Columns, Opinion

Burke’s Bully Pulpit: Trump has been successful in dealing with Kim Jong-un

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders was correct during his town hall with CNN Monday night: It is a very good thing that President Donald Trump is going to the negotiating table with Kim Jong-un in an effort to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons.

“Nuclear weapons in the hands of a brutal, irresponsible dictator is a bad idea,” Sanders said, responding to a question from moderator Wolf Blitzer.

If you remember, in a time before Trump, North Korea was a real problem. This problem has been all but flattened under the Trump administration, something that I really think deserves recognition from both sides of the political spectrum. North Korea has not tested a missile since 2017.

I might not be Trump’s biggest fan in the world, but I applaud him for taking a no-nonsense stance up until this point. He has made Kim Jong-un look small and weak while former President Barack Obama let the threat linger to the point of complete uncertainty.

I remember being in high school and retweeting things from news agencies about how North Korea kept building their missile arsenal and running test after test. They threatened South Korea in 2011, saying that the South’s presidential office would soon be a “sea of fire.”

Now there’s a dialogue because Trump negotiated with Kim Jong-un in June 2018. Although nothing concrete was agreed upon in writing, it was a step in the right direction. It was baffling to see Trump shaking hands with the most ruthless dictator in the world, but it’s what needs to happen.

The Trump administration negotiated the release of three American detainees before the 2018 summit happened, so they went into the negotiations with a win already.

This time around, the ideal goal has to be disarming North Korea of its nuclear weapons. This move would surely keep Kim Jong-un in power longer, as economic sanctions against the country would most likely begin to lift as a result.

Whether or not this happens obviously remains to be seen. If it does, it would be an interesting selling point for Trump as the 2020 presidential election grows near. Democratic challengers will have to figure out a way to spin this topic while giving credit where it’s due.

Sanders did a nice job of this Monday night. We all know that giving Trump respect and praise seldom leads to compliments on Sanders’ end, but there was nothing else to say.

An interesting piece was published in the Japan Times recently, where a reporter suggested that Trump may have mixed up Japan’s leader with South Korea’s.

Trump boasted earlier this month that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had sent a letter nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize, but Japan did not comment on the statement, suggesting that Abe had never nominated Trump for the award.

Last year, however, it was South Korean President Moon Jae-in who said that Trump deserved the Nobel Prize. While I agree Trump should receive it if North Korea disarms, not knowing the difference between these two leaders is disappointing.  

While Trump may be a pain in the sides of many Americans, it is important to recognize the possibility denuclearizing North Korea could be a major part of his legacy. It would be an accomplishment worth noting for years to come and give him even more support in 2020.

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