By Charlie Johnston
The Singapore Summit between American President Donald Trump and N. Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is a good beginning. Already, the foreign policy establishment and pundits who have failed at nearly every juncture of foreign policy for the last 30 years are attacking it. The biggest criticism is that we agreed to end joint military exercises with S. Korea in exchange for the mere promise of de-nuclearization on N. Korea’s part. That criticism overlooks one very salient point: the next scheduled exercise does not come until late next spring. We will have a pretty good grasp of whether N. Korea is living the spirit of the agreement by then or not – and Trump has shown no compunctions about changing his mind when he thinks he is being played.
I have complained for decades that we have not had even minimally competent geo-political thinkers in national office or the foreign policy establishment. The specialty of the foreign policy establishment has been building castles in the sky and congratulating themselves on how smart and elegant their disastrous failures are. I concur with this marvelous piece by Matthew J. Peterson, “Thank God Trump Isn’t a Foreign Policy Expert.”
One fellow suggested that if peace breaks out with N. Korea. it will obliterate one of my most long-standing prophecies; that the Storm would break through North Korea, but not be centered in North Korea. I will gladly take any opprobrium that comes my way in exchange for a real chance for peace. But I ought to let you know, as I let the commission that investigated me know several years ago, that though I don’t contradict people on the subject – because God often works in echoes and layers, that prophecy was already fulfilled in May of 2009. N. Korea did a nuclear test that month that was actually an audition: representatives of Iran and another rogue Middle Eastern state were observers – and N. Korea became nuclear arms merchant and technical advisors to those regimes. I pray, knowing full well the dangers yet to come, that this is the beginning of real peace and will nullify what has been a key component in Iran’s nuclear ambitions as well.
Another criticism has been that this agreement did not touch on human rights abuses in N. Korea. That is true, but this is just a heartening beginning, not a comprehensive agreement. I am thinking of the early 1970’s. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger had quietly worked with the Soviet Union to open up Jewish emigration to Israel – and some 30,000 a year were being allowed to emigrate when then U.S. Senate decided to demand it loudly and formally. The Soviets angrily said the US had no business dictating its internal affairs – and cut back annual Jewish emigration below 10,000. More recently, as George W. Bush sought to vigorously expand NATO membership among former Warsaw Pact nations, he got in the habit of telling the Russians what we were going to do rather than consulting with them and treating them with the respect due a great nation. It did NOT work out any better for us than Barack Obama’s bowing and scraping did.
You have to treat even a foe with respect and dignity. Sometimes, it leads to a breakthrough. When it does not, it clears the way for you to take a bold path without triggering resentment that you have treated that nation as a second class power. The modern foreign policy establishment tends to want consultation without bold advocacy of our own interests – and simultaneously rejects anything other than complete victory as failure. The most fruitful approach to foreign relations is to, A) advocate vigorously for your own nation’s interests, B) observe protocol and treat other nations with dignity and respect as potential allies, C) understand that agreements are a process, not an event, so never undermine real progress because it is not comprehensive and, D) if there is no progress or your opponent proves unreliable, then begin harder tactics, from sanctions all the way up to war. Trump and Kim have made a good beginning. May it blossom rather than wilt.
Don’t waste too much time listening to the nattering pundits who have been consistently wrong about everything involving foreign affairs their whole lives.