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President Donald Trump appears to belong to what might be called the Benjamin Disraeli school of diplomacy.

The British prime minister once counseled, “Everyone likes flattery; and when you come to Royalty you should lay it on with a trowel.”

At his Singapore summit, Trump smartly saluted a North Korean general and then lavished praise on Kim Jong Un as a “strong guy” with a “good personality” and a “great negotiator.” “He’s funny, and … very, very smart … and a very strategic kind of a guy. … His country does love him.”

Predictably, Trump is being scourged for this.

Yet, during his trip to Peking in 1972, Richard Nixon did not confront Chairman Mao on his history of massacres and murder, though Nixon’s visit came in the midst of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, a nationwide pogrom.

Nor did Churchill or FDR at their wartime summits confront their ally Stalin for his legendary crimes against humanity. Both gushed over “Uncle Joe.”

Still, if the Trump-Kim camaraderie goes south and the crisis of 2017, when war seemed possible, returns, Trump, as he concedes, will be charged with naivety for having placed his trust in such a tyrant.

Yet, to Trump’s credit, we are surely at a better place than we were a year ago when Kim was testing hydrogen bombs and ICBMs, and he and Trump were trading threats and insults in what seemed the prelude to a new Korean War.

Whatever one may think of his diplomacy, Trump has, for now, lifted the specter of nuclear war from the Korean peninsula and begun a negotiating process that could lead to tolerable coexistence.

The central questions to emerge from the summit are these: What does Kim want, and what is he willing to pay for it?

Transparently, he does not want a war with the United States. That black cloud has passed over. Second, Kim and North Korea have emerged from their isolation in as dramatic a fashion as did Mao’s China in 1972.

In 2018, the North was invited to the Seoul Olympics. Kim met twice with South Korea’s president and twice with China’s Xi Jinping. Vladimir Putin’s foreign minister stopped by. And Kim had a face-to-face summit with a U.S. president, something his grandfather and father never came close to achieving.

It is unlikely Kim will be retreating back into the cloisters of the Hermit Kingdom after being courted by the world’s foremost powers.

What does Trump have on offer to induce Kim to end the lifetime of hostility? It is a long menu of what Kim can expect if he will surrender his nuclear weapons and dismantle the factories and facilities that produce them.

Among the benefits proffered: recognition of his dynasty and U.S. security guarantees, an end of sanctions, foreign investment, a peace treaty signed by the United States to replace the 65-year-old armistice and the eventual withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Korean peninsula.

Trump has already attended to one of Kim’s complaints. The joint military exercises we have conducted annually with South Korea for decades have been declared by Trump to be “war games” and “very provocative” and have been suspended.

What is being asked of Kim in return?

He must provide an inventory of all nuclear weapons and where they are hidden, surrender them all, dismantle his plutonium and uranium production plants, and shut down his testing sites, all under the watch of U.S.-approved inspectors.

He must renounce any and all nuclear weapons forever, and accept a regime of international inspections that would guarantee he never cheats on that commitment.

Here is where the crunch comes. Kim is being told that he must give up the weapons whose very possession by him are the reason why the world powers are paying him heed.


As leader of a country with a per capita income smaller than Haiti’s, Kim is being told he must surrender the weapons that placed him and North Korea in the world’s most exclusive club, to which only eight other nations belong: the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan and Israel.

Will Kim, whose nuclear weapons have enabled him to strut on the world stage and trade insults with the president of the United States, give them up to become the leader of a poor backward nation, with half the population of South Korea and not even 4 percent of the economy of the South?

Will he give up his most reliable deterrent against an attack by the United States or China?

In the Kim-Trump relationship, this is where the rubber meets the road. Kim has seen how Americans treat nations — like Gadhafi’s Libya, Saddam’s Iraq, and Iran — that decline to develop or surrender the kind of weapons his country took decades to plan, test, produce and deploy.

Should Kim give up his nukes, what U.S. president would fly halfway around the world to meet him one-to-one?

Hence the crucial question: Will he ever really give them up?

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

Copyright 2018

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, North Korea 
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  1. anon[358] • Disclaimer says:

    Trump and the NORKs are ignoring “human Rights”. Whatever deal gets made, no one cares much about the oppressed NORKs.

    The never Trump crowd is bloviating about Kim as irredeemable. Trump is weighing doing a deal or nuking them. If you frame it that way — a deal is very human rights positive.
    But lets nuke em to save em.

    • Replies: @Ben Sampson
  2. WHAT says:

    China and staged reunification with South is a far better security guarantee for Kim than mildly out-of-the-loop US president.
    So of course he will be keeping his deterrent.

    • Replies: @artichoke
  3. Anon[379] • Disclaimer says:

    Yet, during his trip to Peking in 1972, Richard Nixon did not confront Chairman Mao on his history of massacres and murder, though Nixon’s visit came in the midst of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, a nationwide pogrom.

    But Mao did mention they were both mass murderers: “History is a symptom of our disease.”

    And US rehabilitated many Japanese war criminal butchers back to power and used them as allies against communism.

  4. KenH says:

    Here is where the crunch comes. Kim is being told that he must give up the weapons whose very possession by him are the reason why the world powers are paying him heed.

    I’m no fan or admirer of Kim Jon Un, but this is Kim’s big gamble. Yes, the respect he’s accorded is due to the weaponry he wields. The U.S. has demonstrated that it can’t be trusted and even if Trump keeps his commitments Kim has to consider that they may not outlive Trump’s presidency.

    Perhaps China has given him guarantees if the U.S. reneges. Kim should be ok as long as he doesn’t threaten Israel’s interests but then again that didn’t save Gaddafi.

  5. NickyTee says:

    Here is article that explains why North Korea has a long history of distrust with the United States:

    Military decisions that were made during the Korean War have resulted in a long period of diplomatic isolation.

  6. artichoke says:

    “China” and “reunification with the South” can’t both happen though. China will not accept a US ally on its border. So NK has a special role to play, as a buffer state, mostly disarmed but with strong security guarantees. I’d expect China may end up with inspection rights too, to make sure we’re not building a threat on China’s border.

    And Russia will be trying to sabotage this loss of their nuclear wildcard state in every way they can.

  7. Pat Buchanan misses a fundamental aspect of US-NK relations: South Korea and Japan.
    South Korea and Japan are top industrial and economic powerhouses of the region. They have enormous economic clout and muscle in their region to trump Trump’s silly fantasies of military action in the peninsula any time.
    In the 1990’s South Koreans told the Americans that they could just “Pack and Go” when Clinton Administration was seriously contemplating a military solution to North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear technology. Today there is also the much greater added weight of Japan’s economic and physical security at stake.
    That Americans can just brush aside South Korean and Japanese concerns and start a devastating war on the Peninsula, hardly merits serious consideration.
    The future:
    () North Korea will not give up its newly acquired nuclear might.
    () The US, with Trump at the helm, will grudgingly cut military costs by planning a withdrawal from South Korea and Japan.
    () Trump will nudge Japan and South Korea to acquire nuclear capabilities of their own. This would wonderfully solve the military threat stemming from North Korea and work as a deterrence to Chinese ambitions in the region.

    • Replies: @myself
  8. Whatever happens in Korea north or south will never be as damaging as our illegal immigration posture . . .

  9. “Richard Nixon did not confront Chairman Mao on his history of massacres and murder, though Nixon’s visit came in the midst of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, a nationwide pogrom”.


    For Mao’s record, read

    For the Cultural Revolution, read

  10. Virgile says:

    Kim will not renounce to his master card for promises and deals that can be broken as no one guarantees them . The Iranian got the lesson. they havent detroyed anything, they kept everything ready to restart any time the US changes its mind or its attitude.
    Kim will keep all his research and factories and will allow as much inspection as Pakistan, India and Israel allow!
    North Korea is a nuclear weapon country and that will not change. The US has to stop the sanctions and treat North Korea as it treats Pakistan , India or Israel. What the USA could do is facilitate the integration of North Korea and south Korea and stop discouraging good relations with Japan and China. North Korea can keep its weapons for defense.
    If Israel has nuclear weapons to defend itself fron non-nuclear enemies, why shouldn’t North Korea treated the same way?

  11. @anon

    the key to this appears to be getting the US out of the Korean Peninsula….
    the deal is…DPRK’s nukes for america going home.

    Russia and China will have the DPRK’s back in that event..but that will hardly be the issue for long, as the Koreas re-unite and become one nation again, under the drive of Asian connectivity/BRI development.

    once the US is gone the Koreans will quickly evolve into something new all entirely making american concerns moot, irrelevant…no need to even think of Korea as they do now. those terms are dead…as soon as america gets out of the way.

    the US military presence and the continuing state of war with the DPRK is the problem for is about to be solved unless the crazy neo cons sabotage the process

    • Replies: @anon
  12. anon[275] • Disclaimer says:
    @Ben Sampson

    Korea has to find a way of avoiding the tentacles that tie the countries to US on inequal finacial platform . Otherwise a denuclearized united Korea will not be able to circumvent lobby driven American foreign policy . EU’s failures to stand up on Iran should disabuse any nation from entertaining such a thought .Only a global dismantling of the current financial system can remove the punitive control America exerts on the rest .

  13. Dr. Doom says:

    President Kardashian couldn’t schmooze Taylor Swift. He might look pretty cool next to Jeb Bush or Kanye West, but even Barney Fife or Jethro Bodine would outcool those two bottom of the gene pool clowns. Just the fact he would do a photo with Donkey Kong Kanye be any dumber shows how stupid this old man really is here. Only the Never Trump Cucks of The Stupid Loser Party would even clap for that clueless meander of a pander. If you want to pander to blacks, that’s your mistake right there. These dumbasses are the friends you WANT your enemies to have.
    Kim didn’t get played. China gave Trump and his neocons the Finger. Since China was in the First Korean War, it was pretty obvious that the Goof Troop of neocon clowncars were about to Meet Survivor: Tibet near Pyongyang. Japan wasn’t about to get any more reason for Godzilla movies so this fool and Bolton the Pitbull that peed on Bush could have a Banker War.
    Uncle Sham is now a Broke Dick Dog. All that Anti-White and giving loans to diversity has made him about as impressive as an old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn. These neocons probably have one load left. I’m sure Bibi and Likud want Trump to blow his load near the Ayatollah.

    Trump will be back. He’s like a neighbor that has nothing better to do all day. He and the henhouse of neocons are about to have The Last Tangle in Tehran. Lets hope this old BUTTERBALL Turkey can still get it up.

    • Replies: @Ben Sampson
  14. This isn’t a gamble. China has the whip hand when it comes to North Korea, and Trump and China are going to trade weakening his announced tariffs in exchange for China making North Korea sign off on Trump’s glittering foreign policy success.

    I’m not objecting — just pointing out what I think is going on.

  15. myself says:
    @Aren Haich

    Trump will nudge Japan and South Korea to acquire nuclear capabilities of their own

    No, Trump and the United States will probably NOT do THAT, for the simple reason of very obvious self-interest.

    Nudging Japan and South Korea to build nukes would probably cause China to “nudge” 2 or 3 nations in Latin America to build nukes as well. Possession by Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, all middle-tier economies capable of maintaining small but sufficient deterrents (say a few score strategic missiles each) would be problematic for American security, to put it mildly.

    All three Latin American nations are, on a very good day, neutral towards America. At this stage in history, none lean in our direction, even if not overtly opposed to us.

    American allies acquiring WMD would be America directly, for all intents and purposes, threatening China.

    This is the same reason America has not encouraged either Turkey or Germany to build nuclear weapons, in spite of America’s hatred for all things Russian.

    Far, far too destabilizing and obviously confrontational to be worth any consideration, IMHO.

    • Replies: @Aren Haich
  16. @myself

    There are obvious constraints that will hinder any Latin American country to acquire nuclear weapon capability. China will have a very difficult time panning out such a scheme for obvious reasons of geography and inducement.
    Furthermore, there is the unresolved question of Taiwan’s status. American leverage over China by threatening to arm Taiwan with nuclear weapons trumps all similar countermeasures that China may contemplate in Latin America.
    We have to be realistic. Global order is breaking down right before our eyes. Nuclear disarmament on a global scale was never a realistic proposition and is an impossible vision In our chaotic world. More and more nations or group of nations will seek nuclear capability to ensure their security. In a decade or two, we will probably see a relaxation of legal terms for acquiring nuclear capability. There will, however, be very tough and strict internationally agreed nuclear punishments to be meted out for any “first use” of nuclear weapons by any power.

  17. @Dr. Doom

    the butterball will get baked in Tehran, sliced with pickle onions and tomato on white, rye and dark brown toast..even for turkey foot longs – delicious with mayo and lettuce… with the dark meat and bones for the soup later.

    forget about Iran unless the butterball and the Kibutzim are ready for the end of it all. Iran is going to to make the Goy and the Jew pay and pay in much that they will resort to nukes. and that’s all she wrote

    the butterball’s peter is not large enough this time and he will reach for the 2-foot the dismay of the planet.

    how much do we all have again….not much. too much insanity around the levers, too much loss for them to cope with. they are old enough not to care about life after them. if we want to live on we are on our own

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