Talk is better than warfare
In the currently divided U.S. political climate, even good news is drowned in a hail of criticism.
There is one very basic fact that needs to be remembered before all else is said about the meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un: It happened.
The president of the United States and the supreme leader of the reclusive nation that has been in a technical state of war since the early 1950s met face to face.
Former President Clinton met with Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il in 2009. Former President Jimmy Carter met with Jong Il.
But this was an actual summit, an attempt to move the relationship between the nations from the stalemate that has existed since the ceasefire of the Korean War in July 1953 and tipped from hot to cold to warm over and again in the nearly 65 years since.
Was there full and formal agreement to do anything? Should there have been?
It was one meeting. One very important meeting, but just one meeting. It could lead to more, which is the hope of the South Koreans and the backers of North Korea led by the Chinese.
What hasn’t changed is the ability of the Kims to manipulate through promises, get what they want and then return North Korea to its former bellicose footing.
What hasn’t changed is North Korea’s dismal human rights record.
While the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Iceland in 1986 comes to mind, it must be remembered that there are major differences. Gorbachev put the Soviet Union’s human rights record on the table. President Reagan didn’t give up on the missile defense system. And the last nuclear warhead in the world wasn’t destroyed, despite the dream of the leaders of the world’s two superpowers at the time.
And the Cold War continues to reheat now after a generation of leadership changes in both of the former superpowers, complicated with the rise of the economic powerhouse in China, which certainly wants to flex its muscle on the world stage, too.
So, Trump has made a few fully revocable promises regarding joint war exercises with South Korea. He and Kim have expressed a willingness to continue talking, as diplomats work to flesh out the details of the direction the summit indicated.
It’s not lasting change. Yet. But the meeting happened. And that means two nations are talking. And that’s better than pointing guns and nuclear-tipped spears at one another.