The North Korea leader obviously wants a deal, writes Patrick Lawrence, which gives the U.S. a historic opportunity next month.
By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News
President Donald Trump’s announcement late last week that he will meet North Korea’s Kim Jong-un next month promises a significant result whether the encounter succeeds or fails. In the intervening weeks, we have two questions to ponder.
No. 1: what will this second summit accomplish? The first Trump–Kim meeting last June in Singapore was about establishing rapport and can by this measure be counted a success. Something of substance, however modest, needs to get done this time.
No. 2, and just as important, will Trump’s foreign policy minders undermine this encounter before it takes place? The record suggests this is a serious possibility.
A month ago, Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. special forces from Syria. The howls of protest, Capitol Hill Democrats often the shrillest, have not ceased. And troops have not started to pack their duffle bags.
But the Syria decision may prove a turning point, given that Trump directly confronted the policy clique — segments of the Pentagon and State Department bureaucracies, as well as members of the National Security Council —who have been sabotaging his objectives since his first day in office two years ago.
Steve Bannon, once and briefly Trumps’ strategic adviser, put it this way after the withdrawal announcement: “The apparatus slow-rolled him until he just said enough and did it himself. Not pretty, but at least done.”
Will the second Trump–Kim summit prompt another such showdown with “the apparatus” around Trump?
It could. John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, is a hyper-hawk on North Korea. Behind him, the Pentagon finds the prospect of lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula a threat to its immense presence in Northeast Asia. Be wary in coming weeks of vaguely sourced press reports citing newly discovered North Korean treachery, betrayals, and deceits.
More For, Than Against
On balance, however, Trump and Kim appear to have more going for them than…