I’ve been appalled at how ham-handedly Trump has handled the Singapore summit with Kim Jong-un, and how casually he seems to take it. On again, off again. . . “I can size him up in 10 seconds”, “I know everything I need to know”, and so on. Trump doesn’t have near the knowledge or savvy to handle this, and though I haven’t followed what’s going on, Tom Nichols is boasting on Twitter how prescient he was. (Nichols is a professor at the Naval War College and at Harvard’s extension school, an expert on the Soviet Union, author of seven books, and, according to Wikipedia, “a five-time undefeated Jeopardy! champion.”)
Here’s what I predicted three months ago. Pretty much what we just saw. pic.twitter.com/w7IAGGngqx
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) June 12, 2018
Well, I looked up his piece on USA Today, published on March 9. Click on the screenshot to go there:
And here are Nichols’s predictions from that piece:
Given North Korea’s track record, here is what is more likely to happen. Kim and Trump will meet, and Kim’s regime will reap hours of footage of an American president shaking the hand of the “supreme leader” that will run forever in North Korea and go viral around the world. Kim will play the gracious host and agree to everything, knowing that this kind of flattery will trigger a torrent of praise from Trump and perhaps even elicit reckless talk about lifting sanctions. (The North Koreans will surely have done their homework on the president’s psyche, which is on display all day, every day, on social media.)
After the summit, Pyongyang will then dig in on further negotiations. When those talks fail, Kim will blame Trump, leaving the president bewildered and angry. Trump will go back to his insulting ways, which will pave the way for Kim to exit any preliminary agreements. The whole business will fall apart, and North Korea will look like the sure winner: the co-equal of a U.S. president who has been humbled in front of America’s allies and embarrassed in front of its enemies. The unveiling of a functional, nuclear-armed North Korean ICBM will follow.
I hope I’m wrong. Talking to the North Koreans is certainly a far better idea than war. Trump and Kim could surprise us all and begin the process of removing nuclear weapons from North Korea. But it’s far too early to think about any calls to Oslo just yet.
Well, Trump has already been humbled and embarrassed before the entire world. As for the propaganda victory, the North Koreans already are subject to a constant barrage of anti-American propaganda and pro-Dear-Leader sentiments. What difference will it make to the world if they see Trump shaking hands with Kim Jong-un and become extra proud of Dear Leader? None that I can see: the people will still be slaves. And the rest of the world, including China, isn’t suddenly going to start admiring Kim Jong-un more because he took advantage of a moron. Really, what is this propaganda victory supposed to consist of?
My own prediction: nothing will change except for perhaps a draw-down of U.S. forces in South Korea. But that won’t change anything, either, as we still have missiles on subs around the peninsula, and ICBMs pointed at Pyongyang. Neither South Korea nor the DPRK will be any more secure. As for the sanctions, we’d be fools to drop our support for them.