Dear Commons Community,
New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof weighs in this morning on President Trump’s decision to meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Kristof does not see this as a good idea and fears that Trump is being played by Kim and that there needs to be more diplomatic foundation building before such a meeting occurs. Below is an excerpt that provides the core of Kristof’s thinking.
“It’s infinitely better that North Korea and the United States exchange words rather than missiles.
Yet President Trump’s decision to meet Kim Jong-un strikes me as a dangerous gamble and a bad idea. I’m afraid that North Korea may be playing Trump, and that in turn Trump may be playing us.
I fear that Trump is being played because at the outset, apparently in exchange for nothing clear-cut, he has agreed to give North Korea what it has long craved: the respect and legitimacy that comes from the North Korean leader standing as an equal beside the American president. And I worry that we in the media and the public are being played because this is a way for Trump to change the subject from a Russia investigation and a porn actress to himself as Great Peacemaker.
To be clear, I’m all for negotiations. Ever since I began covering North Korea in the 1980s, I’ve favored direct talks between the United States and North Korea, and I’ve called on Trump to send emissaries to meet Kim Jong-un.
But direct talks should be conducted by seasoned diplomats, offering an eventual summit meeting only as a carrot at the end of the process — and only if the summit serves some purpose higher than changing the headlines in the U.S. and legitimizing Kim’s regime abroad. A face-to-face should advance the interests of two countries, not just two leaders.
There’s a misperception that the North Koreans’ offer of a direct meeting is a grand concession. Not at all. It’s something they’ve been seeking for decades, but past presidents refused.
So a summit constitutes a huge gift to Kim, and it’s puzzling that our Great Dealmaker should give up so much right off the bat.”