After many vicissitudes, the America-North Korea summit seems to be happening on Tuesday, June 12, in Singapore.
Diplomats from both countries are already on hand to prepare the historic discussions between the two leaders who, a year ago, were still exchanging names of birds by Tweet or official communiqués.
If Donald Trump manages to achieve a peace treaty with Kim Jong-un (the two countries, at war since 1950, signed an armistice in 1953, but never a peace treaty) and to obtain a progressive denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, it will have achieved a major diplomatic success, that neither Carter, nor Clinton, nor Obama before him had managed to pull off.
Does this mean that, with his unpredictability, his narcissism and his decision-making intuition rather than the outcome of collective reflection, Donald Trump would be imposing a new method of diplomacy on the planet? It is true that, on the Korean record, he was lucky enough to find in Kim Jong-un a symmetrical personality of his own: the two monsters (in the etymological sense) of international politics can find psychological common ground by the very fact of their shared monstrosity.
Donald Trump’s consummate art of blowing hot then cold served him well in this negotiation. His letter to Kim Jong-un of May 25, polite in form but firm on the merits, in which he resigned himself to the cancellation the scheduled meeting due to the apparent intransigence of the Korean party, is a model of its kind.
Things moved forward because the North Koreans were forced to do something. Having learned the lessons of the New York real estate jungle, Trump wanted to show that he was not ready to be taken for a fool on any deal. This is clear: the military denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in exchange for American diplomatic recognition, an abandonment of sanctions and economic aid.
A Trump constant has been reassurance that he is not looking for “regime change”. This American president adores the military, proclaims “America first”, but is anything but a neoconservative: he considers it crazy to want to impose democracy on other peoples by force.
In his relations with Europe, Trump changed the traditional transatlantic relationship, founded since 1945 on benevolent paternalism. “No more taking advantage of us!” America’s President now says to America’s former protégés. He demands that they spend more on their defence and imposes extraordinary tariffs to reduce the EU’s trade surplus with the United States.
The European Commission reacted smartly by increasing the EU’s external tariffs on agricultural products from mid-Western and Southern States that voted for Trump in November 2016. Swedish Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said that the current US president only understood power struggles and would have nothing to do with the written rules of the WTO (World Trade Organization).
The only piece of legislation that Trump respects is the US Constitution, because it is an untouchable Bible for his compatriots. International treaties are for him rags of paper, scarcely worthy of consideration. But, paradoxically, by his very un-diplomatic method of kicking the anthill, he will bring about a considerable improvement in the WTO rules, both in their drafting and in their execution.
For he is the first to have risen loud and clear against a reality that was hitherto silenced: the systematic extortion of technology by the Chinese blackmail of Western companies have created joint ventures in China.
This plundering of Western patents has never been sanctioned by the Chinese courts that are entirely subject to the Communist Party and the Beijing executive. If one day China really decides to comply with WTO rules, it will have been thanks to Trump.
On the domestic front, its pro-business policy and lower taxes have boosted the US economy as never before. The unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 per cent and never have so many blacks and Hispanics been hired.
Will Trump be able, with the simple words he loves, to proclaim to American voters, by the beginning of autumn, a triple success – “I stopped illegal immigration; I created more jobs than any of my predecessors; I removed the nuclear threat from North Korea? If he can, he will win the mid-term elections in November 2018, and rush towards possible re-election in 2020 …
This article first appeared in Le Figaro.
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