Well that didn’t take long. After only a matter of weeks after the famous North Korea Summit where president Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un staged a fake negotiation to bring peace to the world, the White House has now admitted that the whole spectacle was completely pointless. Reported the Washington Post today:
National security adviser John Bolton said Tuesday that North Korea has not made progress toward denuclearization in a dismal acknowledgment that comes nearly two months after President Trump held a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.
“The United States has lived up to the Singapore declaration. It’s just North Korea that has not taken the steps we feel are necessary to denuclearize,” Bolton said in an interview on Fox News Channel on Tuesday morning.
He added the United States will continue to apply pressure until Pyongyang produces results.
“The idea that we’re going to relax the sanctions just on North Korea’s say-so, I think, is something that just isn’t under consideration,” Bolton said. “We’re going to continue to apply maximum pressure to North Korea until they denuclearize, just as we are to Iran.”
It should be pointed out that Iran of course, does not have nuclear weapons. Regardless, Bolton’s admission is not surprising for anyone who was paying attention to the meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un. The summit was, as former Brooking expert and North Korean analyst Katy Oh told Slate, “a joke”.
“They didn’t put down anything that will drive North Korea to denuclearize,” she said. “It’s got to be a joke. And although I think the nuclear issue is the most important issue for the United States and global security, the worst dictator [was just] welcomed with compliments by the CEO of the United States.”
The summit produced nothing tangible — no confirmation of any moratorium on testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, no confirmation that North Korea would detail their nuclear arsenal or open their sites up for inspection, and no concrete steps on how to move peace negotiations forward. If there was a winner, Kim Jong Un undoubtedly got more of what he wanted than Trump did. As Bloomberg reported:
Kim, though, did get something valuable — a meeting with a sitting U.S. president (something his father and grandfather never accomplished, despite great efforts). This will bolster his position at home. He also appears to have talked Trump into suspending joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises — another longtime demand — in exchange for dismantling a missile-engine testing site that the North may, in fact, have already destroyed.
This was entirely predictable given Trump told the world he hadn’t bothered preparing for the summit, and was basing his negotiating strategy around using his famous instincts. “I don’t think I have to prepare very much,” he bragged. “It’s about attitude, it’s about willingness to get things done. So this isn’t a question of preparation, it’s a question of whether or not people want it to happen, and we’ll know that very quickly.”
Well, we did find that out very quickly, and it turns out they don’t. Given the complexity of the conflict with North Korea, this was always going to be a disaster, and the summit produced absolutely nothing other than a giant PR opportunity for Kim Jong Un. When you put two charlatans with an astonishing track record of lying to their people into a negotiation, this is exactly what happens: they make promises they can’t keep on issues they don’t understand.
Talking to your enemies is a good thing, and Trump’s willingness to speak with America’s official adversaries is, at least philosophically speaking, a positive. But this is not the point and never has been. There has to be substance behind dialogue, and with Trump and Kim Jong Un, there is none. And now even the White House has admitted as much.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.