Opposing view: This is the kind of deal-making we need more of
Last fall, President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were trading insults and threatening nuclear war. Fast-forward to the Singapore summit, and the two men are smiling and talking on the Island of Tranquility. Just like that, peace broke out.
The two leaders signed a statement that marked the beginning of a process for North Korea’s complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization. Progress on other issues may follow, such as improvement in human rights and political reform, economic openness and perhaps reunification with South Korea. We will see. But the two men have given birth to a new world of possibilities that no thoughtful person can see as anything but good.
Naturally, there has been no lack of criticism of the summit. But antiTrump mania drives most of the critical narrative, rather than a reasoned analysis of strategic opportunity. The president was mocked for being overconfident, even as he approached the summit with repeated cautions that perhaps nothing would result.
He was scoffed at for being an amateur in foreign policy, a reality TV star in over his head and ill-prepared. But, unlike Kim, Trump has spent his entire career making deals.
We saw a preview of the power dynamic when the president walked away from the table two weeks ago and North Korea blinked. Now the naysayers will have to eat their words. Trump the diplomatic novice is achieving what the cream of Ivy League-educated Washington swamp-dwellers could not.
Of course, we must recognize North Korea’s track record of cheating on previous agreements. It is possible that this is all a ruse, but it is unlikely that Kim is pulling a fast one.
He has too much to gain by sticking to the agreement and everything to lose by breaking it. If this is “seat of the pants negotiating,” as Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says, maybe we need more of it.
James S. Robbins, a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors, served as a special assistant in the office of the secretary of Defense in the George W. Bush administration.