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The North Korean Deal: Implications and the Future


First, Some History

In 1258 BC, the Silver Treaty was ratified between the Egyptians and the Hittites. It was the first treaty of its kind. The treaty, although not a declaration of alliance, allowed the fostering of two previous enemies for each other's benefit. With the threat of a war subsiding between the two empires, the Egyptians turned to focus on domestic projects and the Hittites to the strengthening of their empire’s borders.

Some similarities can be drawn between the North Korean deal and the Silver Treaty; the need for peace, to ensure domestic prosperity, the mutual creation of an unexpected relationship and the prevention of a war that may well have re-defined power structures in a region. The methods have changed, but the reasoning remains the same.

Twitter Diplomacy

It was to international ridicule and outcry that President Trump made comments on “Fire and Fury”, to condemnation on calling Kim Jong Un a “Rocketman,” and to projected fear he mentioned having a “bigger button”. That is, if you believe experts quoted by many mainstream media outlets.

It was Theodore Roosevelt who coined the phrase, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” While speaking softly might not completely apply to President Trump’s tweets, carrying a big stick definitely shows. However, it is not just Twitter that should be examined when looking at the approach taken in bringing North Korea to the table. The process of demonstrating intent and objective was done internationally. There were three main ways in which this was done.

A Method to the Madness

Firstly, the military resources brought into place around North Korea were there to back up the President’s tough words. A strike group, one of the largest of its kind in recent years, was assembled and headed toward North Korea. They then conducted exercises with South Korean and Japanese forces in the area. Similarly, some of the best special forces units in the world were being assembled in South Korea, including Navy Seals, Rangers, and British SAS. They were all brought together to demonstrate efficiency and force, as well as for the possible conflict that might have been.

Secondly, President Trump expertly positions China and Russia. The past Korean War saw China come to the rescue of North Korea. China has made itself clear on its support for North Korea, should the U.S. take any action. President Trump, in a tweet, turned the focus onto China, trapping them by saying how China knew North Korea was a problem and was sure that China would look to help the U.S. seek a solution. By both trapping with a statement, while simultaneously providing an exit, China is allowed to save face and draw a far removed red line.

Lastly, President Trump takes a hard stance on Iran. The canceling of the Iran deal and subsequent hard-line taken on negotiations served two purposes. It served to send a message to Iran as to the leadership of the U.S. and how any relations between the two countries might be understood. It served also to remind North Korea of the consequences and stance that the U.S. would look to enforce.

The Art of the High Stakes Game

In order to bring Kim Jong Un to the negotiating table, a game of high stakes needed to be played out, this case being the stakes raised until they could not be matched. All of this is to be done while providing a way out for North Korea. A nation or leader, when backed into a corner, will lash out, sometimes to the detriment of their own country, just to save face. If a beneficial alternative can be presented allowing them to save face, the option is nearly always taken. President Trump gave the option, showing he was willing to deal.

In the final turn of events, North Korea was to feign protest about the military exercises on the Korean peninsula. The reason behind this was to try and signal to American citizens that the U.S. was not in complete control. This backfired hugely when President Trump called Kim’s bluff and canceled the meeting.

As mentioned in his book, The Art of the Deal, one should always “Know when to walk away from the table.” The same is true for diplomacy, if a leader is truly prepared to make a deal, they must be able to show they can walk away, as well. With this action, notice how President Trump left a meeting as an option.

Willing to Walk Away

In leaving a way out, it allowed Kim Jong Un to save reputation, compromising on a situation otherwise lost. This also demonstrated that even though it would be a huge political loss, President Trump was willing to walk away, leaving him in the position of power to negotiate from.

The signed agreement was an indication of both immediate and future interaction between two nations. Denuclearization was always a given requirement. However, the facilitation of relations suggests the eventual potential for American investment into the country. President Trump has also committed to stopping military co-operative war games between countries in the area. This was done soon after the deal was signed. The intention of this is to offer incentive and demonstrate commitment to the agreement, without tying the U.S. in an international agreement. If North Korea were to not honor its arrangement, then such documented agreements could be rescinded, leaving plenty of room for development during the continuing negotiation stage.

Future Relations

If relations with South Korea are indicative at all of the future with North Korea, then the future is looking bright. American investment and support in establishing the state of South Korea were one of the building blocks that allowed for the rapid economic and political growth within the country. While it is too early to look beyond the initial agreements, the cultivation of a relationship between the U.S. and North Korea could result in an increased American influence in the region, with ties between the Korea’s leading to the mutual prosperity of both.

What cannot be dismissed is China’s attitude towards this. Because of improving relations with America, North Korea moves out of China’s grip. The Chinese/North Korean connection is a relationship that needs to be handled with care and consideration in the immediate future.

Implications

In bringing the deal to fruition, the U.S., on the world stage, used military power, hard diplomacy, and economic incentive. The current success of the Singapore summit is likely to resound internationally, especially among two outstanding issues to the U.S. foreign policy, Iran, and the Israel-Palestine question.

It demonstrates a firm but fair attitude of the U.S. Not looking to overbear, but rather looking to solve issues with diplomacy, keeping the military in reserve. Now that North Korea has been brought into negotiations, foreign policy attention can be channeled into other areas. The abilities have been demonstrated. It is now up to the U.S. to channel its focus into resolving the next threat to peace.

Ray Jones / Writer

I am a Proud Patriot. I have a degree in History and International Law with an interest in anthropology. I aim to make Americans realize their greatness!
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  1. What a great article! This president is the truest leader I've experienced in my lifetime! Thank you for explaining all that. It's an artful process that President Trump handled with aplomb.

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