By Owei Lakemfa
WHEN United States, US, President Donald Trump arrived the Sentosa Island of Singapore, he appeared psychologically unprepared for his June 12, historic summit with the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korean, North Korean President Kim Jong- un. Two days before the summit, he had a verbal brawl at the G7 Summit with some of America’s closest allies; the trusting but miffed Germans, the exasperated French and traditional ally, Canada.
An angry Trump refused to sign the G7 Communique and accused Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of stabbing America in the back. In turn, the countries accused America of insulting them. As the meeting with Jong-un got underway, the question was if brother Canada is beginning to find the Americans unreliable, is it the North Koreans who would trust them?
Following his fight with trusted allies, Trump arrived Singapore, a man that appeared isolated.
In contrast, Jong-un took strolls with Singaporean officials, appeared at ease and enjoying the international focus on him and his country. It was a sharp contrast; here is the leader of the ‘Free World’ looking isolated and the leader of North Korea, a country that has faced isolation for 68 years, appearing friendly, free and relaxed.
For North Korea, the meeting was a good public relations and it had every reason to appear confident. Its food crises, is over, its possession of nuclear weapons, meant that Trump cannot afford to display the kind of arrogance he had exhibited to the Canadian and German leaders. Also, for the first time in nearly 70 years, the government in South Korea was not anti-North, wants peace and reconciliation and is keen to ensure that its territory will not be used as a theatre of war.
The North and South Korea conflicts are a Cold War product. Both sides went to war on June 25, 1950. On the North Korean side were China and the defunct Soviet Union, on the South Korean side were 21 countries including Great Britain with the US providing 90 per cent of the foreign troops under the United Nations flag.
It was a stalemate, and by the time the ceasefire agreement was signed in July, 1953, over five million people had lost their lives. The US alone lost almost 40,000 troops with over 100,000 injured. Technically, the war has not ended and it was only in April, 2018 that Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to sign a treaty formally ending the war, by the end of the year.
It is clear that if the US has the capability and military strength, it would be dictating and not holding a meeting with Jong-un; but North Korea with its nuclear weapons has become like a needle which the rotund American cock, cannot swallow.
The meeting itself was more of drama than substance. President Trump said his country is committed to providing security guarantees for North Korea, a promissory note which the North Koreans know is not cashable. In return, Jong-un “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” The same commitment he had made to the South Korean President and to the world 46 days earlier.
The twosome signed a vague four-point communique in which both sides committed themselves to establishing new relations for peace and prosperity. They also agreed to build “a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.” The third point was a reiteration of North Korea’s commitment “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” The last, was a commitment to recovering the remains of Prisoners Of War and those Missing In Action and the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
Both sides also agreed to hold follow-up negotiations, led by the American Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a high-level North Korean official. The timeframe for this is an equally vague “earliest possible date” to implement the outcomes of the summit.
President Trump hailed the vague agreement as “comprehensive.” While Jong-un returned home apparently satisfied that his country had exacted some commitments from the US and shown itself to the world that contrary to widely held beliefs, it is not a warmongering state, President Trump addressed a press conference seeking to provide some flesh to the bony agreement and provide some details.
He said the US would stop its military exercises with South Korea because: “We will be saving a tremendous amount of money. Plus, it is very provocative.”
He is also looking forward to bringing the 32,000 American troops home. Both promises, apart from being confidence-building measures, are also economically sensible. The rising annual cost of maintaining American troops in South Korea as at 2016, was $1.1 billion. Although the South Koreans pick up about half the bill, Trump has been complaining about it being a financial burden to cash strapped US. Additionally, the South Koreans spend $10 billion annually to provide support personnel services to the American military. It also makes huge arms purchases from the Americans which in the last 10 years came to over $32 billion. The South Koreans would rather want to spend such huge resources developing their country.
America would certainly want to reduce the cost of maintaining foreign bases in countries like Germany, Japan, Qatar, Djibouti, Australia, Bahrain, Kenya, Colombia, and Bulgaria.
The Trump promise of America gradually easing sanctions will be sweet to North Korean ears, but I am not sure how much store they can put in another Trump promise to assist in the massive development of their country, when America itself needs cash. As at May, 2018, the US official debt was $21.15 trillion while its former Comptroller-General (Director of American Government Accountability Office), Mr. David Walker says in reality, the American debt exceeds $65 trillion.
While Trump appears anxious to negotiate a nuclear deal with North Korea, he is not hesitating in smashing the Iranian Nuclear deal with the United Nations because he knows the former has a stockpile of nuclear weapons while he believes the Iranians can be stopped from developing nuclear weapons.
China should be happy about the easing of tension in the Korean Peninsula, stoppage of war games and the possibility of America drastically reducing its troops there. But it should realise that the Americans may shift attention to the disputed South China Sea.
If peace were to return, the immediate winners would be the two Koreas who will spend less on arms, work towards reconciliation and if possible, unite. But let me conclude by stating that the Talks are not irreversible especially if they are tailored primarily to achieve unilateral North Korean denuclearization. The North Koreans will not entrust their security and lives in the hands of the Americans.