'Trump Got Played': Foreign Policy Expert Explains How the 'Fatally Naive' North Korea Summit Could Lead to War
Do they give out Nobel Peace Prizes for being effortlessly hoodwinked by a murderous dictator?
If so, that's the only way President Donald Trump will win the award he clearly covets — whatever his devotees in Congress may think.
But while it's long been clear that Trump was overselling the success of his summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un — which succeeded in securing only a vague agreement from the dictatorial regime even as the U.S. conceded to suspending its military exercises in the region — foreign policy expert Brian Klaas argued Monday in a Washington Post column that the meeting may have actually brought us closer to war.
How is this possible, when Trump sold the summit as the key to peace?
As many North Korean experts argued, there was never any evidence that the country was any more willing to give up its nuclear arsenal than it has been in the past, despite Trump's blustering reassurances. And now, multiple reports suggest that the regime has continued to develop its nuclear capacities, even as it was negotiating the details of the summit.
"Trump got played," writes Klaas. "Kim, who pledged in wishy-washy language to 'denuclearize,' is now accelerating his nuclear program. The nuclear threat from North Korea — and the risk of a preemptive war launched by Trump — are both growing."
The fact that Trump may eventually be forced to admit that North Korea isn't on the level raises the likelihood of a conflict, especially given who the national security adviser is, as Klaas explained.
John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, has long argued (before his current stint in the White House) that the United States should preemptively attack North Korea. In February, he wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed, providing the legal justification for preemptive strikes to topple Kim’s regime and take out their nuclear program — a strategy that most analysts agree could lead to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of deaths.
Bolton may soon be proved right that the time on negotiations was “wasted” — not because diplomacy is doomed to fail, but because the amateur and childishly naive approach that Trump took was always doomed to fail.
And with Bolton as a top adviser, Trump will have a forceful voice in his ear when he weighs how to respond to Kim's avoidable deception.
Of course, much of this was predictable and predicted. While conservatives and some mainstream voices berated Trump's critics for being overly skeptical in the face of his slipshod attempt at diplomacy, many correctly assessed that the president's fumbling raised the stakes of the situation rather than lowering them.
The best bet now, Klaas argues, is that Trump just chooses to stay away from the North Korea issue entirely.
In the face of all the contradictory evidence, he can declare victory and move on to whatever controversy he's interested in stoking next. Kim will be emboldened, yes, but Trump can save face with his base who'll believe almost anything he says. And with any luck, the rest of us can avoid a nuclear war as the real diplomats continue their slow and steady work.