So a second summit between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump has ended before dessert with both parties storming out of Hanoi.
I’d love to say I told you so except I didn’t tell you so. That’s because after my cynicism regarding the first summit I got attacked by a lot of you as a warmongering Trump hater who couldn’t bring himself to praise the greatest peacemaker of our time.
But the failure of the second summit is proof to me that the first summit was a mistake.
Kim came to Hanoi and demanded that sanctions were lifted. Trump said no and they all went home. But the problem is that Kim is framing everything and leading everything. Twice in nine months, he has roused the President of the United States out of the White House to make a sojourn to Asia.
Twice Kim has been pictured shaking Trump’s hands and being treated as an equal rather than as the outlier despot he really is. While Kim will never say a bad thing about Trump, the real reflection of his attitude to the States is heard as he roundly slags off lower level representatives like Pompeo and Bolton.
Meanwhile, Mr Trump kow-tows calling Kim an impressive man and ruminating about pausing military exercises in the area. With Chinese aspirations rising in the South China Seas I wouldn’t be pulling the fleet back.
The timing was also terrible for the President as a propaganda event. Instead of being seen as a world leader he attended an abortive summit while world headlines concentrated on his former lawyer calling him names like racist and conman and reaffirming the idea that the President likes the company of pornstars.
And all along Kim’s nukes sit waiting in a mountain somewhere. And while everything is on pause North Korea can potentially carry out further work on its nuclear and conventional weapons programs, upping the stakes in future talks.
I never thought Kim has given anything so far. He has disestablished a launch facility that was broken and was going to be abandoned anyway. His tests had achieved what they needed to and I believe North Korea was going to pause it’s programme anyway.
And while Trump scurries home, Kim is hanging out in Hanoi sightseeing and enjoying diplomatic relations that the Koreans have not enjoyed for decades.
Much is made at home of Trump’s success in getting Kim to the table. That is ignorant of the US attitude of maximum pressure that has existed since the 50s. The Koreans have been begging for respect and a summit for 50 years. Mr Trump was the first of nine presidents to grant that to them and in doing so North Korea is enjoying better times with no relief for their own oppressed and starved people and no relinquishing of the nuclear arsenal.
There was a better way of handling all this rather than Trump’s grandstanding for some grandiose clicks and tweets.