North Korea

Trump’s Summit Ends With No Deal, Nothing At All

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

As recently as yesterday morning, Trump said his second meeting with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un would end with the two of them signing a piece of paper together, but they didn't even do that.

The final day of talks between the American and North Korean delegations were seemingly canceled on a whim early this morning and Trump walked away with nothing.

From Reuters:

The two leaders began their summit by expressing optimism and the White House announced they would sign a joint declaration, widely expected to at least reaffirm the general goals agreed to when Trump and Kim met for the first time in Singapore last year.

The ceremony, as well as a working lunch, was abruptly canceled.

“Not only did the Hanoi Summit fail to produce meaningful results, but Trump and his team have clearly squandered the seven months since Singapore to make progress on even modest steps toward the lofty Singapore Summit goals,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association.

This is somehow both a better and worse outcome than I expected.

On one hand it's good that Trump didn't formally give the entire game away by signing another piece of paper, but on the other hand he may as well have. Trump walks away from this meeting with nothing to show up for it except another highlight reel and more legitimacy for Kim Jong-un. The two sides did not agree to the meaning of words or even move toward formally declaring an end to the Korean War.

Kim Jong-un is in a better position today than Trump is because Trump was more thirsty for another meeting than Kim was. Trump agreed to this meeting on a whim and left his lackeys only a few weeks to prepare for it. The fact that they departed Washington with no clear goal or path to achieving something did not matter to Trump because all he wanted was another spectacle.

Here's a wonderful propaganda film for Kim Jong-un that was produced for him by the White House.


I don't see how anyone could still believe that Trump will negotiate his way to a nuclear-free Korea.

  • I can’t believe he didn’t even work out a “show” deal of stupidly broad, vague bullet points on a piece of paper to wave around like he’d actually accomplished something. He’s gotten lazy even in his lying.

  • Aynwrong

    I don’t see how anyone could still believe that Trump will negotiate his way to a nuclear-free Korea an argument between SpongeBob and Patrick.

  • muselet

    Steve Benen:

    The American president, facing scandal and tumult at home, likely thought he could score some kind of victory with his dictatorial pal in Pyongyang, which in turn would give him some bragging rights and positive headlines. But Kim asked for an end to U.S. sanctions; Trump couldn’t make that kind of concession; and so the Republican left with nothing.

    In fact, in some ways, it’s worse than nothing.

    Kim Jong-un received the international spotlight, gushing praise from the leader of the free world, and the validation that comes with being treated as a legitimate power by the United States. When a summit ends with satisfied party, and it’s not you, you’ve lost.

    On the bright side, Donald Trump didn’t promise Kim Jong-un Alaska and coastal Washington.

    –alopecia

    • JMAshby

      Steve Benen is one of the most clear-eyed writers out there and I’ve always respected his work, so I’m glad we’re on the same page.

  • katanahamon

    Amazing event yesterday with Cohen’s testimony. It really showed the dire situation in America today..we have the Repubs leading half the country into a completely fictional reality devoid of facts and morals. The Republicans on the committee embarrassed themselves by simply ignoring the issue of Rump the Chump’s crimes and trying to simply call Cohen a liar. Jordan was so incompetent he yielded his time before he could introduce a motion, another R said to Cohen that before today he “didn’t really know who he was.” It was a perfect example of our predicament. Now, no one has to tell the truth, or respect proceedings, or any outcomes because we can simply invent any reality we want to live in. I only hope this leads the Dems to open more inquiries, get more proof, and take prosecutorial action. Nothing else will suffice.