United States President, Donald Trump in the early hours of Wednesday June 13 signed what he described as a “positive” document with North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un in Singapore.
Although details of the document were not made public and will ever be made public because of its security implication. The signing represents a remarkable determination on the part of Donald Trump to ease tension in the Korean Peninsula, and more fundamentally, a signal to US citizens and the world that contrary to all his pre-election postures in 2016, he is actually a man who cares for peace in a word rankled by insane leaders and their crazy policies.
Before his swearing-in as US 44th President, Trump’s “America First rhetoric had rankled many in different parts of the world. There were fears that in the pursuit of his ultra nationalistic philosophies, dislocations in present global security status quo might be affected for the worse. Indeed, if words and threat were al that it takes to win elections or even military combats, Trump had already won it before elections.
He had threatened to wipe out North Korea and her leaders. He had threatened to wipe ISIS and its affiliates out of existence—including might dare plead for mitigation, even if it meant hurting NATO allies and Russia. He had veilly warned Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian hedonistic Kings and Princes to shape up and reform most of their ancient religious laws that run counter to global norms and United Nations conventions or receive the back of America’s military and diplomatic co-operation. He had threatened to block all WTO countries from bringing in goods into American soil if they would not allow Americans market access into their countries. He had threatened to build a Berlin Wall across the border with Mexico, get NAFTA work the way it would favor Americans or scrap it altogether. He threatened to ban virtually anything and anyone opposed to his own ideal of America.
To him, African leaders were “shit holes “only good at duping their peoples. African children were “dirty immigrants” doing all sorts of duping and cheating in America. Asians were guilty of bypassing American groceries in downtown Manhattan and dumping their fabrics at Boston harbor. UN, he alleged, was always working against the interest of its landlord from its New York Towers. Never in history since the era of Franklin Roosevelt had Americans elected such an ultra-conservative leader who nearly almost made Americans believe that the world’s only surviving superpower does not need the rest of the world to get along.There were fears he could rush to press the nuclear button once North Korea provokes one.
But surprisingly, Trump has proved he is a good master of props and sound bite. He knows how to use words and posturing to extract worthwhile deals without sacrificing much. All the fears that, under Trump, the world may relapse into a world war is gradually giving way to a calculated, stealthy approach at resolving knotty and intricate issues that touch on global security balances. And for all his dogmatism in the current trade disputes with some blocs, Trump has been able to defend all his policies, making adjustments where necessary, without sacrificing his prime targets.
This is one more proof that in today’s complex trade and security politics, knowledgeable, sound leadership is a prerequisite. Foresight and the ability to periscope future exigencies, emerging threats and unfolding opportunities are added advantages. And quite unlike in many African countries, this is where the America people excel: choosing the right leaders at the right moment their nation needs such type; and not the type of leaders that create two or three more problems while solving one.
There is no doubt at all that North Korea as she is today is a threat to not only her neighbors, but to the entire world. And it is in human nature not to change course from already pre-determined objectives unless compelled or forced by disarm- ing circumstances. The issue of North Korean nuclear programme has gone on since the 1990s, not just today. Year by year, improvements and innovations with more precision-guided capabilities were being added to it. For a country as secretive as North Korea, series of inspections by UN-backed International Atomic Energy agency (IAEA) have at various times provided only but sketchy details of how far or near the present Korean leader and his late father had gone in per- fecting nuclear programmes capable of delivering missiles beyond the Asian Peninsula, and more fearfully a distant USA. Not until recently when the President of North Korea boasted that it has perfected the delivery of an intercontinental ballistic missile system capable of hitting Washington, following it up with staccato test detonations did the Washington establishment began to take him seriously.
In fact, as late as 2012 down to 2017, the programme had been in higher grade than previously rated, yet poorly verified by series of UN inspections. How much do you know about a project you did not know who drew the architecture, the depth of it and its other secretive nuances— evidence of the limited reliability of international inspections.
While North Korea was in essence building what could put her in near future on equal footing with USA, Russia, France Great Britain and the club of super military lords, series of US presidents from the tenure of Bill Clinton to the tenure of Barrack Obama seemed pre-occupied with home politics of extreme this and extreme that, tax cuts and Mexican immigrants. Bush Jnr seemed saddled with the unending expeditions of Desert storms in Iraq, continuing from where his father stopped. He could not monitor much of the North Korean nuclear programme. Obama was entangled with Osama Bin Laden’s hunt down, ISIS explosion and Arab Spring wahala such that he took little calculations of the actual size of things going on inside Kim Jung UN’s laboratory. Not until North Korea started exploding missiles in staccato in the past one year or so that it became apparent that the man was not joking.
Riled in the past nearly a decade or so by punitive sanctions that forbade her from importing even Kerosene from the outside world, Kim lacking no further means to unleash his frustrations as riots threatened his authority, found it tactically worthwhile to start pressing the nuclear buttons, no matter the status of international safety standards put in place.
Trump himself stung by initially public image perception crisis initially found it demeaning for a super power as Washington contemplating negotiating or bargaining with the North Korean leader over his nuclear missiles programmes. In diplomacy, body language matters a lot and actions speak a volume words. It would appear to Washington establishment headed by Trump not to want to accord Pyongyang that kind of Superpower attention it was seeking by sitting side by side with Trump—the sort of two super powers meeting as in those days of Raegan/Gorbachev or Bush/Queen Elizabeth meet. Trump’s decision which led to this change of position and the consequent attendance to the Singapore summit with Kim cannot in the least be perceived as a sign of capitulation to the obviously Kim’ quest for popularity and exaggerated ego trip.
This is where sound judgment and discretion as an indispensable leadership tool came handy in President Trump. No doubt he was satisfied by the outcome of the bargain and the concessions Jung Un made that he described them as “positive”.
In whichever way it is viewed, any cut or renunciation of North Korea’s nuclear programme bodes well not only for Washington at times like this, but the entire world, including Nigeria.
Nwokoro writes from Lagos