The Nuclearization of North Korea has been considered a threat to the US and its Asian allies for decades. Struggling to make progress on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, just as all other US Administrations have, the Trump Administration has pivoted to the elusive North Korea threat. It is also an issue all US President attempt to address. Unlike past US Presidents, Donald Trump has accepted an invitation by Pyongyang to meet with the leader of North Korean. Given President Trump’s relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un started with condemnation then quickly devolved into a series of offensive exchanges that threatened to spark a nuclear conflict, the ability of the two leaders to meet with each other and commit themselves to the denuclearization of the Korea Peninsula offers the appearance of massive success.
Donald Trump is not, of course, the first US President the Kim regime has invited to a top level meeting. Past US Presidents have simply chosen to ignore the invites, because the prevailing view among foreign policy experts is that such a meeting would be fruitless and harm the image of the US President. The tranny and brutality of the totalitarian Kim regime is so infamous inside the US and elsewhere mere association with the Korean leaders might be interpreted as an endorsement of the regime and human rights violations. North Korea’s ties with US allies are tolerated, because they are helpful. Recognizing President Trump was a fierce critic of President Barack Obama’s willingness to meet with leaders from Cuba and Iran without preconditions, which did not have nuclear weapons nor were they technically at war with the US, a Trump-Kim summit truly does represent a very significant step forward.
For Pyongyang, just the fact that the US President promised to meet with Kim Jong Un is a victory. Whether or not the meeting actually proceeds, the North Korean propaganda machine can spin events going forward to exalt the Supreme Leader. For South Korea, China, and other nations threatened by North Korea’s nuclear reach, a Trump-Kim summit is a opportunity to resolve an imminent threat. For the US, things are a bit more complicated. Because the President lacks significant foreign policy experience and expertise, while he has also chosen to stock his Administration with officials who also lack significant foreign policy experience and expertise, the meeting between Trump and Kim is viewed as the actions of a naive, unqualified politician. Coupled with Trump’s negative image at home and abroad, this means the meeting is not likely to degrade the Office of the US President or even further tarnish the image of President Trump.
Consequently, any success, which would likely include anything less than a total disaster, could be interpreted as a gain for US interests. In all likelihood, however, a Trump-Kim summit would either end in a stalemate or collapse. In the event of a collapse, both Trump and Kim would have justification to harden the preexisting stances of the United States and North Korea, I.e. “the other side was just not willing to compromise.” Among those who hate the US and/or see North Korea as a victim of US Imperialism, a collapse might be heartening. On the other hand, a willingness of the US to reach out to its long time adversary could rally support for the US among those who view America’s stalemate with the North as impractical and unreasonable. That said, the realty that CIA officials have taken the lead in the effort to mend fences with North Korea does have major implications that could be very damaging.
To much of the world, which has experienced the firsthand consequences of the CIA’s efforts to ensure the governments of the world are ruled by regimes favorable to alleged US strategic interests, the CIA is the very symbol of tyrannical imperialist and oppression. The CIA is the reason why many people around the world hate the United States. With CIA Director Mike Pompeo replacing Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and the Trump Administration relying on a backchannel the CIA apparently already had with North Korea, Kim Jong Un will be meeting with a leadership team that shares much of its own thinking on and approach to national security, which will give Trump and Kim common ground. For the rest of the world, however, the CIA will be officially solidified as the face of the United States government.
If a Trump-Kim summit is successful, it will help resolve a major global treat and prolonged war, but the far reaching damage to US foreign policy and America’s international image could be irreversible. Not only has the CIA’s reputation been thoroughly poisoned by its own actions throughout the Cold War, unchecked surveillance in the post 9/11 world, and torture, the CIA is not even part of the US State Department. In fact, past incidences where the CIA and the State Department have colluded, or been suspected of colluding, has harmed the State Department’s reputation and undermined their diplomatic standing. The Trump Administration has now fully embraced the toxicity of the CIA. If success leads to the normalization of the CIA’s involvement in US diplomatic relationships, US soft power could be damaged for generations. At best, the CIA, which was created as nothing more than a clearinghouse for foreign policy intelligence and analysis, will face an uncertain future under the future US President.
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