Op­pos­ing view: This is the kind of deal-mak­ing we need more of

USA TODAY International Edition - - NEWS | OPINION - James S. Rob­bins

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.

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