The recent Singapore summit between president Trump and Kim Jong Un may not yield any substantive results or resolve any pressing issues; it may simple resort to the bellicose status quo, but it also may be an important first and bold step toward rapprochement, in much the same way that relations with China were initiated and over time, major hostilities subsided, in both word and deed.
North Korea has a history of deceit and duplicity in its agreements with the United States for promises to abate nuclear weapons development in exchange for foodstuffs. Pessimism is not unwarranted.
The Economist snootily calls the summit, “a triumph of showbiz over substance.” They further intone that the U.S., “must be tough-minded and eagle-eyed.” I’m not sure what The Economist said about Barack Obama’s decision to kick the can down the road when North Korea was on the cusp of producing missiles that could hit the United States. Obama also was stridently opposed to a missile defense technology. One wonders was this an example of the application of Europe’s and Obama’s preference for “soft power”?
Remember that when Nixon sent Kissinger to China, the expectations were rather low in terms of having an effect on tempering Communist ideology leveled at the “running-dog capitalists” and “imperialist stooges” — terms that were used continuously throughout the Cold War to describe the “paper tiger” America.
Nixon had an historic meeting with Mao Tse Tong and Chou en Lai — both audacious moments in diplomacy; he was the first American president to set foot on Chinese soil. The supreme irony is that Nixon was a die-hard anti-communist, a fact that was no secret to the Chinese. For those acerbic Trump critics, a history lesson is in order. The first concrete diplomatic step taken after Nixon met with Chinese leaders was a ping-pong match between the top United States team and their Chinese counterparts. At the time, this sporting event was a big deal. The whole world was watching. After the ping pong match other activities were scheduled; with each step the gap between the two countries narrowed.
The fact that China was still a communist country ideologically at odds with the United States was immaterial. As Nixon said at the time, “You can’t ignore a country of one billion people.
What is lost on those who have been critical, nay openly hostile, to Trump’s approach is that Nixon was the least likely politician to go to China. During the 1950’s and 60’s, he was a stout anti-Communist and adopted a hard line on communist aggression; he firmly believed in the domino theory.
Thus, “Nixon goes to China” was a phrase coined at the time and that signified a bold and wholly unexpected reversal of one’s long-held beliefs or policies.
Trump has taken a similar approach, dialing down the pugnacious rhetoric and taking a risk on a summit with a leader who has missiles that can incinerate cities on the West Coast.
For those anti-trump Bush Republican critics, a question: exactly what did either Bush do to insure that North Korea did not obtain offensive nuclear capabilities? What effective policy did any Republican president implement to thwart and parry North Koreas rapacious foreign policy?
I think the answer is they all did a splendid job following the kick-the-can-down the-road policy, later bequeathed to Obama.
And these establishment Republicans are attacking Trump?