Home/Daniel Larison/Setting the North Korea Summit Up to Fail

Setting the North Korea Summit Up to Fail

The Trump administration’s support for diplomatic engagement is as shallow as ever:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that the United States would leave negotiations with North Korea if the upcoming meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un over the North’s nuclear program goes in the wrong direction.

“A bad deal is not an option. The American people are counting on us to get this right. If the right deal is not on the table, we will respectfully walk away,” Pompeo said in his opening remarks for a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.

Put another way, Trump will abandon negotiations at the first opportunity when it becomes clear that North Korea won’t give away everything in exchange for little or nothing. Bear in mind that this administration thinks the most rigorous nonproliferation agreement to date was the “worst” deal ever made, so their ability to assess the quality of such agreements is severely impaired or lacking all together. Between their unrealistic expectations of what North Korea is willing to concede and their maximalist demands for what North Korea must give up, they have already set the bar so high that any compromise that might be struck in Singapore won’t be good enough. That has been consistent with both Trump and Pompeo’s views of diplomatic engagement: compromise amounts to appeasement or surrender, and the only deal worth having is the one that cannot possibly be reached.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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