Mon, Jun 04, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Kim bets Trump will accept half a deal in Singapore talks

By Noah Feldman  /  Bloomberg

The downside of a partial Trump-Kim deal is that it would, in effect, reward Kim for the conduct that brought him onto Trump’s radar screen in the first place: testing nuclear bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

That is not ideal, because it sends the message to North Korea that the way to get concessions is to behave aggressively and ramp up fears of war.

The same message is also undesirable when directed to other nuclear powers, such as Pakistan, or near-nuclear powers such as Iran.

It says that the best way to get concessions from the US in the Trump era is to make threats, blow things up and then offer to negotiate.

Most significant, rewarding Kim sends a broader global message that confrontation and bluster is the way to win any sort of attention and make progress in any negotiation with Trump.

What works in nuclear policy can also work in trade policy. After all, confrontation followed by negotiation seems to be Trump’s own impulse, as seen in his trade policy toward China

There are global systemic costs to this high-risk approach to international problems. Raising the temperature in the hopes of being rewarded for lowering it only works if the threat is real.

That is one way wars start, whether trade wars or shooting wars. When both sides are trying to signal that they are dangerous and that their threats are serious, it becomes easy to misunderstand the other side’s strategy. Bluff leads to counter-bluff. Pretty quickly, it can become impossible to back away from threats.

When seen in the light of the Iran deal, it might make sense to pursue a similar deal with North Korea.

However, from a broader perspective, there is reason to fear the possibility that Trump would make peace with Kim without extracting meaningful concessions from him. Just this once, Bolton might be right.

This story has been viewed 3302 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top