While visiting President Donald Trump at his Florida resort, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not hesitate to give his host limitless credit for achieving what many, if not all, geopolitical experts thought was the impossible: Bringing North Korea back to the table in a major diplomatic coup.
“The background of this change is Donald’s unwavering conviction, as well as the determination that you demonstrated in addressing the issue of North Korea,” Abe told the president. “So your stance made it possible to achieve this major change.”
These comments immediately made Trump’s critics stand up and take notice. Why? Because there’s been a lot of talk lately that Trump is letting North Korea run roughshod toward a peace agreement with South Korea, the West, and the rest of the Pacific Region without actually promising to give up his nuclear arsenal. These so-called experts think that the wily Kim Jong Un is taking advantage of our president’s naivete and is going to extract an end to sanctions without truly giving up anything of worth.
These people continually underestimate Trump’s strength, his mind, and his ability to negotiate a deal, so we shouldn’t be surprised at their naysaying. Furthermore, they are desperate to avoid a situation where they have to cough up an admission that, crap, the guy actually accomplished something that the GREAT BARACK OBAMA could not accomplish. Oh, they really don’t want to admit that.
But there’s no way for them to pretend that Shinzo Abe is as soft-headed as they want to believe that Trump is. So for the Japanese prime minister to stand there and voice this kind of confidence in Trump’s foreign policy agenda is priceless in terms of silencing the administration’s critics. Abe would not be saying this if he thought there was a chance that North Korea would soon be left richer and more nuclearized than ever before.
No, it cannot be ignored that we’ve been down the “peace” road with North Korea several times before, only for the deal to turn out disastrously. We can’t deny that there is a chance that this will turn out the same way.
But we think that this time will be different. For one thing, Trump is taking diplomatic chances that his predecessors never would. He’s not scared of the criticism that bilateral talks with North Korea will inevitably generate, because the guy is criticized up one side and down the other every single day. Why not take a big risk and see if it pays off?
For another thing, Kim Jong Un knows there’s a chance that Trump – quite unlike Obama – will actually order a military strike against his regime if he feels it necessary to do so. That alone changes the equation considerably.
Worst case scenario: In another month or two, we’re back in the same old holding pattern with Kim, listening to him rant about his nukes. Maybe that’s where we’re headed. Hell, probably it is.
But for the first time in a long time, Trump has opened the door for another possibility. If he can see this through to the end, he will solidify his place in history forever.