Trump may uncancel the Summit. But when he did cancel it, he wanted to make sure to point the blame at North Korea. At least, that is what President Trump wanted to hear from other world leaders. And of course, none of them are saying this.
President Moon of South Korea, said the cancellation of the Summit was regrettable. Others have said leaders in Seoul are perplexed.
It was Churchill’s famous quote, “To jaw-jaw is always better than war-war.” If history has shown us anything, it is that long term enemies can first learn to co-exist, and then become friends. It doesn’t happen overnight. Animosity doesn’t have to end in bloodshed.
Nobody really knew how the planned summit was going to turn out. Many experts on North Korea seemed surprised at Kim Jong Un sudden willingness to seek some kind of discussion on nuclear disarmament and reconciliation with South Korea after showing so much hostility and threats mainly to the US. From their perspective, they were achieving parity with South Korea, which they consider to be a nuclear power, given the strong military support from the US.
Certainly, much of the credit for bringing North Korea leader to the summit goes to the newly elected South Korean President Moon Joe-in. The invitation by President Moon to the Olympic games was the first real diplomatic outreach. This was followed by the inter-Korean summit, in April 27, 2018, which was the first summit in eleven years, and the first time President Moon and Chairman Kim have met in person.
The cancellation seems outright weird and dumb. Weird is the right word, because it has to do with an exchange of words between Vice President Pence that North Korea could end up like Libya (North Korea could follow the Libyan model) really made no sense. This weird Libyan comment started with John Bolton, then Donald Trump and then Pence said the same thing. The leader of Libya was killed in 2011 by his own people in the city of Sirte, during the Libyan civil war. However, there was covert aerial support by NATO including the US in spotting the convoy that Qaddafi was in.
The actions taken by the US and our European allies, in support of the Libyan civil war, have nothing in common with nuclear disarmament. Qaddafi had already given up his nuclear program and dismantled terrorist training sites in 2003. The Bush administration took Libya off of the list of state sponsored supporters of terrorism. This was an enormous help to the Qaddafi regime. Many (including myself) believe Qaddafi did this for economic reasons. I also believed he was becoming more worried about unrest in eastern part of the country, centered around Benghazi, as a potential future threat. Benghazi is where the first hostilities broke out in 2011.
The intervention in Libya occurred after UN Resolution 1973 (17-Mar-2011) during the Obama administration, was presumably to protect civilian lives. At the time, it was highly likely that Qaddafi would have bombed Benghazi and other cities which were rebelling against his authority. If he had bombed Benghazi, a city with a population of over 600,000 inhabitants, the death toll would have been enormous. Putin and others were highly critical of the US implementation of the Resolution, as we used it as a rationale to bomb Qaddafi’s compound in Tripoli, late in 2011.
Many consider Hillary Clinton’s support of the intervention in Libya, and demonstrations against Putin in Moscow 2011 as the reason for Russia’s interference in US elections in 2016. The Arab Spring uprisings were against many autocratic regimes, including the Russian government.
The aftermath of the civil war and Libya’s “Arab Spring” rebellion, is a long drawn out disaster, and none of relates to North Korea. I think the only fair take away message from Libya, is that the outcome of intervention, can be very unpredictable.
Perhaps what is so obvious to the North Korean regime, is the “Iran Model” where the US unilaterally pulled out of a nuclear disarmament deal, even though Iran was in compliance.
The day the talks were cancelled, the New York Times printed a story, about how China would likely be the greatest beneficiary as more acceptance of North Korea with other countries, is not in their game plan.
Diplomacy requires careful driving, and a clear focus on acceptable outcomes. Mike Pence following John Bolton’s inflammatory rhetoric is the quickest way to veer off the road and slam into a telephone pole.