NCNK Member Digest: DMZ Meeting Analysis

July 2, 2019

Trump and Kim made history at the DMZ with their "surprise" meeting on June 30, 2019. Here is a selection of published analysis from NCNK members on the "Great Handshake." Authors listed alphabetically. Read the June 2019 digest here.

In an article for Foreign PolicyAndray Abrahamian writes that getting past the impasse after the collapse of the Hanoi summit, "was going to require the Americans offering something symbolic, and the North Koreans offering something technical. Sunday, on the border between North and South Korea, the two sides may have done just that." Abrahamian acknowldeges that "problems are sure to continue, but Sunday was an important breakthrough and gives room for optimism. And perhaps it couldn’t have happened any other way." Read the Article 

For NK News, Abrahamian addresses the question about legitimacy and argues, "[T]he idea that a U.S. president will be legitimizing the 70-year rule of the Kim family is manifestly silly." He further argues that, "if each additional meeting adds marginal legitimacy to the idea of Kim as a statesman on the world stage, that needs to be balanced with the pursuit of goals that can only be achieved through dealing with Kim directly." Read the Article 

Victor Cha argues, in an op-ed for NBC News, that Trump does not deserve credit for de-escalating war with North Korea, but does deserve credit for using the DMZ meeting to reset relations and for showing persistence in diplomatic outreach with North Korea. Cha questions whether Trump's personal campaign to befriend Kim Jong Un is "enough to really change the tide of history on the Korean Peninsula" and whether an insecure dictator like Kim can trust anyone. Such dynamics, he suggests, "may make only for good theater." Read the Article

Amb. Joseph DeTrani argues inThe Wasington Times that prospects are better now for sucesssful negotiations because "both sides better understand what's necessary if we want progress with negotiations." DeTrani lays out priorities for the United States and North Korea -- many encapsulated in the Singapore Joint Statement. Read the Full Article

In the Council on Foreign Relations' Asia Unbound blog, Scott Snyder argues that the relationship with Kim Jong Un is important to Trump because it keeps people interested in the plotline, regardless of what it accomplishes. Ultimately, Snyder argues that the DMZ meeting helps Trump and Kim "kick-start the working level negotiations necessary to get a peace-and-denuclearization deal done." Read the Article

Writing for The New York Times opinion section, Joel Wit is hopeful that the recent summit has the "the potential to be something much more significant" given that there are signs that Trump and Kim both want a deal. He cautions, however, "real progress toward a deal will require them to empower representatives to work out the details — not during one meeting but in days, weeks or perhaps months of direct talks — and then present them to the two leaders for approval." UItimately he emphasizes that, "Reaching a deal will require difficult compromises by both sides. The Trump administration will have to accept a deal that falls short of North Korea giving up all of its weapons right away but that lays out a path to final denuclearization in phases." Read the Full Article