In negotiating with North Korea Donald Trump may have broken his own #1 rule, as expressed in his book The Art of the Deal: “The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead.”
By promising to meet with Trump, and implying he would make a deal on “denuclearization” Kim Jong Un gave the U.S. president a political “win” and also greatly increased his stature internationally. Then, by threatening to walk away from the talks if his demands aren’t met, Kim manipulated Trump into giving him concessions already. Clearly Kim knows he is dealing with a desperate man.
In fact everyone seems to know that Donald Trump is desperate for a political “win.” When the president of South Korea suggested the U.S. president should get the Nobel Peace Prize, he was engaging in obvious manipulation of a man whose main goal is always to stroke his own ego. This just made Trump try harder to get a deal done, which would greatly benefit the South Korean president politically also.
What is most concerning for the United States is that Trump doesn’t know what he is doing when it comes to North Korea. His ignorance and bluster work together to make him say and tweet things that have unintended consequences. The end result is that both he and the United States end up in weakened negotiating positions. His desperation is showing through.
Kim Jong Un is a wily negotiator who will say and promise anything to get concessions that benefit him. And that’s what he’s been doing with Donald Trump, who he is playing like a fiddle.
Even though Trump is desperate to have “denuclearization” of North Korea, Kim Jong Un has no intention of getting rid of his nuclear stockpile. Kim wants the type of denuclearization that includes the U.S. removing its nuclear weapons from northeast Asia, which the U.S. has no intention of doing. Everybody seems to know this except the President of the United States.
Trump’s own advisers don’t want him doing a deal with North Korea. His new national security adviser, John Bolton, doesn’t trust North Korea at all and has said that the U.S. should engage in a preemptive first military strike against the tiny country, and try to destroy its nuclear arsenal that way.
It’s ironic and sad the the North Korean leader and his advisers understand John Bolton’s position better than Trump does. They know what Bolton wants to do, and they don’t like it at all. He has said that North Korea should “completely dismantle its nuclear program, ballistic missiles, and chemical and biological weapons before receiving any economic benefits.”
In fact an official North Korean statement had this to say about the national security adviser: “we do not hide our feelings of repugnance towards him.” By including Bolton in the mix, any chance of a Donald Trump Nobel Peace Prize has flown out the window.
Kim Jong Un has been threatening to pull out of the summit for the past week, and doing that helped him get concessions from Trump. This once again shows how desperate Trump is for a big political stunt that he thinks will increase his favorable poll numbers.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the United States has canceled plans to have B-52 bombers — the kind that carry nuclear bombs — participate in the planned joint air-force exercises with South Korea. This is a huge win for Kim and is against the interests of both the U.S. and South Korea.
Other news reports say that Trump is now publicly sucking up to Kim Jong Un while throwing Bolton under the bus. He said that he won’t follow the “Libya model” that Bolton favors, for example, because he knows that North Korea will never accept this approach.
Last month Kim called his nuclear arsenal a “powerful treasured sword for defending peace.” It may be the most important thing that he possesses, and there is no chance he will voluntarily give that up.
By agreeing to meet with Kim Jong Un at all, Donald Trump conceded something that no other president had ever done and gave the North Korean dictator a global victory. Since then, by acting out of desperation and ego, Trump has only made things worse.
The idea of a summit is just a gimmick to make Trump look good, but as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, there is a risk that Trump will make a “quick bad deal.” Maybe Donald Trump should read his own books (which were ghost written) so that he could learn something about deal making before he leads our country down a path of weakness and submission to one of the world’s worst dictators.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.