by James Trottier
The Globe and Mail
May 24, 2018
U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement that he was cancelling the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un scheduled for June 12 was a sudden but not entirely unexpected denouement. It was agreed to impulsively by Mr. Trump in March, a meeting for which the President was woefully unprepared but in which he had invested a huge amount of political capital. Now, instead of being one of the few highlights of a dismal Trump foreign policy record, the summit is just one more failed venture.
The cancellation was precipitated by North Korea’s verbal assaults against key figures in the Trump administration and a belated recognition by the White House that North Korea was not prepared to agree to unilateral denuclearization. This pierced the bubble of illusion surrounding the White House.
No credible expert on North Korea believes that it is prepared to unilaterally denuclearize, but the White House had been putting this forward as the only acceptable outcome of the summit and building up expectations that Mr. Trump would achieve this, setting up the U.S. President for an epic failure or, at best, a major disappointment.
James Trottier is a fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and a former career Canadian diplomat who directed the political/economic programs at the Canadian Embassies in South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines.