Roger L. Simon

Is Trump Unprepared to Negotiate with Kim?

Gasp! Gasp!  Trump is going all the way to Singapore to wing it with Kim Jong-un! What does he think he’s doing — negotiating for a golf course?

At least that’s what we’re being led to believe by news reports, including this one from TNS.

President Donald Trump unabashedly confirmed reports that he’s not doing much to prepare for next week’s historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, unlike his predecessors who spent hours with advisers and briefing books before such high-stakes meetings.

“I think I’m very well prepared,” Trump said Thursday at the outset of an Oval Office meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude,” he said. “I think I’ve been prepared for this summit for a long time, as has the other side.”

What, no briefing books?  Doesn’t the president know how well they worked for presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama when they and their envoys negotiated with North Korea in the past? Oh, wait…

And, come to think of it, didn’t Obama and Kerry have briefing books, filled with expertise, when they negotiated the Iran deal that gave the mullahs all the money upfront, including millions in untraceable cash, allowing them to run rampant all over the Middle East?

Just the other day we learned that that administration also secretly gave the Iranians use of the U.S. financial system to the tune of billions while lying about it to the public and Congress. What brilliant negotiators. What briefing books!

And while we’re at it, did Neville Chamberlain also have briefing books at Munich?  I wouldn’t bet against it.

Okay, enough already. There’s a serious question behind all this about the value of experts.  No one doubts their use in areas like open-heart surgery, but foreign affairs is far from a science.  Indeed, it can and often does become hidebound and ritualized.  Think the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Sometimes it may be better to know less, to approach the situation like a layman, not a so-called expert, to deal as a person.

Further, most of us, and we can assume Donald Trump, do know the basics about North Korea and the murderous Kim family. They are people willing to starve and/or murder their own people to have a enough wherewithal to build nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. Indeed, they think of those (nearly obtained) weapons of mass destruction as the linchpins of their regime, the Kim family ticket to self-preservation.

Whether that has changed is what we and the president are going to find out.  Is Kim prepared to take the risk of denuclearization for the chance at an affluent country?  Does he care?

Of course, there is a lot more to it, including the role of China, but the real question is who would you trust to negotiate the U.S. and the world out of this mess — some diplomatic veteran of twenty-three visits to Pyongyang or Donald Trump?  I would imagine most objective observers would, reluctantly or not, choose Trump.

That won’t stop his critics for a second. Chuck Schumer, on Twitter, is clearly “worried,” or pretending to be: “With ICBMs and nuclear warheads in the hands of North Korea, the situation is far too dangerous for seat of the pants negotiating.”

Many of these critics — in a sad commentary on human nature — would unconsciously or even consciously prefer the negotiations to fail than to deliver Trump such a significant victory.  Call this Trump Envy that is now superseding Trump Derangement Syndrome as the president is appearing more successful and seems likely to serve a second term.  In a way, that’s a form of progress.

Roger L. Simon – co-founder and CEO Emeritus of PJ Media – is an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and novelist.



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