D.W. Ulsterman On The Art Of Diplomacy In The Age Of Trump

What is potentially taking place this week between North and South Korea is so historically significant it boggles the mind. For nearly seventy years the two nations have been glaring at the other while the lives of millions living on the Korean peninsula hoped all-out conflict would never come. Beyond the Koreas were Japan, China, and other nations who watched with nearly the same level of apprehension. Multiple U.S. presidents tried and failed to bring the two sides together.

Until now.

While much work remains to be done before the world can celebrate a true and lasting peace between North and South Korea we have never been so close to doing so as we are today.

The South Koreans have been quick to praise President Trump for his part in this historic opportunity. Mr. Trump, in turn, was just as quick to thank China for the role that government has played in helping to ensure the new Trump-era sanctions against North Korea were applied with far more consistent force.

All this recent good news might very well be the result of Donald Trump’s famous (infamous) reputation for unpredictability. His unique personality, his penchant for talking tough and then actually following through, has created an entirely different geopolitical dynamic.

Whether that proves to be for the better or worse remains to be seen but for now, other world leaders are not just taking note but taking the positions laid out by President Trump far more seriously than they did some of his presidential predecessors.

I am reminded of that scene in the Lord of the Rings trilogy when the good guys are gathered in front of Mordor and Sauron sends out a “diplomat” to try and cower the opposition into giving up.  It doesn’t go as Sauron likely hoped as a seething and impatient Aragorn decides the time for false talk is over. Once the deed is done Gimli issues a satisfied smirk as he remarks it appears negotiations have concluded.

Sometimes when confronting evil it is best to communicate one is willing to do almost anything to survive – including annihilation. That is the approach Mr. Trump took with North Korea and to this point, it appears to be working remarkably well. Leaving aside whatever feelings you might have regarding his personality, his bravado, his boasting, the President deserves considerable credit for bringing North and South Korea to the negotiating table with a chance to unite a people long fractured by a long-ago war.

It is a remarkable achievement – possibly one for the ages.


D.W. Ulsterman is an author, educator, socio-political commentator, and the creator of the popular San Juan Islands Mystery series.

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