Make no mistake about it, North Korea’s declaration that they will give up their nuclear weapons program and have requested to meet with Donald Trump is nothing short of a fantastic win for the American president.
Not that The New York Times or Trump’s many detractors can admit that.
The Times has an editorial claiming the whole thing is a mess and fraught with danger. After months of urging Trump to engage in diplomacy, they are now worried that he is doing that.
It’s true that what North Korea said, through South Korean intermediaries, needs to be verified and concrete actions must be taken by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un but think back to where the world stood a few short weeks or months ago.
North Korea has been building it’s nuclear program for years despite the best efforts of the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations. They all tried a combination of carrot and stick, negotiations and sanctions but got little to show for it.
Instead North Korea became more belligerent, more strident in the face of worldwide opposition to their acquisition of nuclear arms. For a time it seemed there were weekly developments, tests and threats to attack North America with missiles capable of bringing a warhead to major cities across the continent, not just the west coast.
Donald Trump’s reaction was tough.
It including reminding North Korea that if they attacked the United States or her allies that America would strike back hard.
“They will be met with fire and fury and frankly power the likes of which the world has never seen before,” Trump said last August after a missile test.
Those comments were denounced in western media harder than any threat issued by Kim Jog-un. As were Trump’s tweets calling Kim “Rocket Man” and mocking the size of the North Korean nuclear button.
We were told by all the best experts that Trump’s language would only escalate the situation and lead to another world war.
Has that happened?
Not yet and it very well still could.
But what appears to have happened is that Trump bullied a bully. In taking his tough, mocking stance combined with sanctions and a diplomatic freeze, Trump caused Kim Jong-un to blink.
I have friends whose opinions I often trust that worry this all might be North Korea playing the White House to get a meeting with the most powerful man in the world and show how powerful North Korea really is.
Possible but I doubt it.
To get the meeting North Korea offered concessions, the United States offered none.
On TV we hear from the talking heads, in the papers we read the columnists all singing from the same hymn book, this is a mistake. These are the same people that told us Trump’s actions were dangerous and would bear no fruit.
I’m not listening to them, the so-called experts who are right as often as a stopped clock. Instead listen to what South Korea’s national security advisor, the man who just met with Kim Jong-un and then flew to the White House to deliver the message.
“I explained to President Trump that his leadership and his maximum pressure policy, together with international solidarity, brought us to this juncture. I expressed President Moon Jae-in’s personal gratitude for President Trump’s leadership,” Chung Eui-yong said.
Of course I’m still skeptical of North Korea but with what has happened over the past few days, I’m more optimistic about the situation than I have been in some time.