There’s been a summit, no one’s really told anyone what was in the deal that was just signed, and no one – really – is any the wiser. Kim says his country has started the denuclearisation process, but whether this is universal or irreversible was left unstated. Trump, for his part, looked weak – even if he talked tough in the way he does without actually saying anything other than nouns and adjectives.
In a meeting of two globally-reviled world leaders, who really won?
Well, for his part, Kim won: this is the first step towards the opening up of North Korea, normalising relations with the rest of the world – especially South Korea – after over seven decades of being an outcast and a pariah state. The easing of sanctions – particularly by China – will help continue the growth that the country has undergone, and help to mend the long-held relationship with China.
Then again, Trump also won: remember one of Obama’s final pieces of advice to Trump? It was along the lines of “North Korea is the biggest problem right now”. Well, that was really Trump’s main reason for doing all of this. Despite the motives (ego, Obama, global peace, the Korea people – whatever you believe) Trump has created a piece of history today just by being in the room. The deal was secondary.
Of course, there are dangers for Kim: the oft-cited “Qaddafi Model” of dictatorship removal – the removal of nukes before a US-funded uprising sees you dragged out of a sewer pipe, shot in the throat, and your corpse paraded around the streets – has been a strong point or worry for North Korea, and the main reason for Kim’s reluctance to disarm. Nukes, for smaller countries, are a better shield than sword.
…and failures from Trump: while denuclearisation was on the agenda, Kim’s overplaying of the disarmament card may well mean that Trump has nothing left to gain from this initial meeting, and nothing from further meetings. Trump has also called for the halting of US military exercises in the South. Today’s summit might be seen as a big win for The Donald and his prospects come November’s mid-terms, sure, but not much else.
So, in reality, China won: China have been calling for a halt for US War Games to cease in return for a halt to North Korea’s nuclear program. It seems, Xi has it.
…and we all though Putin was pulling all the strings.