The dust has finally settled a little on the Singapore Summit of 12 June 2018. Arms control experts are not divided on the “thin gruel” that constitutes the only document emerging from the historic meeting between President Trump and North Korean President Kim Jong-un. But they certainly don’t all see eye to eye on the bigger picture — did this meeting make the world more or less safe from nuclear annihilation?
We offer four different commentaries on the outcome from four seasoned experts, two American, one Canadian and one Briton.
Joe Cirincione writes:
This is not a promising start. The Singapore summit is a diplomatic breakthrough but a strategic half-step. To turn television props into sound policy, the administration will need all the help it can get. We have to hope that they will be willing to accept it.
For the full article see: The Surreal Summit in Singapore ( The National Interest.org, 13 June 2018).
Retired Canadian diplomat James Trottier identifies perhaps the biggest gap of all between what Trump promised beforehand and what he actually delivered:
The final yardstick is the Iran agreement, recently rejected by Mr. Trump. This 150-page agreement has detailed verification and implementation procedures and timelines. There is simply no comparison between the rigorous detail of the Iran agreement and the [one-page] joint statement in Singapore.
For his full critique see: Trump-Kim Summit: Powerful on symbolism, weak on substance. ( Globe and Mail.com, 12 June 2018).
The third expert, Michael Krepon, is by far the most upbeat of the four about the Summit outcome:
Rip up your scorecard. Instead, I suggest focusing on the big picture: Is another war on the Korean peninsula more or less likely? Have nuclear dangers grown or receded — at least for now? After the Singapore summit, it’s fair to surmise that the likelihood of a second Korean War has been greatly reduced, a war that could well result in the first mushroom clouds on a battlefield since 1945.
See: Un-scorecard for the Trump Kim Encounter (ArmsControlWonk.com, 13 June 2018) for his full analysis.
One thing is for sure. At least for now we are all better off than in the dark days of August 2017 when President Trump was threatening to unleash “fire and fury” against North Korea while trading schoolboy insults with its leader.
But what might be in store for us, down the road, is best summed up by our fourth contributor, Professor Paul Rogers:
At some stage, perhaps in the next few days but more likely in the coming weeks or months, Donald Trump will wake up to the fact that he has been outplayed by little rocket man. With his remarkable ego and self-belief this may take time to sink in. Only when it does will it be possible to assess the outcome of the Singapore summit, and then in all likelihood it will be a matter of waiting for the fireworks.
For his full article, see: Kim vs Don: the Singapore Sting (Opendemocracy.net, 14 June 2018).
Photo credit: Trump-Kim meeting in Capella Hotel, Singapore (Wikimedia images)