“I make good deals. That’s what I do. I would make great deals for our country,” Donald Trump said in a May 2015 tweet during his presidential campaign. While many have disagreed with his renegotiating NAFTA, his pulling out of the Paris Accord and the Iran Nuclear deal, his negotiating with North Korea has been beyond all expectation.
For the first time in our country’s history, an American president has made contact with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and mediated a meeting between the North and South Koreans. His work leading up to the planned meeting between the United States and North Korea in mid-June saw so much praise, that there was even talk of Trump’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Despite the praise, Trump was not afraid to leave the negotiating table last week after a North Korean spokesman was “outwardly hostile” toward the Americans and went so far as to describe Vice President Mike Pence as a “political dummy.”
By leaving the negotiating table and maintaining the harshest economic sanctions against North Korea, President Trump is letting Kim Jong Un, whom he previously described as “Little Rocket Man,” know that he does not have bargaining power equal to that of the United States.
The Trump administration presented a strong-lined desire for North Korea to complete immediate denuclearization in exchange for a relief of sanctions. The North Koreans had different plans.
Trump sent a clear message that he has no problem maintaining the status quo — that is more detrimental to the North Koreans than it is to the United States — until Kim Jong Un is ready to negotiate properly.
And sure enough, within the week, Kim Jong Un sent a message saying he is “committed” to sit at the table with the United States at any time as well as to discuss “denuclearization,” just as Trump proposed from the start.
This is the art of the deal.