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A Trump Doctrine for Singapore and Beyond
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After Pyongyang railed this week that the U.S.-South Korean Max Thunder military drills were a rehearsal for an invasion of the North, and imperiled the Singapore summit, the Pentagon dialed them back.

The B-52 exercises alongside F-22 stealth fighters were canceled.

But Pyongyang had other objections.

Sunday, NSC adviser John Bolton spoke of a “Libyan model” for the North’s disarmament, referring to Moammar Gadhafi’s surrender of all his weapons of mass destruction in 2004. The U.S. was invited into Libya to pick them up and cart

them off, whereupon sanctions were lifted.

As Libya was subsequently attacked by NATO and Gadhafi lynched, North Korea denounced Bolton and all this talk of the “Libyan model” of unilateral disarmament.

North Korea wants a step-by-step approach, each concession by Pyongyang to be met by a U.S. concession. And Bolton sitting beside Trump, and across the table from Kim Jong Un in Shanghai, may be inhibiting.

What was predictable and predicted has come to pass.

If we expected Kim to commit at Singapore to Bolton’s demand for “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization,” and a swift follow-through, we were deluding ourselves.

At Singapore, both sides will have demands, and both will have to offer concessions, if there is to be a deal.

What does Kim Jong Un want?

An end to U.S. and South Korean military exercises and sanctions on the North, trade and investment, U.S. recognition of his regime, a peace treaty, and the eventual removal of U.S. bases and troops.

He is likely to offer an end to the testing of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, no transfer of nuclear weapons or strategic missiles to third powers, a drawdown of troops on the DMZ, and the opening of North Korea’s borders to trade and travel.

As for his nuclear weapons and the facilities to produce them, these are Kim’s crown jewels. These brought him to the attention of the world and the Americans to the table. These are why President Trump is flying 10,000 miles to meet and talk with him.

And, unlike Gadhafi, Kim is not going to give them up.

Assuming the summit comes off June 12, this is the reality Trump will face in Singapore: a North Korea willing to halt the testing of nukes and ICBMs and to engage diplomatically and economically.

As for having Americans come into his country, pick up his nuclear weapons, remove them and begin intrusive inspections to ensure he has neither nuclear bombs nor the means to produce, deliver or hide them, that would be tantamount to a surrender by Kim.

Trump is not going to get that. And if he adopts a Bolton policy of “all or nothing,” he is likely to get nothing at all.

Yet, thanks to Trump’s threats and refusal to accept a “frozen conflict” on the Korean peninsula, the makings of a real deal are present, if Trump does not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

For there is nothing North Korea is likely to demand that cannot be granted, as long as the security of South Korea is assured to the degree that it can be assured, while living alongside a nuclear-armed North.

Hence, when Kim cavils or balks in Singapore, as he almost surely will, at any demand for a pre-emptive surrender of his nuclear arsenal, Trump should have a fallback position.

If we cannot have everything we want, what can we live with?

Moreover, while we are running a risk today, an intransigent North Korea that walks out would be running a risk as well.


A collapse in talks between Kim and the United States and Kim and South Korea would raise the possibility that he and his Chinese patrons could face an East Asia Cold War where South Korea and Japan also have acquired nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.

In the last analysis, the United States should be willing to accept both the concessions to the North that the South is willing to make and the risks from the North that the South is willing to take.

For, ultimately, they are the one who are going to have to live on the same peninsula with Kim and his nukes.

Trump ran on a foreign policy that may fairly be described as a Trump Doctrine: In the post-post-Cold War era, the United States will start looking out for America first.

This does not mean isolationism or the abandonment of our allies. It does mean a review and reassessment of all the guarantees we have issued to go to war on behalf of other countries, and the eventual transfer of responsibility for the defense of our friends over to our friends.

In the future, the U.S. will stop futilely imploring allies to do more for their own defense and will begin telling them that their defense is primarily their own responsibility. Our allies must cease to be our dependents.

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

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  1. I agree with Pat Buchanan’s last sentence that “Our allies must cease to be our dependents,” a better term would have been our “vassals,” such as Germany, Japan, South Korea and all the other minions. Kim Jong Un would be out of his mind giving up his nuclear arsenal for an American promise, especially under Donald Trump. His words mean nothing.

    But doesn’t it look like as if the military industrial, financial complex (MIFC)is doing everything to scuffle the summit? These people are not interested in detente; they want you to profit from the production of deadly weapons. The most interesting consequence of a real deal between the U.S. and North Korea would be the withdrawal of US occupation forces from South Korea and Japan, which both countries should be interested most.

    It’s unlikely that the Deep State and the MIFC will allow that’s to happen. Warmonger John Bolton and other war-prone hawks have already planned with their phrase of the “Libyan Model” that should use in the North Korean case to complicate the upcoming meeting or even preventing it from happening.

    Besides that, all the vassals, including Israel, should defend themselves without US help, even if they would start an attack on Iran, which Israel is planning with the secret agreement of the Trump administration.

    • Replies: @Per/Norway
  2. Our “dependents” are some of our best customers. Allowing peace to break out on the Peninsula might be good for America and Americans in general, it won’t be so good for our major corporations, arms merchants, and the Deep State, so Bolton will be working to the utmost to ensure North Korea remains a clear and present danger for as long as possible.

    • Replies: @ohmy
  3. KenH says:

    Kim Jong Un should demand Bolton shave his goofy mustache as a pre-condition to the upcoming meeting.

    If Bolton is demanding a Libyan model after the whole world saw what happened to Gadaffi then he’s either really stupid or attempting to sabotage the summit and create a pretext for regime change. Kim will be portrayed as unreasonable and unyielding by the many neocon agents in media, both on the kosher right and kosher left.

    Bolton has one concern and one love and that is the bandit state Israel, so we can’t expect him to promote an America first policy or act in our best interests.

    • Agree: Mishra
    • Replies: @Rurik
  4. Virgile says:

    Contrary to its claims, Israel is a weak country as they are not ready to sacrifice any of their soldiers to defend themselves. Any Israeli government that would allow that will be toppled on the spot and will cause a deep political crisis that can bring down the country. Therefore without the USA, Israel will cease to exist as a country.
    The whole strategy of Israel is to keep the USA involved in the region and sufficiently threatened by the Arabs and the Iranians that they will stay in the region and protect Israel
    As for the EU, it is time they stop showing their strength by aggressing weak countries in the world while counting on the USA for the large threats. Altermatively they should avoid threats by favoring peace dialogs.

  5. Rurik says:

    Trump Doctrine: In the post-post-Cold War era, the United States will start looking out for America first.

    there’s a scene from some movie I vaguely remember, when a corporate executive is speaking to his subordinate about operating the corporation with compassion, and the subordinate is utterly baffled, and then a ‘light’ goes off, and he assumes there must be bugs recording the conversation, and then he ‘gets it’, and starts to agree fulsomely that yes, ‘we must be more compassionate!’

    If Trump actually were interested in an ‘America first’ policy, then I suspect that such a thing would be so alien to the swamp creatures, that they’d be like that subordinate, and assume Trump is simply play acting, (as he probably is).

    Because putting America first, in the bowels of DC (with J-Street and K-Street and AIPAC and all those lobbyists slithering around) would be such radical, existential, 180° change of direction, as to be incomprehensible to that crowd.

    The idea of governing for the benefit of the American people, is like the owner of a 18th century slave ship deciding to do a 180, and operate the vessel in order to pamper his passengers like royalty, rather than to profit from their exploitation.

    I can only imagine Jeff Sessions (or Lindsey Graham or whatever) in a meeting with Trump, and Trump telling him ‘we need to drain the swamp’, and Sessions being gob smacked, until that light goes off, and he figures they’re being recorded, and then steps into character; ‘yes, yes of course, it’s about time we drain the swamp. The American people deserve better !’

    that whole rotten cabal of swindlers and crooks have been entrenched in Washington, DC for decades now. They all know the score, ‘the American people are sheep to be fleeced, nothing more. They exist to provide the swamp with wealth and cannon fodder. Period.

    If anything, the culture in DC is one of visceral hatred for Heritage America. Not only are they not about to put ‘America first’, but in their heart of hearts they’d love nothing more than to crush the spirit of what America used to stand for (rugged individualism, accountability, guns, God and grit) under a sky filled with terror drones and total police surveillance state, which is exactly what they’re working on.

    In a way, I see what happened at Mandalay Bay in Vegas to be like a typical Washington, DC ideologue, who snapped and unleashed his righteous vengeance upon a (racist) America that represented everything that DC hates with a netherworld insanity.

    put these people first?!

    ‘over my dead body!’

  6. An end to U.S. and South Korean military exercises and sanctions on the North, trade and investment, U.S. recognition of his regime, a peace treaty, and the eventual removal of U.S. bases and troops.

    Whoa Fat isn’t going to get an end to military exercises. That’s a demand no sovereign country can grant. If he doesn’t give up nukes, then no dice. He gets nothing. There is no possible fall back position. Such things were tried at Munich and we’ve already seen where such things lead. He gives them up, or the sanctions remain. He’s being offered his survival. Turn denuclearization down, and he is choosing death.

  7. Rurik says:

    Bolton has one concern and one love and that is the bandit state Israel, so we can’t expect him to promote an America first policy or act in our best interests.</blockquote>

    the opposite, in fact

  8. @Ludwig Watzal

    the problem for us in vassal countries is the threats we face if we dont comply to the empires wishes.
    just take a look at the nordic countries, where they have filled Sweden with sleeper cells and enough weapons to start a war. there are probably tens of thousands terrorist just waiting to unleash terror and destabilize all 4 nordic countries.
    that is the sad reality we live in after ww2, imagine the hell that will be unleashed in Europe when the petrodollar collapses. years of wars because of an empire and its dreams of power. i believe that you Americans will finally learn the price to, unless the empire decide to die peacefully in its sleep and go into history quietly.. i bear no hope for that i admit, not with todays US politicians and diplomats.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  9. Rurik says:

    there are probably tens of thousands terrorist just waiting to unleash terror and destabilize all 4 nordic countries.

    who’s promoting all that immigration?

    someone once tried to warn Europe (and Scandinavia) against the bankers/Bolsheviks/Zionist’s fratricidal wars to destroy Europe

    Europe is standing on the brink of the greatest tragedy in the history of the human race: a new world war, that may involve the doom of our entire civilization.

    and doom our entire civilization it has (which was always the point ; )

  10. Alfa158 says:

    LOL! He actually used the term “Libyan model” !? “We came, we saw, he died! Cackle, cackle cackle”.
    I know Bolton, Clinton, Bush and the rest are basically an un-indicted war criminals, but I somehow didn’t expect Bolton to be actually stupid as well. I suppose it must be a function of thinking you are part of a power structure that can’t be challenged, therefore you are immune to the consequences of anything you do or say.
    As history demonstrates, dominant power structures are immune right up to the time when they aren’t.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  11. MarkinLA says:

    For there is nothing North Korea is likely to demand that cannot be granted, as long as the security of South Korea is assured to the degree that it can be assured, while living alongside a nuclear-armed North.

    North Korea cannot overwhelm South Korea with conventional forces and a nuclear attack makes the place useless for the North. This whole “security” nonsense is a red herring. There is really nothing to threaten SK. However, the US (and the SK) governments have to keep up the charade in order deceive the average American that we are needed there. The government of the south probably wants us out but has to manuever carefully because the neocons in the US don’t want us to leave under any circumstance.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  12. Anonymous [AKA "Gina\'s Palestinian Hanging"] says:

    The US actually does have a power structure that can’t be challenged, not domestically.

    CIA installed unindicted war criminal and hostis humani generis Gina Haspel by subjecting the Senate to the parliamentary equivalent of shackling them in shit, lice, and cockroaches for weeks, then scrubbing their anus and balls with a ki-yi brush and then brushing their teeth with it. CIA is not just breaking random wogs like Nashiri, they’re humiliating, degrading, and breaking the Senate.

  13. ohmy says:
    @The Alarmist

    As the USA threatens and, blackmails allies into increasing their defense budgets our defense contractors are busy betting long, on their self.

  14. KenH says:

    Our allies must cease to be our dependents.

    Totally agree but a militarily multipolar world is not good for Israel or the goy militarists in the U.S. military. We castrated Western Europe, especially Germany, after WWII and now they’ve forgotten the fine art of war that they perfected over many centuries in addition to having no stomach for it which will allow the Muslims and Africans to conquer them with nary a shot fired.

  15. A ‘nuclearized’ Japan and a ‘nuclearized South Korea will solve the problem of the ‘nuclearised’ North Korea wonderfully.

  16. @Per/Norway

    The problem for us in vassal countries is the threats we face if we don’t comply to the empires wishes.

    Nah, Per, you can’t put everything on us US. I am in agreement with you, Rurik et al, about ending this empire and the war-mongering, and getting us out of everywhere that’s not a direct threat to the continental US and Alaska (yeah, fuck Hawaii, the volcanoes will take care of them anyway).

    However, you can’t blame the US for your Norwegian people’s (Sweden’s even more so) inviting in immigrants from all over the 3rd world. You bunch of left-wing Socialists, with your disdain for those xenophobic racists across the pond, thought you knew better didn’t you? Just assimilate them all to be nice, good, non-violent Scandinavian citizens. Riiiightt….

    You people brought this crap on yourself – “When you point your finger ’cause your plans fell through, you’ve got three more fingers pointing at you, YEAH!”

    • Replies: @Per/Norway
  17. @MarkinLA


    It seems that lately Mr. Buchanan has been getting mired down in the details rather than keeping it simple – GET US OUT!

    It’s been 65 damn years since the truce between the US(S. Korea) and China (N. Korea). 65 years! North Korea is absolutely no threat to the US of America. Who cares about the talks and what deals are going on? I didn’t even read much of this column, and I didn’t read the last 2 or 3 because the titles say it all. Don’t get sucked into these details.

    It’s really simple – Ron Paul is the only politician I’ve heard lately who makes this clear and simple.

  18. Renoman says:

    Korea does not need the US, they have Samsung, Hyundai and many others to keep them afloat, if Kim makes peace with the South he can build a road and a railway, join the silk road project and bring great prosperity to his country. Plenty of markets on that route and Russia and China will not allow the US to wave it’s big dick around. Trump needs to reach a congenial reasonable deal or he will get no deal at all. Not much difference either way to Kim.

  19. Escher says:

    I won’t be surprised if Trump somehow pulls this off. For all one knows the statement by Bolton was deliberately timed to rattle Kim’s cage before the summit and make him more amenable.

  20. @Achmed E. Newman

    i dont blame you yanks for everything,, we were blind to.. Sweden didnt get this way by itself, the Swedes turned a blind eye and lost their country that is true.. but you are right abt the socialist part, that we chose. it worked pretty well until the 70`s tbh.. not so much these days. i just hope we dont make the same mistakes after the war that is coming.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
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