The announcement on Thursday that Kim Jong Un was planning to meet, face to face, with President Trump was nothing short of a game-changer. What was even more amazing is that it does not appear the U.S. will have to make any major concessions in order for the meeting to happen.
Many wondered what had changed to bring Kim to the table. Some speculated it was an outgrowth of the “charm offensive” that the North Koreans recently engaged in at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Some have said it’s just another tactic by an unstable regime.
Others have even said it’s because the Trump administration has broken with American protocol by not treating North Korea as a pariah state, because there’s nothing so monumental and promising that it can’t be blamed on one Donald John Trump.
As for Vice President Mike Pence, he has an answer of his own. The left, predictably, isn’t going to like it — partially because it makes them look bad, and partially because it gets a lot closer to the truth than any of the other theories.
“North Korea’s desire to meet to discuss denuclearization — while suspending all ballistic missile and nuclear testing – is evidence that President Trump’s strategy to isolate the Kim regime is working,” Pence said in a White House statement Friday.
“The North Koreans are coming to the table despite the United States making zero concessions and, in close coordination with our allies, we have consistently increased the pressure on the Kim regime,” he continued.
“Our resolve is undeterred and our policy remains the same: all sanctions remain in place and the maximum pressure campaign will continue until North Korea takes concrete, permanent, and verifiable steps to end their nuclear program.”
And, as for then White House, they’re making it abundantly clear they’re not going to give in to any sort of concessions in order to have the talks.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said that North Korea needs to take steps toward denuclearization and stop its missile tests, and that talks won’t happen “until we see concrete actions that match the words and the rhetoric of North Korea.”
Trump’s hardline stance on North Korea has been significantly different than that of previous administrations.
The buzz-phrase regarding Pyongyang during Barack Obama’s time in office was “strategic patience,” which allowed the regime to dramatically ramp up its military development — as one can see from the numerous missile and nuclear tests. The truth was that Obama would have never thought of playing rough with North Korea — and North Korea had no intention of sitting down at the table with America.
While the Bush administration would sporadically take a hard line on North Korea, there were other pressing issues in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan — and, while North Korea was a member in good (or rather, bad) standing of the Axis of Evil, Bush wasn’t the kind of leader to utter phrases like “fire and fury” when it came to Kim Jong Il’s provocations, such as they were.
The Clinton administration’s dealingswith North Korea were even more of a mess. Clinton, readers might remember, was the president when North Korea’s nuclear program was in its nascent stages. That administration offered food aid to the starving country in exchange for stopping its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, in addition to allowing inspectors into the country.
That deal quickly went south, however, with North Korea launching a satellite into orbit in violation of the terms of the agreement; it wasn’t long before inspectors were ejected from the country, as well.
In contrast to these three presidents, Trump has made it clear that his threats against the North Koreans are far from idle. He’s not only put pressure on North Korea, he’s put the country’s few remaining allies on notice that his administration has no intention of tolerating those who treat sanctions against Pyongyang lightly.
And, lo and behold, Kim Jong Un is coming to the table. Imagine that.
Coincidence? Mike Pence doesn’t think so, and I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone who takes these sorts of things seriously who would disagree.