The Trump-Kim summit is tomorrow (Singapore time), and I guess I’ll weigh in on it – mostly just because they’re both staying about a five-minute walk away on either side of me.
Everyone has to wish that this meeting works out. Even if this could mean an easier path to a second term for Trump, everyone has to wish for this to succeed.
But what’s success? I think the only measure that there can be is that there is a concrete step toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
But what are the chances that that’s going to happen? Virtually zero.
In my reading of the situation, above all else Kim wants security. He wants to know that he and his regime can stay in power. In a world where the US names countries to an “Axis of Evil” and overthrows nations with every new presidency, the only reasonable and solid guarantee he could create for himself was a nuclear deterrent. Now he has it, and he’s not going to give it up.
So, based on that reality, this whole thing is for show. Kim gets what he wants in international recognition and stature. Trump gets what he wants in basically the same terms, except he’d love a shot at getting the Nobel Peace Prize.
But if this fails, neither one of them loses anything. We just return to the status quo, and they can each leave, blaming the other for why it didn’t work out. Just see their Twitter feeds for how they’ll go about that. There simply is no downside to this meeting for them. It’s only upside.
Meanwhile, according to Singapore’s prime minister, the country is shelling out SG$20 million (about US$15 million) for this event (although who knows who might cover all the costs in the end, really), and I can’t get deliveries to my condo since I’m in one of the secure zones. (Well, okay, that last part is a bit petty.)
Again, let’s hope for success. But that’s not where I’d put my money.
P.S. I am not a fan of Trump, but that doesn’t mean I disagree with everything he does. I actually see this as a welcome shake-up of the dynamic with North Korea. But there’s been so little planning – it’s so much off the cuff – that it seems unlikely that this will go anywhere.