… the truth is, this is the first time that a U.S. president has sat down, shook hands (with a North Korean leader), we saw the DPRK and American flag side by side. I mean, this is unprecedented. And I think it’s a new day for the Korean Peninsula. Christine Ahn, founder and international coordinator of Women Cross DMZ, a global movement of women mobilizing to end the Korean War.
Doing the unexpected
By Roger Childs
Donald Trump has made a practice of doing thing differently from previous presidents.
He was determined to dismantle his predecessor’s legacy and his attitude was basically: If Obama did it, I will undo it.
Much of his approach to leadership has involved insulting individuals, groups, allies and other world leaders.
One of his main targets last year, was North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un. He unleashed, mainly on Twitter, some of the worst insults any world leader has made public in recent decades: even calling Kim “rocket man”.
That’s all changed now …
To his credit, Trump has now pulled off a meeting with Kim that no-one dreamed possible last year. What happened in Singapore yesterday was an historic event which the president won’t let the world forget.
Whether it fulfills the promise spelled out in the communiqué remains to be seen. However the shaking of hands has happened and some proposals have been enunciated about denuclearising the Korean Peninsula and recovering the remains of soldiers on both sides who were killed in the 1951-53 war: that is a start.
Obviously Kim stands to gain more than the US, especially the lifting of the crippling economic sanctions. Whether he is serious about ending nuclear testing and destroying nuclear weapons remains to be seen.
Certainly his people would benefit hugely from millions being diverted from expenditure on weapons to economic development, and food production in particular. Such a shift in government spending priorities would undoubtedly increase Kim’s popularity.
Taking the credit
Trump has certainly achieved a breakthrough on Korea that eluded his 10 predecessors in the White House. He will keep telling people that!
However, much of the credit for actually getting Kim Jong-un to meet the American president, must go to the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, who has had several meetings with Kim over the last year.
The June 12 Singapore summit came just weeks after another historic meeting on April 27 between the North and South Korean leaders, where they agreed to work to formally end the Korean War.
Achieving that goal would a major step forward for the people on both sides of the demilitarized zone, as currently there is only an Armistice, not a formal peace agreement.
The proof will be in the follow up
There is some scepticism over what will follow. Trump has talked about ending war games on and around the Korean Peninsula, however it seems that his Secretary for Defence and Chiefs of General Staff were not consulted on that.
The president has a history of playing fast and loose with the truth and the world will wait to see some substance added to the photo opportunities and general announcements.
Many will recall previous presidents bringing Israeli and Palestinian leaders together at the White House and elsewhere however, that war-torn land still remains divided and the US has yet to recognise an independent Palestinian state.