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Singapore Summit

Post # 4, Bob McKnight's Political Commentary

"Trump says he knows whether the negotiation will be successful in the first minute and does not need to prepare. I disagree, and the Summit came up short; but, two nuclear powers are now talking and not fighting. That is success."

Much has written about Donald Trump's negotiating experience. His claim is that he is so experienced and successful at negotiating real estate deals that it holds that he will excel at negotiating in government. I have experience in both types of negotiations, and I find them very different with unrelated drivers. Perhaps most concerning is Trump's smugness about doing his homework and training for negotiating with governments. I have always found there is much to be learned in all work, and intelligent preparation is essential. But Trump says bunk and adds, "we'll see."

Let's look at press accounts of the results of the Summit:

It Happened. Nothing can take away from the sheer success of the meeting happening at all. This is especially true after the remarks made by both leaders about one another in advance of the Summit. Credit the opportunity for North Korea to participate in the Olympics as the primary catalyst. South Korean President Moon deserves credit for pulling the parties back together after Trump cancelled the Summit. Trump and Kim deserve credit for tenacity in staying with the plans for the Summit.

North Korea Concessions. Although U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo said that we would not sign a non-enforceable Agreement on de-nuclearization, Trump did just that. In fact, the language is the same as signed by Kim's father, which was later ignored.

U.S. Concessions. Trump said the joint U.S. and South Korea Military Exercises were costly and decided to drop them as a concession to North Korea. The problem is he did not talk to the other half of our side, the South Koreans.

Oversights. As said above, by ignoring South Korea's interests, the U.S. position on the Summit now becomes conditional on South Korea's reaction. Also, with Kim's maybe worst human rights record in the World, Trump ignored this vital U.S. issue in the negotiations.

Perhaps with a little preparation and planning the U.S. could have fared better in the negotiations. But, the Summit is a start, and two nuclear foes are now talking. That is success.


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