Of course it takes two or more to make a “deal,” and the statement implied (for the first time) that this President is interested in negotiating a way out of the nuclear stand-off on the peninsula.
As to whether North Korea would be willing to deal away its nuclear and/or missile programs, the President also said, “I do see some movement,” but he did not elaborate.
A little more than a month ago, President Trump referred to negotiations with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, as a waste of time. He said that his own Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, should “save [his] energy.”
The tone in Seoul, then, was markedly different from that of the early-October tweet storm on the same subject.
In one recent hopeful portent for peace in the region, South Korea and the People’s Republic of China struck a deal in late October. China dropped its objections to the deployment, within Korea, of America’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system of missile defense. This came at the same time as (and may in some sense have been quid pro quo for) a statement by the Foreign Minister of South Korea that her country had no intention of joining a broader regional missile defense compact that might be intended as a counterweight to China’s capability.
Left Wing View
To the left of center, there has been a fair amount of concern in recent days that POTUS may be planning a preemptive strike against North Korea. A group of eight Senators introduced legislation on October 31 that would prohibit Trump from spending any money on a military strike without a Congressional green light or a first strike from the North.
The Ploughshares Fund has warned that “one million people could die on first day of any preventive or preemptive war with North Korea.” Its tweet to that effect links to an article in Foreign Affairs by Scott D. Sagan on “why deterrence is still the best option.”
Another recent article in Foreign Affairs, in the May/June issue, expressed concern that the “impulsiveness, combativeness, and recklessness that characterized Donald Trump’s election campaign have survived the transition into the presidency” and could produce a “stumble into conflict” on the Korean peninsula.
Right Wing View
Many on the right side of center believe that Trump is a capable negotiator, master of the “art of the deal.” They see the call to “come to the table” and the fire-and-brimstone talk of a few weeks ago as two sides of the same negotiating strategy – Trump is playing both the “good cop” and the “bad cop” in the classic scenarios.
Neoconservative Max Boot, writing in Commentary, in the spirit of the “bad cop,” has said that North Korea continues “to act badly – testing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, repressing its own populace, and threatening its neighbors” simply “because it can.” And he believes that Trump approach to applying pressure on North Korea is the right one.
In the spirit of the “good cop” side of the routine, on Tuesday a Trump admirer tweeted, “POTUS believes it makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and to make a deal. Let’s see what happens.”
Other right-wing voices have made other uses of the situation in that peninsula in recent days. Breitbart, for example, reports that North Korea’s official newspaper has “cited Sen. Bob Corker to support its own attacks on President Trump.”
So presumably Sen. Corker (R-TN) is wrong about something (his inadequate enthusiasm for Trump’s leadership?) because North Korea is evil. Or … something.