The proposed North Korean-US Summit sometime in April, is a curious thing indeed. Lots of pundits are saying how misguided and dangerous this event would be. Considering that the United State’s top Korean expert, Joseph Yun, has quit out of frustration, Rex Tillerson isn’t even privy to the arrangement and conveniently out of country, the State department corp is ridiculously depleted, and there is no US ambassador to South Korea or one even nominated; it does seem rather dangerous for Trump to negotiate anything involving Korea with the zero expertise he brings to the table. It has been suggested that outside experts would negotiate any understanding between the US and N. Korea, but come on…do we really think Trump is going to listen to anyone? No.
The foundation for these talks have been entirely arranged by the North and South Koreans. Not Japan, China, Russia, or the US. It is not unusual to assume that South Korea would take it upon themselves to try to secure resolution and peace, whether it is temporary or long-lasting, when we consider how often the Trump administration has been willing to threaten North Korea at the assured expense of South Korea. South Korea probably doesn’t trust the US any more than they trust North Korea at this point. So they are the only honest brokers in this venture thus far.
Is it dangerous for Trump to make some uneducated and short-sighted agreement with North Korea in and of itself? Is it really? I don’t think so. Anything which stalls tensions for any amount of time is preferably to sabre-rattling. Will the North Koreans break any agreement which is made? History says yes. So this understanding is already built-in to any agreement.
The South Koreans have characterized the North’s position as highly interested in discussing everything the US wants: denuclearization, no further testing, inspections- the whole nine yards. And, they want to do it as soon as possible. Seems to good to be true, right?
Therefore, whereas the South Korean’s are the honest brokers, the North Koreans are almost certainly not. What we have to wonder about in all of this really is, what is it we aren’t understanding here? What is this sudden desire for peace borne of? Therein lies the danger. Because we don’t have an active diplomatic corps working behind the scenes, we have no idea what is really going on here.
This is what the Trump administration has given us. We’re flying blind without facts or well reasoned suppositions. We only have the great “deal-maker” to decide with no knowledge, no experience, and only his desire to do “one-off” deals as his sole tool. Trump’s only interest is feeling like he is winning. He desires to be lauded with praise more than anything.
The danger isn’t in allowing North Korea a spot on the world stage. The danger isn’t even making agreements or concessions that we will just take away later on. The danger is: we don’t know what we don’t know. The danger is: we don’t understand the “whys”.
Since time is apparently of the essence for North Korea, our window for collecting information is rapidly closing. There’s something very important missing from this equation. Are the North Koreans about to do a huge nuclear test? Is there imminent instability coming to North Korea? Is there some nefarious arrangement between North Korea and an unknown third party that requires the shield of “negotiations” by which to undertake an unknown action?
We don’t know.