By Jackson Richman
On Thursday night, South Korea’s national security adviser announced U.S. President Donald Trump has accepted an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the latter’s nuclear weapons program, to be fulfilled by May.
This accepted invitation is a pointless exercise.
North Korea has frequently demonstrated a pause-launch-launch-pause rhythm, tracing back to at least 2006. The Kim family has taken advantage of speculation of diplomatic talks and other gestures to run out the clock in building a nuclear warhead that could hit the U.S., maybe within “a handful of months,” according to CIA director Mike Pompeo.
Were that to be the case, North Korea coming to the table is likely a ruse in that a pause in enriching would only be minor since the hermit kingdom would be close to a nuclear bomb anyway. Hence, there would be no reason of going back.
On Fox News on Friday, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said North Korea wants to talk now to “divert our attention to get us enmeshed yet again in negotiations, to get across that finish line.”
“We’ve talked to North Korea on and off, directly and indirectly, for 25 years. We have failed, obviously, to stop the program,” Bolton said. “There’s no reason to think that with them a few yards away from the finish line in Year 26, they’re suddenly going to get serious.”
“Indeed, I come to the opposite conclusion,” Bolton added.
Bolton told WMAL in Washington on Friday, “North Korea is very close to having a capacity to hit targets in the United States with nuclear weapons and their playbook said that when you get that close, start negotiations with the United States, throw some dust in the air, distract them for six months, nine months, whatever it takes.”
“And then you can announce, ‘Well, we now we’ve got the capability we’ve been after for 30 years, and you’re home free,” Bolton added.
Reasons to think the upcoming talks would be worthwhile such as because Trump is “unorthodox,” “a deal-maker,” “a history-maker,” “a freelancer,” and “a reality TV star” – reasons given by CNN’s Chris Cillizza – are all ludicrous.
Dealing with North Korea is a matter which should be left to those with the expertise in diplomacy and foreign policy, specifically, those knowledgeable in Asian affairs or arms control. If reality TV star and former unorthodox basketball legend Dennis Rodman could not even talk North Korea out of stopping its nuclear weapons program, it is highly unlikely someone similar, including in temperament, could do the same.
If President Obama was unable to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions, it is implausible someone like Trump would be able to end a similar nuclear weapons program of its ally in East Asia.
Moreover, Bill Clinton tried to do what Trump is about to embark on, but failed to even delay North Korea’s nuclear program.
“North Korea’s new offer is not about peace but cash, distraction and sowing division. If past is precedent, expect more violence,” former Pentagon official Michael Rubin wrote in the New York Post. “But, if Pyongyang truly wants peace, its path should be clear: Abide by earlier agreements.”
To quote Winston Churchill: You cannot reason with a tiger when your head is in its mouth.
Kim Jong Un is the tiger and the last thing Trump would want is to be in his trap. North Korea has been, to slightly paraphrase a Trumpian phrase, “All talk, all action” when it comes to its nuclear ambitions. While it is commendable U.S. sanctions will remain against North Korea, there is no sign the regime is seriously intent on ending its plan for nuclear Armageddon.