Jessica T. Mathews was President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace from 1997 until 2015 and is now a Distinguished Fellow there. She has served in the State Department and on the National Security Council staff in the White House. (August 2018)
There are two possibilities: either President Trump was as ignorant after his June 12 meeting with Kim Jong-un about what North Korea has in mind when it pledges “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” as he was in March when he rushed to accept Kim’s invitation to meet. Or the president knows that he got nothing. In that case, when he bragged on his way home that “this should have been done years ago” and later tweeted “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” he was simply being fraudulent in the way that works so well for him at home. Stripped of its made-for-TV trappings—the walk, the flags, the solemn handshake, and the breathless talk of history being made—nothing was actually agreed to at the summit.
After six years in which he never traveled outside his country, never met with a foreign head of state, and maintained relations ranging from frosty to terrible with South Korea, China, and the United States, Kim Jong-un opened up to all three of those countries over three stunning weeks in March. He established a direct line of communication with the South for the first time in eleven years, scheduled an April meeting with South Korean president Moon Jae-in, invited President Trump to a summit meeting currently planned for May, and then traveled secretly to China for meetings with Chinese president Xi Jinping.
Imagine a business deal among multiple parties. It is so complex that after years of negotiation the contract runs to 159 pages. Once agreed upon, the project proceeds without problems, but two years later one of the signers changes his mind. His lawyers rewrite some of the deal’s provisions, and …
Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy
by Trita Parsi
North Korea and Nuclear Weapons: Entering the New Era of Deterrence
edited by Sung Chull Kim and Michael D. Cohen
North Korea is years beyond the nuclear “breakout” the US so fears in Iran. Pyongyang’s first nuclear test was more than a decade ago. Four more have followed with yields up to twice the size of the Hiroshima bomb. The country is believed to have around twenty fission bombs and to be progressing along the path to a much larger hydrogen bomb. Moreover, the regime is consistently making faster progress on missile technology than US intelligence has expected.
Easternization: Asia’s Rise and America’s Decline from Obama to Trump and Beyond
by Gideon Rachman
Gideon Rachman’s Easternization, his new survey of a transformed Asia, admirably does what so little writing on foreign affairs attempts. It treats with equal facility economics, geopolitics, security, enough history for needed background, official thinking, and public attitudes. Rachman, chief foreign affairs columnist for the Financial Times, has an eye for the telling statistic and for the memorable detail that makes it stick. He packs an enormous amount of information into a short book and opens windows of understanding for nonexperts onto this immensely important three fifths of humanity. And while not directly concerned with the new American administration, the story he tells shows well why Donald Trump’s foreign policies could end so badly for the United States and for the world.
The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies
by Michael T. Flynn and Michael Ledeen
The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force
by Eliot A. Cohen
What Donald Trump has done is to take the few things on which neocons, realists, and liberal internationalists agree and throw them out the window. These are fundamentals of American foreign policy, taken as givens by both parties for the seven decades since the close of World War II. They include, first, the recognition of the immense value to the security of the United States provided by its allies and worldwide military and political alliances.