Institute for the Study of Human Rights/
The Singapore Summit between President Donald J. Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un decreases the chances of catastrophic conflict, opening a channel for top-down communication. The prospect of nuclear war is less today that it was a few months ago. Talking is better than hurling insults or launching missiles.
Singapore was a public relations coup for Kim. He scored huge propaganda points. Sitting down with the U.S. President has been a goal of North Korean leaders for decades. The imagery of U.S. and North Korean flags side-by-side was a statement of Kim’s legitimacy to the international community.
The Singapore summit was an opportunity to leverage concessions. Instead, North Korea emerged the big winner. Trump proposed security guarantees to Kim and offered to discontinue “war games” with South Korea. The joint statement did not advance demands for a complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization. It did not mention North Korea’s missiles, nor did it address North Korea’s stock of chemical and biological agents. There is no time frame for conducting highly technical and complex negotiations.
Trump took a measure of Kim Jong-un. He concluded: Kim is “smart,” “a great negotiator” who “loves his people.” Trump turned a blind eye to Kim’s penchant for executing family members and political opponents. Kim sends thousands of North Koreans to forced labor camps. Millions starve, while Kim spends lavishly on himself and his military.
The Singapore Summit was an event made for television, casting Kim as a benevolent peacemaker and Trump as a statesman. Trump was ebullient, lauding Kim’s characters and good intentions. He heralded their “great relationship.” In his gut, Trump knows he was played. “I may be wrong,” said Trump. “I don’t think I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of excuse.”
13 June 2018