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June 5, 2018 | by  | in News Opinion | [ssba]

Trump the Flip-Flop

Trump’s flip-flopping on North Korea is starting to make me dizzy. Indeed, I am tempted to start calling him Donald Haviana Trump now, as homage to this most irksome of traits.
In the space of a couple of a months Trump has gone from threatening a nuclear holocaust, to making thinly veiled requests for a Nobel Peace Prize (as he was allegedly responsible for getting the North and South Korean leaders to sit down and hobnob for the first time), to eventually cancelling the planned summit in Singapore between his good self and Mr Kim. It appears however, not all is what it seems, and talk abounds that the summit might yet be back on, according to various reports from the BBC and Russian state news wire service TASS.
I maintain from the outset that any potential meeting between Messrs Trump and Kim would have been a spectacular own goal for the US and its interests, and an unparalleled win for the North Korean regime. After all Trump has very little to gain, realistically, and everything to lose from such a summit — owing to the unlikelihood of him receiving any tangible benefits. On the other side of the coin, Kim has nothing to lose and everything to gain in being recognised as a “legitimate” government and international actor.

Trump has offered numerous reasons for sabotaging the summit of 24 May, namely because North Korea wasn’t entering into “the spirit” of it.

Personally I think he was just trying to dodge the incoming bullet of Kim Jong-Un potentially cancelling the summit himself, after he did the same with a meeting with Moon Jae-In of South Korea on 19 May.
Cancellation of the summit came hot on the heels of the minting of a commemorative coin for the envisaged meeting in Singapore, with Trump and Kim’s busts facing each other on the reverse of the coin with the word “peace” above them. No-one in the US Government seems to take responsibility for this particular gaffe — an embarrassment regardless of whether or not said summit goes ahead.
According to CNN, Trump didn’t tell anyone he was going to spike the summit before his official announcement on the 24 May, and it appears that officials from both parties are now furiously trying to piece it back together again. In fact it is allegedly Trump himself — exhibiting the attention span of a gnat — who is furiously prodding his officials to get the meeting back on track.
Personally, I was never sold on the idea of a fruitful meeting between the titular head of the free world and the murderous little princeling of an antediluvian fiefdom. As I have said before, there would be every tangible benefit for North Korea and at best few benefits for the club of civilized nations. However, Trump’s method for negotiating would seem to be giving Kim a propaganda coup as he can now successfully — and not without just cause — portray himself as the “adult in the room”.

The summit could yet see the light of day, however, considering that as of 29 May, the White House has dispatched — with all haste — a team of negotiators to Pyongyang to salvage the deal; it is possible that we might yet see “peace in our time” between America and North Korea.
The structure of the summit, and its main sticking points, is unlikely to change if the meeting does go ahead. “Denuclearisation” is at the top of the agenda, although it would seem both sides have radically different ideas as to what this actually means. It is apparent that Kim has followed through on his promise to “destroy” his nuclear testing ground at Punggye-ri, as various media outlets released videos of plumes of smoke and dust rising from the site, as tunnels were sealed with explosives on 24 May. That being said, if the possible summit goes tits-up, it wouldn’t be especially hard for them to simply reopen the site and start letting off nukes left and right.
The most recent updates from — you guessed it — Twitter, indicate that the summit could tentatively be back on, with Trump tweeting on 28 May “I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial Nation one day, Kim Jong Un agrees with me on this. It will happen!”.
With more twists and take-backs than your average reality TV show, I — along with the rest of the world — eagerly anticipate the next episode in Love Island: The Trump & Kim Special.


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