Daniel R. DePetris
The more prepared Trump is, then the less likely it is that the North Koreans will take him for a ride.
President Donald Trump, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and their respective delegations are scheduled to finally meet in Singapore on June 12, the first time in history that an American and North Korean head-of-state will talk to one another directly. As Trump is fond of saying, the summit will be “yuuuge,” a groundbreaking event in the world of international diplomacy that will be covered around the world. Trump is all about publicity and the showmanship, no doubt relishing the opportunity to show his political adversaries that he has the stamina, strength, and intellect to do what every other U.S. president could not: denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
Assuming the summit next month is still on (Pyongyang has been making noise of late that it will cancel the meeting if Washington doesn’t lower its triumphalist tone), everything will need to go right if Trump hopes to fly back to Washington with positive diplomatic news to boast about at home. As successive U.S. administrations have discovered at one point or another, negotiating with the North Koreans about anything—let alone about its treasured nuclear weapons program—is an exceedingly difficult enterprise with numerous sinkholes and steep hills along the way. It is now Donald Trump’s chance to display to his foreign counterparts that he is indeed the world’s most preeminent dealmaker. He can help himself by following these five tips:
Keep John Bolton off the Negotiating Team
If there is any single American the Kim regime disdains with a red-hot passion, it is Trump’s current national-security adviser. John Bolton has been a caste member of international arms control for decades, even serving as the State Department’s top nonproliferation official during President George W. Bush’s first term. Bolton knows his brief, so it would only be natural for him to have some role in the upcoming nuclear talks between the United States and North Korea.