Trump on defensive over North Korean summit
21 July 2018
Already facing a hysterical storm of opposition after his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Donald Trump has sought to stem criticism on another front—the failure of his much-vaunted meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on June 12 in Singapore to produce concrete results.
Both issues are bound up with vicious political infighting in Washington over the direction of American foreign policy. As Trump ramps up his trade war measures and confrontation with China, powerful sections of the military and intelligence apparatus backed by the Democrats are pressing for more aggressive moves against Russia and accuse Trump of “appeasement” towards Putin.
Trump’s push for a summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim was driven in part by his desire for a diplomatic “win” to answer critics at home. More fundamentally, however, the White House is seeking a deal with Pyongyang, not so much over its nuclear programs, which pose no serious threat to the US, but rather to align itself with Washington against Beijing.
Following the Singapore summit, Trump declared that North Korea no longer posed a nuclear threat. His joint statement with Kim, however, spoke only in general terms about a commitment to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula—a phrase that can, and will be, interpreted differently.
The gulf between the two sides was highlighted earlier this month. Following negotiations in Pyongyang with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the North Korean regime issued a blistering denunciation of Washington’s “gangster-like” demands, saying they ran “counter to the spirit of the Singapore summit.”
In a bid to answer his critics at home, Trump on Tuesday…