Home/Daniel Larison/The Lie at the Heart of the Trump Administration’s North Korea Policy

The Lie at the Heart of the Trump Administration’s North Korea Policy

Mike Pompeo, CIA director (Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons)

Pompeo is claiming that North Korea is violating an agreement that it never made:

One day after Donald Trump praised Kim Jong Un for “keeping [his] word” and returning the remains of U.S. troops from the Korean War, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused the North Korean leader of breaking the promises he made to the president.

Pompeo’s revisionism about North Korean commitments would be laughable if the subject weren’t so serious. One of the reasons that I have been objecting to the administration’s lies about the results of the Singapore summit is that I feared they would attempt to blame North Korea for breaking a deal that had never been reached:

It is important to understand this because the administration may try to accuse North Korea of cheating or backtracking later on, but North Korea didn’t make any promises to disarm.

Now that is exactly what Pompeo is doing. The administration has been willfully misrepresenting what North Korea agreed to do for months, and now they want to shift the blame for their own inept negotiations by accusing the other side of breaching commitments that don’t exist. Everyone could see that the vague statement produced by the summit contained nothing that obliged North Korea to halt any of its nuclear weapons and missile development, and so they have continued to act like the nuclear weapons state that they are.

The reality is that there is no denuclearization deal with North Korea. North Korea isn’t and won’t be disarming. The Trump administration’s repeated lies that North Korea agreed to disarm have shredded what little credibility they might have had, and in the process they have been wasting time and squandering an opportunity to negotiate a more modest agreement with achievable goals.

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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