Trump’s Bankrupt Ultimatum Diplomacy
The New York Times reports on the Trump administration’s poor grasp of diplomacy:
American officials were more guarded, saying they were open to talks but not a full-fledged negotiation.
The United States, they said, would reiterate its demands that North Korea make concessions and did not plan to offer any in return.
This is being billed as the administration’s willingness to “open the door” to holding talks with North Korea, but as we can see here there is no real interest in pursuing a diplomatic solution. If U.S. officials just want to deliver an ultimatum in person to North Korean officials, it is a pointless exercise that would make it harder to enter into real negotiations later. North Korea knows what the U.S. wants it to do, and it has said many times that it will never do that, so why would they agree to talks where the same demands will be put to them once again? The U.S. is not willing to make confidence-building gestures that might lead to more substantive negotiations down the road, and it has no intention of offering North Korea anything in exchange for any concessions it might conceivably make.
In the very unlikely event that North Korea agreed to a meeting with administration officials, they would have nothing to gain from the encounter and every incentive to stay away. The problem isn’t just that the administration won’t offer North Korea the tiniest of carrots, but that it doesn’t accept the idea of using carrots in diplomacy in the first place. The administration’s posturing is what a government does when it wants to feign support for diplomacy even as it rejects diplomacy at every turn. If people here at home can see through this ploy, North Korea will definitely take it as more proof of Washington’s bad faith.