During the last week, it has become increasingly apparent that President Donald Trump may have been overly optimistic in his hopes that North Korea would soon be dismantling it nuclear arsenal. American intelligence agencies have found evidence that North Korea has ramped up its production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites.
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While it is too early to accuse Trump of being hoodwinked by North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un, we can only wonder what may happen next. If and when these reports are proven correct, how will our president react?
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As a guide, we can look to what may one day be known as the “Trump rule”: I am never wrong. From that rule we can derive the infallible strategy followed by the leader who is never wrong – you double down.
Trump’s initial gamble for peace was to cancel this August’s planned joint war games with South Korea. Perhaps he will offer the North Koreans an additional concession.
Generations of American negotiators have found the nuclear disarmament concessions of Kim’s father and grandfather not just unreliable, but never intended to be carried out.
Still, President Trump offered Kim a clean slate. Is Trump as naïve as his predecessors, or is he bold enough to give peace a chance?
Right now, a peace treaty finally ending the Korean War – let along North Korea’s nuclear disarmament – appear increasingly unlikely. So the big questions are what Trump will do in both the short term and the long term.
If he does double down with another concession which somehow leads to a peace settlement on the Korean peninsula, and ultimately, to North Korean nuclear disarmament, then Trump’s gamble will pay off. On the other hand, if it does not, then how will our president react?
Perhaps the best that can be hoped for is that he will settle for once again calling Kim “little rocket man.”
Steve Slavin has a PhD in economics from NYU, and taught for over thirty years at Brooklyn College, New York Institute of Technology, and New Jersey’s Union County College. He has written sixteen math and economics books including a widely used introductory economics textbook now in its eleventh edition (McGraw-Hill) and The Great American Economy (Prometheus Books) which was published last August.