The uncertain legacy of the Singapore summit

Geneva Stokes
June 17, 2018

After all the hoopla and pageantry and Trump braggadocio at the Singapore summit, with Kim Jong Un standing alongside the US president in front of thousands of journalists, the North Korean leader came out the victor. "I sometimes say the "denuking" of North Korea, and those are handsome words", Trump said in the video.

But Kim called for the suspension of military drills that cast North Korea as the enemy at his meeting with Trump, North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency reported. Though there is a possibility of direct communication between Trump and Kim, it may not necessarily be made in the manner of a "direct phone call", the source added.

In South Korea, where the government of President Moon Jae-in has been pushing for the détente between the United States and North Korea, officials did not object to Mr. Trump's surprise announcement about military drills outright.

The summit and Trump's later comments have raised questions and drawn some criticism, including over whether the president has lavished too much praise on Kim, a brutal dictator; when any specifics will be announced on ending North Korea's nuclear program; and whether Trump is working closely enough with US allies South Korea and Japan on North Korea policy.

Japan believes North Korea abducted 17 people from Japanese coastal areas between 1977 and 1983. No more nuclear testing or rockets flying all over the place, blew up launch sites.

But there is no indication that the two leaders discussed cybersecurity, worrying experts who warn that North Korea's cyberwarfare capabilities pose an immediate threat to USA interests that warrant high-level attention.

"Trump has dictator envy", said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University.

Political pundits the world over have been working overtime attempting to predict the outcome of the Kim-Trump summit and the prospect of peace on the Korean Peninsula more generally. "I'm kidding", he said. But the president has fawned so much about Kim since their meeting you might wonder if he's simply flattering a man with nuclear missiles or exalting the kind of leader he truly admires.

Trump accepted North Korea deliberately vague language about “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula”, with no specific reference to its nuclear weapons
N. Korea Stresses 'Sovereignty, Mutual Respect' in International Relations

'That's my term. They might use it, ' Trump said.

In the interest of candor, let's acknowledge that many of us are automatically suspicious of everything Trump says because he not only is a documented liar but came close to copping to the fact during a news conference in Singapore.

US and South Korean forces have trained together for decades, and routinely rehearse everything from beach landings in the North to pre-emptive "decapitation" strikes targeting the North Korean regime.

The summit, which ended with a vague joint accord stating a commitment to "denuclearize" the Korean Peninsula, has left many unsure of what will happen next.

According to a survey from Morning Consult, Politico, over half of respondents said the recent summit was "very or somewhat successful", while just 24% said it was unsuccessful.

Since the summit, Trump has repeatedly heaped praise on the North Korean leader and touted the results of his meeting with Kim. "Everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office", Trump tweeted.

Should Kim give up his nukes, what U.S. President would fly halfway around the world to meet him one-to-one?

Trump was met with criticism this week after footage surfaced of him saluting a North Korean general.

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