The Blah Blah President

Donald Trump has already torn up several international deals, but he has yet to bring about an agreement of his own. Now he finally has to deliver.

Of course, after the canceled Korea summit, it is easy to heap scorn on Donald Trump. It would have been much better if there had been reason to congratulate him on a successful meeting, an exceptional peace treaty between the U.S. and North Korea, a rosy future for all of Asia. In that case, I believe he would have deserved not one Nobel Prize, but three.

As things stand, he can still attain the Nobel Prize. The matter has become far more complicated though. The North Korea flop is an example of this president’s main problem: Trump promises simple solutions, but in foreign affairs, simple solutions are usually unlikely. Especially when it comes to North Korea.

Anyone who has ever believed that this businessman in the White House could reach amazing results with his informal, unconventional ways is bound to be puzzled now. We are witnessing an unprecedented political drama: first, bluffs and threats, then flattery, then threats and then flattery again. The result is unpredictable, much like the two protagonists.

No ending is set in stone yet. One thing is certain however: Trump is gambling with maximum dedication. His reputation as a great dealmaker is at stake, but also his foreign policy, his swaggering and aggressive style, his lone wolf image. Not only did he promise to solve the North Korea problem with his “Art of the Deal,” he also wants to end the Middle East conflict and coerce Iran into a new nuclear deal.

The North Korean agreement is supposed to be his masterpiece. He needs it to silence all his critics, both in the U.S. and among the allied countries. In his unmistakable way, he has depicted practically all of his predecessors, along with their secretaries of state and top officials, as incompetent. Now he must deliver the goods to avoid being utterly humiliated. Thus far, he has accomplished nothing. All he has to show for his efforts is a whole lot of blah blah.

Therefore, Trump needs this agreement at least as desperately as Kim Jong Un, who wants to break his country’s international isolation. This explains why Trump is leaving the door open for an agreement. In his letter to Kim and in his statements, he has made it clear that he is still willing to talk.

In the end, Trump may well make some sort of compromise and sell it as a huge success. Otherwise, he will not reach any kind of quick solution. Kim is unlikely to give in to Trump’s largest demand and surrender all his weapons before sanctions are loosened, even though such an outcome would be desirable.

Trump has made a show of destroying many deals reached by Barack Obama: Iran, climate change, trade. Partly because they were compromises, “complete crap,” according to Trump. Nevertheless, he has been unable to bring about a single important and sustainable agreement of his own. It is about time he did that, and without starting a war. A political leader cannot rely solely on blah blah blah.

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