The summit in Hanoi was over even before the planned lunch and joint signing; and all the vague optimism of last year’s summit evaporated as Trump “had to walk”, with Kim wanting nothing short of the US dropping all sanctions without having to give up their nuclear weapons. The failure to even appear to be on the same page goes to prove that recent vague optimism in (various) negotiations is little indication of the chances of an actual deal. Just saying, as Trump did, that "The relationship is just very strong and when you have a good relationship a lot of good things happen" doesn’t make it comprehensively true (unless he was referring to their Shrimp Cocktail, Grilled Sirloin with Pear Kimchi and chocolate lava cake dinner which sounds comprehensively delicious).
Trump insisted there was "no rush" but that "We just want to do the right deal". But the right deal was probably the Non-Proliferation Treaty North Korea signed almost 35 years ago, threatened to leave 25 years ago and still withdrew from in 2003 after getting aid to build two nuclear reactors. Or the $400m aid for reactor over a decade ago which fell through as deadlines were missed and inspectors were sent away. More troubling and more recently the despotism claimed to be capable of building nukes small enough to fit on a missile, and last year the country claimed it can “reach anywhere in the world” with their intercontinental ballistic missiles which they tested and accelerated production of – which is what brought on the additional sanctions.
Sadly, decades of failure prove that balancing the urgencies - of reorienting their leadership’s hunger for power and considering the actual hunger and needs of its beleaguered people is a tall order, but the delegates deliver to Hanoi yesterday were short on ideas (amongst other things). Yet, there remain too many who actually deserve and need a free lunch, and here’s hoping that Trump and the international community can find worthwhile ground, kindness and leverage to bring some transitional relief without empowering despots or kicking this nuclear can down the road indefinitely.
Last weekend Trump tweeted “I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial Nation one day,” unfortunately yesterday was not a step towards that day.