliberately Sabotage the North Korea Summit to Save Face?”
But Vice-President Mike Pence is the opposite – “a seasoned operator who stays on message” – so when Pence, “completely unprompted,” compared the North Korean situation to Libya, “he presumably had the full backing of the administration.”
North Korea’s response – to rebuke Trump and call Pence a “political dummy” – was “entirely predictable,” Campbell wrote.
Referencing Libya “laid the foundation for the collapse of any negotiations,” said one left-wing think tank analyst. The cancellation of the summit “was more a reflection of the fact that the U.S. president probably found himself unprepared for the negotiations.”
What Trump did was realize the North Koreans were up to their old negotiating tricks – missing pre-summit meetings, refusing to answer calls, making hostile statements – and shut things down rather than play along as past presidents have done.
The media’s analysis, captured by the two Time pieces, is summed up by a quote from Robert Kelly, a political science professor at Pusan National University. “The president puts his ego above traditional strategic and national interest calculation. He doesn’t want to be the bride left at the altar.”
Then Time laid on the finishing touches.
“North Korea has a nuclear-armed ballistic missile capable of devastating any American city,” wrote Campbell. “Reaching a deal to nullify that threat will require the concerted effort of all parties. Not alienated a paranoid adversary, while humiliating a key ally, must come before Trump’s worries of losing face by being stood up by Kim.”