You are here:   Dispatches > Trump's big gamble on North Korea

Apart from trade and immigration policy Trump has departed sharply, though not always correctly, from American accepted wisdom on international matters in five other respects. First, he pulled out of the 2015 Paris Climate Accords, which even Syria finally signed in 2017, leaving the United States as the world’s only non-signatory. It is  difficult to defend his decision, even if there were good reasons to oppose the Accords when they were being negotiated. Second, he bullied the Nato allies, refusing for some time to acknowledge America’s alliance commitments under Article Five of the North Atlantic Treaty. In this case, however, his pressure seems to be working: unlike his predecessors who complained bitterly but in vain about allied reluctance to increase their military budgets, Trump has won commitments from more allies to meet the alliance’s longstanding goal that they increase their spending to 2 per cent of GDP. Moreover, Trump has now dangled the prospect of relaxing his newly-imposed tariffs on those allies who take concrete steps to increase defence spending, thereby increasing the likelihood that the allies will actually keep their promises.

Third, Trump has indicated that he will pull America out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran deal, unless it is modified to extend some of its sunset provisions and to cover Iran’s missile programme. Originally defiant, the European signatories are now taking Trump seriously, and are frantically seeking a new additional arrangement with Tehran. That Trump has replaced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who supported the JCPOA, with Mike Pompeo, a strong opponent of the deal, further underscores the president’s determination to secure a better agreement.

Fourth, Trump upended decades of American policy by announcing that Washington will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem later this year. Critics called the decision rash and asserted that the Arab world would react violently to the announcement. Trump has proved them wrong. The Arab reaction generally has been muted; most Arab states are more concerned about Iranian behaviour in the region; and the announcement enables them to step back from their previously unstinting support for what is a corrupt and incompetent Palestinian Authority.

Finally, Trump has also upended long-standing American policy by agreeing to meet with Kim Jong-un. Again, the critics and pundits are howling. They argue that American presidents have consistently avoided meeting with the North Korean leaders because they felt that to do so would simply give whichever Kim ruled the North at the time a public relations coup with nothing in return. Now, they argue, Trump is about to do just that. In addition, they assert that Trump has neither received, nor sought, advice from regional experts, or from those who have negotiated with the North Koreans, leaving him vulnerable to manipulation by Pyongyang. Finally, they claim that Trump is too volatile, and that Kim Jong-un is no more restrained. As a result their meeting could be a disaster.
View Full Article

Post your comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
More Dispatches
Popular Standpoint topics