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If Trump Is Giving Diplomacy a Chance in Korea, His Critics Should, Too

| June 14, 2018

Give selfies a chance. (Shutterstock)

Give selfies a chance. (Shutterstock)

By Lindsay Koshgarian

Some critics have knocked President Trump for making “too many concessions” to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the historic Singapore Summit — the first-ever meeting between a U.S. president and North Korean leader.


Trump’s foreign policy instincts have had me white-knuckled for the past year and a half. But against a backdrop of possible nuclear war, it would be overly cynical not to recognize the meeting’s potential for good.

At best, the meeting set the stage for North Korea’s denuclearization — and possibly even an end to the nearly 70-year-old, stalemated Korean War. If you’re against war, this is a good development.

Just six months ago, reasonable people had reasonable fears of the world’s first two-sided nuclear war, as President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traded middle-school insults and flaunted their nuclear arsenals.

There are still countless ways the negotiations could go wrong, and real reasons to fear that hardline members of the administration — and its opposition, too — would allow that to happen. But diplomacy offers chances for bigger gains, and smaller losses, than war.

Unfortunately, the U.S. spends more than 20 times more on war and militarism than we do on diplomacy each year.

other-wordsOur choices have been stark.

The U.S. chose war in Iraq over diplomacy in 2003. Our leaders chose certain risk over likely rewards by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. And they chose a lone plunge backward over a carefully planned march forward when they stepped back from the Paris climate accord before that.

This must not happen when it comes to the North Korea negotiations.

The costs of war are horrifying. The current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the U.S. $5.6 trillion, and 6,800 U.S. soldiers have lost their lives. That doesn’t include non-fatal casualties, or the human and economic costs of PTSD and family stress that echo far beyond the battlefield.

And it doesn’t count the hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians who have been needlessly killed throughout our warzones. A full-scale war with North Korea would likely be many times worse.

The North Korea negotiations are far from over, and could still tip from a fragile diplomacy back to middle-school insults and perhaps even to war. But we can and should be more optimistic than that. Diplomacy isn’t just the better way. It’s the only way.

For the Korean talks to work, this administration will have to value diplomacy more than it did in its narrow-minded rejection of the Iran deal. It will have to value diplomacy more than it did when it pulled out of the Paris climate agreement.

There’s so much to gain from open communication and keeping our word. And there’s so much more to lose if we allow things to fall apart.

Lindsay Koshgarian directs the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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16 Responses for “If Trump Is Giving Diplomacy a Chance in Korea, His Critics Should, Too”

  1. Veteran says:

    WTF? A pro Trump article!

  2. mausborn says:

    US Army veteran here. I know none of you Trump supporters ever served.. nor do you know military customs and courtesy. But your Dictator in chief just saluted the North Korean general and had US flags touching NK flags. Disrespecting our troops 100%.

    Trump turns his back on his closest allies in the world, isolates America’s trade further, and buddies up with mass murdering, human rights abusing dictators and the right wingers suck his dick about it. It’s hilarious how everything Trump has done has directly violated the beliefs of the founding fathers, and what America IS, and you brainless right wing conservatives and so called ‘proud american’s’ eat it up, while a spoiled rotten cunty rich city boy sells your rights to saudi arabia and Israel, and buddies up with America’s ENEMIES. Veterans fought and died to end the NAzi regime, and now trump is partnering up with comparably worse groups of people. This fat orange tanned little daddies boy knows nothing of the real american man’s struggle, from hard working ranchers to laborers, tradesmen of all kinds, soldiers/sailors/pilots. REAL HARD WORKING STRUGGLING AMERICANS.

  3. Duncan says:

    My feeling is that there is nothing wrong with meeting with your enemies to prevent war. I liked the fact that Obama said he would meet with adversaries without preconditions (even though Trump cursed him for the mere suggestion).

    The problem with Kim Jong Un and Trump successfully negotiating is that you have two nearly deranged narcissists individuals trying to find common ground. I would bet my right leg that Kim will not give up his nukes; He is the smarter of the two it seems so far and is getting exactly what he set out to get; legitimization as the rightful leader of N. Korea. Next, he will continue to string Trump along by openly complementing him to get us to soften sanctions. Everyone knows by now that Trump is a sucker for flattery.

    Trump guaranteeing security to Kim could be over turned just as easily by the next president just like Trump over turned so many environment concerns and is attempting to derail Obamacare. Kim knows this and also know that his nuclear threat is likely the only thing that will keep him alive. He is not going to overlook the fate of Hussein and Gaddafi so quickly.

  4. Nancy N. says:

    This guy has every single one of our allies ready to burn us to the ground. Even our best buddies the Canadians are wishing that it actually was them that burned the White House. Thinking he can solve our North Korea problem is like setting a toddler loose in a China shop and thinking he won’t break anything.

  5. Richard says:

    It will not be the US that allows “things” to far apart, it will be Kim Jung Un himself. He has the ball in HIS court. If he decides to let any of the diplomatic achievements crash and burn then he is personally giving his country a “death” sentence.

  6. Agkistrodon says:

    What is sad is if Obama was now President and had accomplished this, those same “resistors” would be dancing drunk in the streets celebrating. And that is the hypocrisy.

  7. Coyote says:

    It will all be OK as long as Trump gets to open a North Korea Trump Resort and Golf Course (which is probably what he really wants, anyways).

  8. Edith Campins says:

    Let’s see, he got nothing from substantial from Kim but he already made a concession about the military exercises.
    However, he wouldn’t work with the framework that was already in place with Iran. That agreement would have had Iran giving up 98% of their Uranium, included verification protocols and was done in partnership with ourEuropean allies.
    Does this make sense?

  9. atilla says:

    For the last 8 years the previous administration allowed this to get out of control. Now Trump is trying to put the USA back to a respected and feared nation.

  10. YankeeExPat says:

    Donald Trump tells Fox he wants his ‘people’ to ‘sit up at attention’ the way Kim Jong-un’s do

  11. Anonymous says:

    The Koreans would not have even come to the table without Trumps tough talk and iron fist. I admit Trump’s bellicose rhetoric had me thinking the missiles would be flying at anytime. Now that things seem to have calmed down a bit, I’m surprised at how congenial Trump has become. A complete 180 degree turn about from both leaders. Maybe Trump truly is master of the “Art of the Deal”. I agree with the author, let him do his job and stop complaining. Trump has gotten farther with the Koreans than the last {5} presidents and no place or any people are “glowing” yet. Something had to be done, and now, or this could have led to WW 3.

  12. JohnX says:

    Let’s face it. They guy is a savant. How is anybody’s guess. Order through chaos? 3D chess? No one knows. But he says what he feels like saying, pulls no punches, and disturbs norms. As far as the half-assed salute to the North Korean general, I chalk that up to surprise. I’m sure he was technically supposed to spit on the guy. But if there is a silver lining here, it is that Trump is going to give North Korea the chance to break free from China’s iron grip; to develop their own authentic country. It is going to happen. Watch.
    The way he masterfully plays the international stage for the benefit of the American Worker (wow when was the last time anybody cared about them???) is …incredible. The G7 came away divided, Merkel is going down. China is fit to be tied that its cheap goods aren’t going to be coming through the Canada and Mexico NAFTA loophole any more, putting all our folks out of work. The giant sucking sound Ross Perot warned us about has finally got somebody brave enough to try to plug it. This isn’t a Republican vs Democrat thing, this is an American vs. American sell out thing.

  13. Katie Semore says:

    The lunacy never ceases to amaze me. From the uneducated, uninformed, ignorant voters all the way the the White House full of the same.

  14. Richard says:

    What some people are failing to recognize is that we NOW have a businessman for out POTUS and NOT a politician, thank God! What have your politicians been able to get accomplished in the past versus today? Yup, that’s right, NOTHING!

  15. Sherry says:

    Those who mistakenly think the American worker is raking in big benefits under trump’s administration . . . should understand that the disparity between the rich and poor is actually greater than ever. trump only benefits himself and his billionaire buddies. Take a good read:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/13/american-economy-wage-suppression-how-it-works

  16. Johnx says:

    Sherry, that article’s data goes through 2016. So it makes my point well. Thank you. No Thanks, Obama. Or Bush, or Clinton for that matter.

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