Singapore sling

 

You know what they say –

Know when to hold them

Know when to fold them

Know when to walk away

Know when to run.

That song just might have been written for Donald Trump. Against all odds, he has pulled off a historic meeting with Kim Jong-Un in Singapore. No other United States President in office has met with a North Korean leader. Certainly, Obama, the ultimate diplomat, never managed anything near it.

Trump is a deal-maker. He knows that in any deal you have to give the other party something they desperately want. Kim wants legitimacy, to be seen as a “real” world leader. That’s what Trump is giving him. An official meeting with the President of the United States gives Kim legitimacy. Now he moves in the best circles in the world.

When Trump walked away from a meeting, a few weeks ago, Kim came begging. He wants this. Trump doesn’t play nice. Kim knows that Trump won’t be pushed around. Trump probably doesn’t enjoy playing nice with a dictator but Trump sees the big picture here. As Churchill said,  “Jaw-jaw is better than war-war”.

Trump has a well-honed sense of when and if he’s being played, and doesn’t take to it kindly. If Kim tries to play Trump, Trump will switch straight back to the “fire and fury” rhetoric, and Kim will get nothing.

But what does Trump get? So far, not much more than vague promises, which North Korea has made and lied about before. However, the meeting in Singapore may change everything. Kim plays with the big boys now. And Trump has been invited to Pyongyang, and he in turn has invited Kim to Washington. There is a good bit of diplomatic progress going on here.

So what now?  The next meeting will have to establish firm timetables or protocols on denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, otherwise, the whole thing will be seen as just more game playing by North Korea.

There are problems ahead for Kim. The most dangerous time for a dictatorship is as they begin the first steps of loosening control. The oppressed get a taste of freedom, then start to demand more and worse, his people will start getting uncontrolled information, which probably won’t go well for Kim. But that may be the least of Kim’s problems.

North Korea is broke. Currently, it has less than $2billion in cash reserves

Kim has annoyed the Chinese with his nuclear testing. The last one cracked the oil pipeline between China and North Korea, due to seismic shifts as a result of the test. Trouble is, the crack is on the Chinese side. The pipeline is North Korea’s only access to oil, and the owners of the pipeline are annoyed. As a result, they periodically turn off his oil supply to teach him a lesson. He needs to get this matter resolved before winter arrives in the northern hemisphere. Once winter is here, he will need that oil and some money to pay for it.

Maybe, just maybe, that is where Trump comes in. But Trump will be aware of that. Trump is not stupid.

No matter what all the Trump haters in the world would have you believe.

Well done Donald Trump. The world is a slightly safer place today, thanks to you.

 

Credit: to Lushington Brady and Cameron Slater for contributions to this post.


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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

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