Establishment media is either unwilling or unable to accurately cover the intricacies of the Trump-Kim summit as well as Pyongyang’s serious diplomatic efforts, says Gareth Porter.
By Gareth Porter
For weeks, the corporate media have been saying that the Trump-Kim summit could have only two possible results: Either Trump will walk away angrily or Kim Jong Un will trick him into a deal in which he extracts concessions from Trump but never commits to complete denuclearization.
The idea that North Korea could not possibly agree to give up its nuclear weapons or its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) has become an article of faith among the journalists covering the issue for big media. Two themes that have appeared again and again in their coverage are that the wily North Koreans are “playing” Trump and that previous administrations had also been taken by North Korea after signing agreements in good faith.
But the media have gotten it all wrong. They have assumed that North Korea cannot live without nuclear weapons—without making any effort to understand North Korea’s strategy in regard to nuclear weapons.They have invariably quoted “experts” who haven’t followed North Korean thinking closely but who express the requisite hostility toward the summit and negotiating an agreement with the Kim regime.
One of the few Americans who can speak with authority on North Korea’s calculus regarding nuclear weapons is Joel S. Wit, who was senior adviser to the U.S. negotiator with North Korea, Ambassador Robert L. Gallucci, from 1993 to 1995, and who from 1995 to 1999 was coordinator for the 1994 “Agreed Framework” with North Korea. More importantly, Wit also participated in a series of informal meetings with North Korean officials in 2013 about North Korea’s thinking on its nuclear weapons.
At a briefing on the Trump-Kim summit last week sponsored by the website 38 North, which he started and still manages, Wit made it clear that this dismissal of North Korea’s willingness to agree to denuclearization is misguided. “Everyone underestimates the momentum behind what North Korea is doing,” he said. “It’s not a charm offensive…