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Most typical educated, thinking Americans who have never entered the “diplomatic corps” or the U.S. Foreign Service, thus avoiding being propagandized by our diplomatic “professionals”, have a very different attitude about how America should conduct its diplomacy than the professionals do. Many in the public believe that the profession of diplomacy is vaguely slippery, conducted by professional liars, perhaps because too much of diplomacy ends up being a compromise of one’s principles. Diplomacy has acquired a reputation for dishonesty. Ambrose Bierce once stated that “Diplomacy is the patriotic act of lying for one’s country”.
There is a question about whether what American diplomats actually do—manipulating language and cherry-picking the facts– is the right way to conduct diplomacy with certain countries.
We are seeing diplomatic wrong-headedness on display at this very moment in time, after the announcement was made that Donald Trump would meet with North Korea’s leader, and soon.
“Expert” diplomats and liberal commentators flocked to TV to announce various criticisms to a summit meeting. It is not known at this point what the topics of discussion will be, but Trump knows what he wants to talk about—denuclearization– and he may not want to talk about much else, at least at the outset. You can bet that Trump’s agenda and his process will not be what the U.S. diplomatic corps wants. But already, outfits like Reuters and the NY Times are stating that the “summit looks like sheer impulse” and “it is foolish… to imagine the Trump-Kim summit itself will lead anywhere near denuclearization”.
Trump, an experienced negotiator, does not trust most American diplomats, and rightly so. John Kerry comes to mind. Such diplomats are saying that “careful preparation”- lasting months -will be required prior to the summit, but Trump may disagree with that approach.
Here is one way this meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un could go, which former U.N. ambassador John Bolton says should happen:
North Korea is close to achieving nuclear delivery capability, which means that any summit meeting has to happen fast, and go quickly. This also means that the usual diplomatic procedures of careful planning must go out the window, because Un wants to draw it out, delay it for his own purposes—six months of preparations for talks, nine months of negotiations, so he can attain delivery capability and delay U.S. military actions. But Trump won’t fall for that. He can torpedo Un’s strategy by setting up this meeting so that the discussion on denuclearization is on the agenda first and foremost, to determine whether the Korean leader is serious about the issue, or just trying to “play” Trump. Trump knows about North Korea’s history of shameless lying.
Un has already talked with South Korea about denuclearization, so the topic is timely now. If Un balks or this early discussion does not go well, this could be a very short meeting. Trump is the kind of negotiator who may rise from his chair and “leave fast”, walk out, as he has stated he might do. If that happens, the economic sanctions against North Korea stay put, Un gets no relief or concessions, and we are back to exactly where we are today –no gain, no loss for the U.S. On the other hand, if the denuclearization discussion goes well and Un agrees to do it if Trump commits to not attacking North Korea, Trump stays seated and states, “OK, Mr. Un, just tell us which ports and air bases we should send our cargo planes and transport ships, and we will pick up and dismantle all your nuclear armaments and materials and store them at Oak Ridge, next to where we have Gadhafi’s nuclear weapons. Then the sanctions will be lifted.”
It could happen like this, because Un knows by now that when Trump discusses military force, he means it. He is not like the namby-pamby Obama and the ineffective Bill Clinton, and Un knows it. If Un doesn’t budge, Trump will be gone from the meeting like a wild goose in winter. And the U.S. will be none the worse for wear.
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