For the Obama Democrats, even the headlines have to be humiliating.
For the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency, North Korea expanded its nuclear weapons programs with impunity, defiantly claiming its right to weapons that threaten the globe while a cringing American administration stood helplessly to the side.
But a little more than a year into President Donald Trump’s first term, a turnaround might be in sight.
South Korean President Moon Ja-in told reporters in Seoul on Thursday that the North Korean regime is ready to talk about “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula ahead of a potential meeting between Trump and the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
And doing it without any deal-breakers on the table.
“North Korea is expressing a will for a complete denuclearization,” Moon said, according to Reuters.
“They have not attached any conditions that the U.S. cannot accept, such as the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea. All they are expressing is the end of hostile policies against North Korea, followed by a guarantee of security.”
Even liberal media outlets that have been at war with the Trump White House since its first days had to report the development:
CNN: “North Korea drops withdrawal of US forces as condition of denuclearization, Moon says”
The New York Times: “North Korea Removes Major Obstacle to U.S. Negotiations, South Says”
The Guardian: “North Korea wants total denuclearisation, says Seoul”
Funny that The Times couldn’t come right out and say what the “major obstacle” was, but any way you cut it, that’s a far cry from the North Korean situation Trump inherited from Obama – and one key figures in the Obama administration would never have predicted.
In August 2017, when U.S.-North Korean tensions were at their highest and Trump was warning North Korea of the “fire and fury” it faced from the United States, former Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice published an Op-Ed in The New York Times declaring that the United States could live with North Korea permanently armed with nuclear weapons.
“History shows that we can, if we must, tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea — the same way we tolerated the far greater threat of thousands of Soviet nuclear weapons during the Cold War,” she wrote. “It will require being pragmatic.”
What Obama’s gang calls “pragmatic,” the Trump White House calls appeasement.
And guess which approach is starting to pay off?
Trump’s get-tough attitude — a radical departure from Obama’s “strategic patience” policy of doing nothing — might have ratcheted up tensions with Pyongyang for a year, but also appears to have laid the groundwork for some final solution.
The secret trip to North Korea over Easter weekend by CIA Director and secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo had even some Democrats giving Trump grudging credit, according to The Washington Post.
It’s important to remember, of course, that the apparent progress with Pyongyang could still be an illusion. Kim’s predecessors as North Korean dictators made a habit of lying in international negotiations, then tearing up any agreements they made as soon as they got what they wanted out of them.
But the point is that Trump has pushed the North Koreans harder than any American has since MacArthur pounded them at Inchon, and if that “complete denuclearization” proposal that South Korea’s Moon’s announced Thursday has any reality to it, Trump will have brought prospects for a permanent peace agreement on the peninsula closer than they’ve been in decades.
And for Obama Democrats who were convinced there was no stopping the North, even the headlines about the possibility have to be humiliating.
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