Hey kids! Let's throw a summit together to salvage a corrupt regime!
It used to be that summits were carefully choreographed affairs, taking place after months of groundwork by lower level staff. Think Kennedy and Khrushchev. Think Reagan and Gorbachev. Hell, even think Nixon and Mao.
But that was in a different reality. Apparently all that's needed for a summit these days is for an American president, mired in multiple scandals, to be thrown a few nice words and bam, you get legitimized.
Unless you've been under a rock since 7pm EST last night, you now know that North Korea's dictator Kim Jong Un has invited Donald Trump for face to face talks. Trump, with no advice from national security staff, immediately accepted.
Remember what I wrote in the first paragraph? Summits are held at the conclusion of talks by lower level staff, not as the start of them. A man whose claim to fame is saying "You're fired" on television is about to face off with a man who murdered his uncle via artillery barrage. Trump can't even keep an NDA with a porn starlet secret; forgive me if I doubt his nous at handling a stone-cold murderer.
Now, let me be clear: I would love for there to be a rapprochement between North and South Korea, and between North Korea and the US. It would make my nights much more peaceful. But this stunt will accomplish none of that. Our State Department staff is decimated. Trump is expected to come up to speed on complex nuclear issues in two months. This is a man who famously doesn't read his daily briefings. This will do more damage than if things remained at the status quo.
What Kim will tell his people is: "See? Our nuclear program has forced the US to recognize us as equals." Why ever would a regime like North Korea's relinquish its arsenal? There will be no denuclearization because it's not in Kim's interest to do so. His nuclear program has attained the holy grail of North Korean diplomacy: a one-on-one meeting with the American president. He'll put on a military parade for Trump (assuming Trump goes to Pyongyang), he'll praise Trump, and he'll keep his nukes.
A president mired in scandal is a president who is easy to play. Trump clutched at this invitation as if at a piece of driftwood in the middle of the Pacific. He thinks this will keep away the sharks. Seventy years of American foreign policy are being sacrificed for a transitory good news cycle.
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