The June 12 summit between the United States of America and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has been hailed by Trump supporters as a historic success and received generally credulous coverage in the press as a harbinger of peace. The truth could not be farther from this naive wishful thinking. In fact, the real outcome of the Singapore summit was and is frankly miserable.
There was no promise for complete or verifiable dismantlement, not even a promise for any kind of denuclearization whatsoever. North Korea repeated the same vapid rhetoric like they had said many times before. Yet despite Kim Jong-Un giving him few concessions, Trump remarkably caved in on US-Korea joint defense exercises, a long-sought-after goal of the Kim regime, and even defended the thuggish dictator from criticisms of his human rights record.
“Complete, Verifiable, and Irreversible Dismantlement” (CVID) is probably the only denuclearization model that will work with North Korea, considering its track record of lying and dishonest negotiation. In both 1992 and 2005, North Korea, strongly asserted the a willingness for denuclearization and made promises to stick to a process, but each time, the rogue kingdom quickly broke its promises after extracting the concessions it desired. This time, American officials had talked about CVID in the run-up to the meeting, but the statement that emerged out of Singapore made no mention of CVID whatsoever.
An important and critical difference between CVID and the meaningless PR phrases in the document is that simply breaking a CVID agreement could be a direct justification for war in an extreme case. [Editor’s Comment: Is there a source for this?] Not only Trump, but also his officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton who are notable hardliners claimed to make CVID happen in the first place.
Pompeo was angry when asked by reporters about the lack of agreement for verification mechanisms. “I find that question insulting and ridiculous and, frankly, ludicrous. “I just have to be honest with you. It’s a game and one ought not play games with serious matters like this,” he said at a press conference in Seoul on June 13, the day after the meeting. He asserted that there was other work done that did not appear in the public statement. One may forgive observers for not particularly trusting North Korea’s seriousness to follow through on any hypothetical agreement that it did not even agree to put on paper.
Secondly, Trump administration has announced that UFG (Ulchi Freedom Guardian), which is the US-ROK annual joint military exercise, has been cancelled due to the summit. The status of other US-ROK joint exercises remains in doubt as the details of Trump’s promise to end what Trump has referred to as “war games” is ironed out. This decision is extremely irresponsible and ignorant; UFG and other cooperative exercises have existed to practice military and civic operations in wartime contingency. As the name suggests, there are defense operations to maintain preparedness in the face of extreme and intense North Korean threats.
Nonetheless, Trump has adopted the language of North Korean propaganda and leftist communist sympathizers, referring to such operations as “provocative.” Rather, it is North Korea that has always been the side to initiate attacks and provocations. Not only that, but Trump has also praised Kim Jong-Un himself, calling him “talented” and saying that he “loves his people,” despite the fact that he subjects them to arbitrary arrest, torture, starvation, and political repression. Such comments are extremely shameful for a person who claims to be a good republican to say.
Defense exercises are an ordinary act of any military. Even after the US announced an end to its exercises with Korea, Korea engaged in exercises about defending the Dokdo Islands from Japan, an American ally that is on the ROK’s side regarding denuclearization that no one expects to attack Korea.
Furthermore, it is disgusting to see those who used to agree with Trump’s talk of fire and fury are now acting like liberal pacifists. Trump, who talked in the campaign about withdrawing troops from Korea and Japan, has now resurrected talk of full withdrawal and said that he “looks forward” to lifting sanctions.
Dr. Robert Dodge, Emeritus Professor of History at Washington & Jefferson College, expressed concern that North Korea could try to take advantage of American weakness.
“I think President Trump gave up more than he received in dealing with Mr. Kim — first the actual ‘summit meeting’ itself, and second calling for an end to joint military exercises between the ROK and U.S. defense forces in the Korean Peninsula,” Dodge wrote by email.
He also warned against withdrawing troops, raising the historic parallel of the Korean War: “By 1949, there were no U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula, and the U.S. Secretary of State at the time, Dean Acheson, had delivered a public address concerning U.S. geo-strategic interests in Asia in which he ommitted mention of the Korean Peninsula. That encouraged Kim Il Sung to go to Moscow and ask Stalin for the second time in two years to give him the ‘green light’ to attack South Korea, which he did on June 25th, 1950. … Thus any significant draw down of U.S. forces in South Korea might raise that specter again.”
I also see a similar parallel to the fall of the Republic of Vietnam in 1975. After being elected president in 1969, Richard Nixon implemented his Vietnamization of Vietnam War policy as he had promised. Therefore, retreat of U.S troops in Vietnam began in 69, and soon all of the troops left Vietnam in 73. Also, in that very year, the peace treaty was made in Paris for a ceasefire agreement. However, North Vietnam had always pursed to unify two Vietnams in the end and did not respect the ceasefire.
When Nixon resigned due to the Watergate scandal in 74, Gerald Ford succeeded Nixon. At this very moment, North Vietnam was testing how the U.S would act against North Vietnam Army (NVA) threats towards South Vietnam. Nixon threatened the Soviet Union, China, and North Vietnam with nuclear strikes in Paris Treaty in case of their hostility may appear again; however, Nixon was out of the picture by then, and Congress was fed up with defending South Vietnam.
The NVA threats that began after the resignation of Nixon were getting more and more and severe. It was obvious that the new invasion of North Vietnam was clearly imminent. Yet, Ford announced that the United States would not use the American military to support South Vietnam. On 10 March 1975, after determining that U.S would not be involved in Vietnam anymore, the NVA launched massive offensives from all directions toward South Vietnam. This is how the fall of Saigon happened on 30 April 1975 as a result of the invasion, and I am afraid of seeing the very similar moment here on Korean Peninsula.
To sum these up, this summit and Trump administration’s decisions are obvious betrayals against the true hardliners who have shouted for strong reactions to eliminate the threat. It is apparent that he is playing an extremely dangerous game now. This is not helping the U.S to secure its national security at all.
As a former active serviceman who participated in UFG exercise as an interpreter as well as a current active reserve soldier of the Republic Of Korea Army, I am declaring that the summit was just a degeneration in US policy on North Korea. It is even worse than Obama’s ‘Strategic Patience’ that eventually failed to prevent North Korea from achieving nuclear capabilities.
I have always been a hardliner, and therefore I never agreed with moderate policies from Democratic Party; now we are facing the worst possible decisions coming to fruition. As Dr. Dodge fears, the current situation looks very much like Korea in 1949. Do not forget that Acheson Line eventually brought the Korean War in a year. If US keeps trying to repeat the same old mistakes in a nuclear age, the results will be even more catastrophic. American withdrawal and capitulation to North Korea will not bring peace, nor will it even extract the US from the conflict; the end result will only be an even bloodier conflict that will drag in the US–and possibly China and Japan–that could have been avoided through a policy of strength.