Fortenberry Calls Singapore Summit “Stunning”

In his column Fort Report, Representative Jeff Fortenberry calls describes the  recent events with North Korean stunning.

Fortenberry: “It’s the best word I could use to describe the events this week with North Korea.

The Trump-Kim Summit in Singapore was historic, bold, and just a short time ago—unimaginable.

North Korea’s aggressive posture seemed to face no rational end as they threatened their neighbors and the U.S. territory of Guam with a nuclear conflagration. Now, the emerging prospect of reconciliation gives the world some measure of hope of moving from destructive probability to imaginative possibility.

Here’s how we got here.

First, President Trump’s clarity. He said to Kim Jong-un: we will deal with you, for good or for bad. If it’s for bad, and you move your finger toward a nuclear trigger, you are going to have a really bad day.

If for good, let’s talk. Let’s see if there can be a relational renewal and a movement past the tragic stalemate of the last 65 years. Cornering a dictator is one thing; providing him an effective exit strategy is another.

Second, economics. Military strength combined with maximum economic pressure by a unified international community created a real bite to North Korea’s capacity to sustain its current trajectory. In a time of severely strained relations with Russia and a rough patch with China, the world’s powers held together.

Third, deft diplomacy.

Some credit here goes to South Korea and that country’s ability to utilize the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang–only 50 miles from the North Korean border–to create a moment of proximity between North Korea and the United States.

In my lengthy conversation with South Korea’s Ambassador to the U.S., he held great expectation for the symbolic importance of the moment. America’s diplomatic disposition, with South Korea’s navigational guidance, gave Kim the off-ramp he needed to step out of the status quo stalemate.

Fourth, China. Recall that just a few months ago, Kim Jong-Un took an armored train to the People’s Republic. This mysterious event had to be a variable in Kim’s change of behavior.

China has played a double game with us for a long time. They want the U.S. tied up by North Korea, but perhaps the destabilizing threats from the North were too much for China’s long-term strategy. Kim got called to the principal’s office. He found himself unable to triangulate out of another crisis.

While the global community played critical roles in this unprecedented outcome, the combination of diplomatic entrepreneurialism and foreign policy realism created the space for a radical break from the ossified proceduralism that has long dominated international relations.

The world is screaming for an interpersonal ecosystem—in our homes, in our communities, and between nations. As destructive technology races forward, a new 21st century architecture of diplomacy is needed for mutuality and well-being.

As Kim himself said, “It was not easy to get here. The past worked as fetters on our limbs, and the old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward. But we overcame all of them, and we are here today.”

This new approach discards the protocols of the global managerialist elites and the style-point grading system of media conglomerates. It was a direct and authentic negotiation.

Some commentators have said that the President should never have met with a tyrant with such a grotesque human rights record. A legitimate concern. However, the alternative cannot be to continue buzzing North Korea with B-52s for the next 100 years.

North Korea is not going to swiftly and magically transform into some Jeffersonian democracy. But movement towards integration with the South, a transitional step back from the nuclear abyss, and a crack of openness to the outside world should be welcomed.

If fully realized, the Singapore Summit represents a real breakthrough in ending hostilities on the Korean Peninsula and a sneak peek at what the world can achieve through leadership, great effort, and steady resolve. Stunning.”


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