The Meeting is Set: Will Trump & Kim’s Personalities Clash?

by: The Knowledge Group

May 21, 2018


President Trump has seemingly managed to achieve what U.S. presidents before him could not – bring North Korea to the talking table. Now that this feat is about to be realized, what exactly are the two sides going to talk about? Besides having the obligatory photo opportunity they can plaster back home? The challenge of pulling together momentous meetings is that one actually needs to have a really good plan or agenda before going into them. The meeting have been met with equal amounts of praise and skepticism as little is known at this stage what the agenda holds for this historic meeting.

For Trump, clearly North Korea’s nuclear capabilities are top billing. It’s also a hot ticket item for North Korea’s neighbor, China, as well, who agrees with Trump on maintaining sanctions as leverage on the matter. Equal thought and preparation need to go to the other points as well, even if they are somewhat further down the agenda. When Nixon went to China in the 1970’s, it was hailed a big success on both sides opening up the door to “Red China” and the Western World. The ramifications are now being seen with globalization. Yet big meetings can go south too; when John F. Kennedy met with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, the imbalance of experience triggered Soviet territorial aggression to see how far they could go with the young U.S. President via Cuba.

In this meeting with North Korea, both Trump and Kim are, to some extent, neophytes. They both lack years of experience in global diplomacy, and they both come into the Singapore meeting with big ideas un-tempered by political realities and bureaucratic statesmanship. That has the potential to be gunpowder and also has a lot of folks in traditional diplomatic circles very worried from trade, to Korean unification, to Asian politic balance dynamics.

The above is not to say Trump and Kim are rank amateurs; both are well-skilled at social survival and eliminating their enemies in daily circles. However, get beyond the rhetoric and the nuclear issue, and both men also need to consider what else they can use the meeting for. It may very well be the only time such a meeting occurs for the next 25 years if things go sideways, so making the best of the moment matters.

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