Americans should welcome President Trump’s apparent willingness to speak with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, but instead naysayers are warning of dire consequences, Jonathan Marshall explains.
By Jonathan Marshall
Three months ago, I quoted approvingly Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to supporters in Atlanta that he would “absolutely” speak to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un even if there were only a “10 percent or a 20 percent chance that I can talk him out of those damn nukes.”
“What the hell is wrong with speaking?” the candidate said. “We should be eating a hamburger on a conference table.”
This week, the ever-mercurial President Trump agreed to take Kim up on a surprise offer to meet face-to-face in two months to search for peace. The meeting will be the first ever held between the leaders of the United States and North Korea, two countries that remain technically at war.
Whether the two men agree to eat hamburgers or kimchi, Americans should applaud Trump’s renewed willingness to talk rather than fight. Instead, all manner of naysayers are warning of potentially dire consequences. A few of their points have merit, but none outweigh the likely consequences of doing nothing to stop an impending war.
For the past year, the two leaders have communicated only by trading epithets like “Little Rocket Man” and “lunatic mean old trickster and human reject.” Such exchanges would be entertaining if President Trump had not also threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and bring down “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” While Pyongyang has tested new warheads and missiles, Washington has been conducting war exercises and moving nuclear-capable stealth bombers and submarines within range of North Korea.
The Unacceptable Risk of War
In recent months, experts have put the odds of a catastrophic war—which would likely kill hundreds of thousands of Americans in addition to countless Koreans and Japanese—at between 25 and 50 percent. President Trump’s foreign-policy adviser, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said the likelihood of Trump launching a preemptive…