It can only work on equal terms

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un: prior to the meeting on June 12 in Singapore

by Willy Wimmer

Already in the build-up to the 12 June 2018 meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s ruler Kim Jong Un one has the impression that all high-noon Hollywood fantasies are surpassed. On one hand, there is an American president who, as if in a revolutionary upsurge of the American people, was heaved into the presidential saddle to stop the visible decline of the United States. From north east Asia joins a youthful nobody in one of the most interesting hubs of the world, the efficient and glittering Singapore. The best thing you can say about the young leader, who is as youthful as he is powerful over a worn-out people, is the unbelievable astonishment that he had received his schooling in Switzerland. He is familiar with the Swiss Confederation and the mentality there, and if we are all lucky, also other Europeans are less unfamiliar to him than his compatriots are to us.
Everything seems to indicate that the outcome of the meeting is clear from the outset. Unless we are mistaken. Apart from prejudice against this closed country, there is a lack of substantial information here regarding North Korea. It is different in North Korea. Hermetically sealed and self-isolated, it could not be worse. And yet, with its North Korean branch, the Korean nation has a millennia-old ability to process the news of the world out of isolation, using information reels, so that policy can be shaped out of it. Such a nation has yet to be found on the globe, whose leadership, as in the North Korean part of the common Korean people, is able to deal so absolutely logical with the problems of the world. Cut off and isolated? Physically undoubtedly, but in no way mentally. And the people? The pictures shown here in the media are intended to portray the fairy-tale of the uniformed robots. Those who, like my companions and myself, managed to meet with groups of North Koreans without any official escort after a picnic trip in the alpine part of North Korea, were surprised by the amiable curiosity and a friendly openness. The images transmitted in the German-speaking and international media have just left their mark. And on the official level? North Korea has a clear approach, when they feel and prove that they are not being treated fairly in contracts. There is plenty of prove of this from the negotiations with the US. Finally, broken promises gave the impression that North Korea could slowly be brought into the status of a nation to be defeated with war. The highest authorities said that one should not be fooled in such a case. The North Korean mountain world would have such a multitude of caves that one should not be surprised by North Korean ingenuity when fraud is involved.
That is what President Trump is facing now, and the feeling will not attune as if an American super cop would meet a northeast Asian rice farmer. From a sporting point of view, it is not at all clear where to stop the chutzpah and its admiration on the part of Kim Jong Un. President Trump seems to feel similarly. He simply accepted that his Vice President Pence was put in his place by a North Korean official. But maybe that is exactly what Mike Pence emphasised. In the US, as a member of the Washington war party, you cannot think otherwise than in the Libyan categories, as Mike Pence tried to do. Immediately, he was most effectively rebuked, and President Trump knew what was important to Kim Jong Un. This one crucial question is important for the entire world. Will Singapore be about what the globe has known since the Spanish-American war or the US war against Austria-Hungary and imperial Germany, preparation for World War II and the Obama march against Russia? Or is Trump anchoring his country on the globe so that the US can distance itself from the “business model war”? The young man from Pyongyang is more than a sparring partner.     •

* Willy Wimmer was a CDU (Christian Democrats) member of the “Bundestag” from 1976–2009, Secretary of State in the German Ministry of Defense from 1988–1992 and Vice-President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly from 1994–2000. He is co-author of the book “Die Wiederkehr der Hasardeure. Schattenstrategen, Kriegstreiber, stille Profiteure 1914 und heute” (“The Gamblers’ Return. Shadow strategists, warmongers, silent profiteers, 1914 and today”) together with Wolfgang Effenberger, 2014 and author of the books “Die Akte Moskau” (“The Moscow File”), 2016 and “Deutschland im Umbruch. Vom Diskurs zum Konkurs – eine Republik wird abgewickelt” (Germany in transition. From discourse to bankruptcy – a republic is being processed), 2018.
(Translation Current Concerns)