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Trump- Kim in Hanoi- meeting for Foundation of Revolutionary Change in East Asia Power Scenario but ended in a squib

Updated on March 6, 2019
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An senior air warrior and political observer who has the pulse of the region and can sense a change when it comes.

The Beginning

North Korea for long was in the crosshairs of US presidents. It was portrayed as a bellicose nation bent on destroying the United States. But most American policymakers and presidents failed to read the hidden lines. Korea for many decades has been either occupied by Japan or China. It is a fiercely independent nation and the past humiliations are something that both Koreas would like to forget but not forgive.

The US presidents failed to read this spirit and boxed the North Korean leadership into a corner. The result was more belligerence and nuclear testing and missile firing.

For decades the main plank of North Korean policy has been to have a summit meeting with the US president especially after Kim Jong II invited Bill Clinton to Pyongyang. This offer was disdainfully spurned and the North continued trying to assert its identity with more missile tests and even an H-Bomb test.

Donald Trump became president in 2016 and he brought a refreshing change in the atmosphere. Maybe he had an inkling of what to do or a sense of time and history when he agreed to meet the Korean leader at Singapore. The dice were cast and despite vehemence opposition from many Americans, Trump went ahead with the meeting.

Trump addressing Congress and announcing the second meeting.
Trump addressing Congress and announcing the second meeting. | Source

The First Meeting and Result

The skeptics were forecasting a failure and till the last many tried to sabotage the meeting. The US military was not happy and neither was the American allies led by Japan. Donald Trump sensed the moment and the momentous summit took place last year in Singapore. Did the summit achieve anything? Yes, it did as articulated by the US president -no missile test has taken place or a nuclear bomb test conducted during the last 15 months.

A few days back Trump in his State of Union Address to Congress revealed that he would be meeting Kim Yong in Vietnam at Hanoi. The Vietnamese foreign minister will visit North Korea from 12-14 February to discuss the planned summit.

The skeptics have been shouting that Kim has not dismantled his nuclear warheads but honestly did the world think that with one meeting Kim would give away his biggest bargaining chip? Trump has realized it and he has good words for Kim when he said he got along well with him and very soon North Korea will be a great economic power.

The future

The second meeting could lead to something very substantial. A look at history will show that the Americans fought a torturous war in Vietnam and after they retreated Vietnam was firmly in the Chinese camp. Within a decade the honeymoon ended and the Chinese army invaded Vietnam in 1983.

Vietnam is now an antagonist of China and the Chinese leadership won't be happy that the summit will take place in Hanoi.

History has an uncanny knack of repeating itself and this second summit could lead to something substantial. The Americans are bound to relax the sanctions and try and prise the North away from the Chinese sphere of influence. This is not a far fetched theory and in the years to come, it could well be a turning point in the history of East Asia.

I have a lurking feeling that in reality, Kim admires America and given a chance he would like to be independent of China. If that happens history will record the sense of timing and achievement of Trump.

There are many hurdles and it is possible that the edifice and trust Trump is building could be washed away for any reason. It's a treacherous ground and anything is possible but Trump is right that he met the North Korean leader and many have realized that Kim is not a demon. Trump is fighting for a place in history.

For Kim Jong its a win-win situation as he has established his independence and could free his dependence on China and open up to the world with a better deal for his people. The credit for this will go to Trump but as I have mentioned all the gains could just slip away. One will have to keep fingers crossed.

Aftermath of the summit

The much-anticipated summit did take place in Hanoi, capital of Vietnam. But it appears now that Trump had come with a pre-conceived plan. He wanted a commitment for total de-nuclearization knowing very well the North could not do this in a moment. He was not ready for a step by step approach and also for any easing the sanctions. The meeting was thus doomed and many wonder what was Trump's plan and why he came for the summit with Kim.

The fact is that Trump is under great pressure at home on the "Russian connection" and his close aides have turned against him. Congress has had a limiting effect and not playing ball with him and he must feel he is under siege. All this contributed to the failure of the Hanoi meeting. Trump could not afford an accord that his opponents would term a " sell out". In fact, he had lost his leverage before the meeting and it had to end the way it did. Maybe Trump missed creating a great moment in history because he is under great pressure at home.


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