June 13, 2018
It was a long-awaited meeting of two world titans, but just one walked away from the table truly a winner, according to a June 12 report by the news outlet Mic. U.S. President Donald Trump faced off with North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on Monday night—and while the POTUS promised to stop America’s joint military exercises with South Korea on the Korean Peninsula, the North Korean ruler only committed “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
What’s more, the document that the two men signed at the summit had few, if any, details about what the latter promise means. North Korea agreed to similar denuclearization language back in 2005 and never followed through.
Later, during a news conference—Trump’s first since January 2017, Mic reported—Trump called the military exercises “war games,” and said they were “very provocative.” Trump also suggested that while pulling U.S. troops from South Korea was “not part of the equation right now,” that could be coming in the future.
When the pundits weighed in, they said that Trump had made some major concessions without “any reciprocal concrete agreements” during the negotiations.
Indeed, Trump ultimately concluded that he might not actually be able to trust Kim after all. “I may be wrong, I mean I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey, I was wrong,’” Trump said at the news conference.
Of North Korea’s human rights violations—which the POTUS declined to mention during the summit—Trump told the reporters, “I believe it’s a rough situation over there. It’s rough in a lot of places, by the way, not just there.”
Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist who has been critical of Trump, characterized the meeting as a failure. “Claims of achievements from this summit are nonsensical,” Schmidt tweeted. “Trump got nothing except empty promises. Kim Jong-un achieved global standing for his evil regime and got military exercises cancelled. The sycophantic panting and exultations across the GOP and Trump media are delusional.”
Erick Erickson, another GOP pundit, criticized Trump’s behavior during the summit, in which Trump befriended a dictator who is hostile to America., but criticized Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is the leader of one of America’s best and oldest allies. “If Obama had had the last 24 hours that Trump has had, the GOP would be demanding his impeachment,” Erickson tweeted.
However, Trump’s base may be happy with the results and the American public may be relieved by the cessation of overt hostilities, now that North Korea has proven that it is a nuclear power.
In an AP/NORC Center for Public Affairs poll conducted before the summit, most Americans thought the relationship with Pyongyang would remain strained, even after the meeting. Twenty percent believed that the U.S. relationship with North Korea would improve, while 47% said it would worsen and 31% anticipated no change. Thus, a lull in the animus and aggression would be a reprieve.
Research contact: Young-Eric@norc.org