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Letter: A win for Kim


Friday, June 15, 2018

This week’s summit between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump is a victory for North Korea.

Pyongyang achieved a summit with an American president, thus legitimating the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and the brutal rule of Kim Jong Un. (“America,” North Korean propaganda will sound off for years to come, “has finally bowed to the power and strength of General Kim Jong Un, the morning star of the 21st century!”) In the process, Trump offered security guarantees to North Korea and pledged to end joint U.S.-ROK military exercises in South Korea. The American president also voiced his desire to withdraw U.S. troops from South Korea. Kim’s regime, in exchange, promised to denuclearize and to stop using a missile engine testing site – which it likely no longer needs after years of testing – and return the remains of U.S. service members from the Korean War.

Is the summit a win for peace? Yes, for now.

The meeting was productive in reducing tensions and diminishing the possibility of war. In the broader context of U.S.-North Korean relations, however, the summit only sets up Washington and Pyongyang for a future clash when Kim fails to follow through on denuclearization. Regardless of the “special bond” that Trump feels he has achieved with Kim, the North Korean leader is pursuing larger historical objectives: namely, the eventual reunification of Korea on Pyongyang’s terms.

Kim has played a game of diplomatic perfidy, and the U.S. – again – has rewarded North Korea for its destabilizing behavior. The dictator wins.

BRANDON K. GAUTHIER

Concord