Okay, the ‘Summit of the Century’ is over. Well, that was over the top . . . Let’s say the well-anticipated meeting — the first ever — between an US President, and a North Korean leader is over. Needless to say, a year ago, no one would have ever predicted this would happen. Let’s be honest with ourselves: it was truly the tough talk emanating from President Donald Trump that enabled this to happen. The years of a very bad Pavlovian experiment — rewarding the most egregious behavior — has ended. No longer would North Korea make threats, and violent overtures, and be the recipient of food, and economic aid. Quite the opposite.
What I do find rather interesting is that this meeting was held in the same month that, 68 years ago, North Korea attacked across the 38th parallel into South Korea, backed by the Soviets. It was also a year ago that the body of an American, Otto Warmbier, was returned to the United States. Otto never came out of his coma, a result of deprivation and torture, and he subsequently died.
This was the backdrop by which President Trump met with a brutal dictator who had his own half-brother killed, and has had individuals executed with anti-aircraft weapons. There is a very long history of North Korean belligerence, and lying on previous “negotiations.” What would make this time different? Simple: the maximum amount of pressure being placed, not just on North Korea, but also on its major benefactor, China.Anyone believing that this one meeting would result in unicorns, rainbows, and Lucky Charms flowing freely is delusional. Click To Tweet
Anyone believing that this one meeting would result in unicorns, rainbows, and Lucky Charms flowing freely is delusional. As a matter of fact, you can view the 464 word statement signed by both leaders below.[Commentary continues below statement]
Some would say this is very vague. Well, this is how you begin a journey, with the first step. The journey we are beginning with North Korea is truly a grand, geopolitical, chess match. It should not have been lost on anyone that Kim Jong Un arrived to Singapore on an Air China flight. Make no mistake, we are engaging China, but one thing is for certain: Kim Jong Un does not want to lose power — and that is a very strong bargaining chip. Kim, like any dictator, wants to remain in power, but realizes that the same ol’ modus operandi does not work anymore. There is no longer a weakling in the US White House who purports a policy of strategic patience. Kim, along with China, witnessed how tough President Trump will be with “allies,” such as those at the G-7 summit. Needless to say one can extrapolate how he would deal with adversaries.
So, all the cards are in our hands, and that is obvious, as evidenced by President Trump calling off the summit after North Korea’s disparaging remarks about our Vice President. Notice how the North Koreans got a little obtuse after the second, unannounced, visit of Kim Jong Un to China? As President Trump stated, you have to be willing to walk away, and he did, and it was the North Koreans, who in less that 48 hours, sought to have the summit reestablished for June 12th. This was a clear acknowledgement that the United States owns the moral high ground — very important.
As you read the statement, and see the word “denuclearization,” many will ask specifically what that means. Those terms will be hammered out, but in my assessment it means a complete, and total, end to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, and the removal of any such weapons . . . along with the verifiable demolition of that capability. As well, it means no more ballistic missiles that can threaten the United States, or our regional allies, such as Japan, along with repatriation of Japanese hostages.
There are two conditions that are floating around in reports. First, that the United States will end combined military operations with South Korea. Actually, these operations will be suspended, not completely ended, that would be nonsensical to commit to such. No foreign policy is worth its weight without a credible military deterrent — and that is a vital leverage point. Our strong military enabled an economic collapse of the Soviet Union. So, here, our strong military presence, with our Japanese, and South Korean allies, presents a similar strength.
Second, the assertion that we would remove US troop presence from South Korea is not viable in the near term, if ever. That relates back to the first point. There is nothing that would please the Chinese, and their regional hegemonic expansion objectives — namely the South China Sea — than a US troop withdrawal. I recommend that does not happen.
We should not be discussing concessions to the North Koreans, i.e. China, until we have verifiable proof of progress along a timeline we designate. When I talk about a timeline, I am not talking about 2-3 years. I am stressing things start to happen six months to a year . . . maximum 18 months. Remember, there is no more strategic patience; we are driving this train, it has now left the station but it will arrive at its destination sooner, rather than later. The North Koreans, and Chinese, want to drag this out because that benefits them. What is key to this journey, however, is that the stick remains in place, with the possibility of more sticks. Economic sanctions on North Korea must be maintained; they can be tied to conditions that are met. Why? Simple — and I hope this was expressed to Kim Jong Un, and the North Korean delegation — we do not trust you.Remember, there is no more strategic patience; we are driving this train, it has now left the station, but it will arrive at its destination sooner, rather than later. Click To Tweet
We had a saying when I was in the Army: “Why do you kick a man when he is down? Because he is close to your foot.” When you are winning, when you have your adversary down, you do not let up. It is about your foot staying on his throat, on the gas pedal.
The North Koreans are desperate. Their people are truly starving, between 40-45% are malnourished. The North Korean military is starting to suffer. The Chinese are worried. Now is not the time for the Trump administration to relent, it is all about strength. We have an opportunity, and if anything, we should proceed dedicating our efforts in respect to the memory of Otto Warmbier.
We must never forget the ghosts of the 1938 Munich Agreement. Chamberlain thought he had achieved peace in our time. Hitler said it was just a piece of paper. Churchill chided Chamberlain by telling him he had a choice between dishonor and war; he had chosen dishonor, and we would have war.
I disagree with Senator Lindsey Graham that the only other alternative with North Korea, if this fails, is war. If we take the honorable course, we can use economic, and diplomatic pressures to crush Kim Jong Un — and he needs to know that.
We must remain vigilant, including our military readiness, to support our endeavors to bring peace to the Korean peninsula. Hat tip to President Donald J. Trump, finally an American president who understands only tough actions brings about an attitude adjustment in the behavior of a bully.
During his 22 year career in the United States Army, Lieutenant Colonel West served in several combat zones and received many honors including a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, one with Valor device, and a Valorous Unit Award.
In November of 2010, Allen was elected to the United States Congress, representing Florida’s 22nd District.
He is a Fox News Contributor, former Director of the Booker T. Washington Initiative at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Senior Fellow at the Media Research Center, contributing columnist for Townhall.com, and author of Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Family, Faith and Freedom, and, Hold Texas, Hold the Nation: Victory or Death, published October 16, 2018, from Brown Books Publishing Group.