The announcement that President Donald Trump is going to have a Summit Meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was met with considerable shock and awe, according to the Washington Examiner. The subject of the talks will apparently be the denuclearization of North Korea in exchange for some guarantee for the security of the regime. The meeting was apparently brokered by the government of South Korea.

Triumph or surrender?

The media and much of the foreign policy establishment did not know what to make of the announcement. The meme for most of the Trump presidency has been that the president was risking a nuclear war with North Korea, especially when Trump boasted that his nuclear button was bigger than Kim’s.

North Korea had been conducting tests of missiles and nuclear bombs with a clear intent to intimidate its neighbors as well as the United States. America and her allies have, in turn, been conducting military maneuvers and have been hinting at a first strike to destroy North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and perhaps effect regime change.

Now, some of the foreign policy establishment, such as Jeffrey Lewis, are afraid that President Trump is giving away the store.

To be sure, North Korea has made nuclear agreements before, only to renege.

However, Trump and his very able national security and foreign policy advisors know this, and hence the president will be entering into the summit meeting with open eyes.

A possible summit strategy

If North Korea offers to give up its Nuclear Weapons, Trump must insist on a number of things. First, the process has to be transparent and open to inspection.

Nothing can be given away, such as an easing of sanctions, before North Korea destroys not only its last nuclear weapon but its ability to build more devices.

Trump also has to insist that North Korea become more forthcoming on the subject of human rights if it expects to be treated as an ordinary nation. Kim rules his country like a god-king while presiding over a long-running famine that has caused many of his people to starve.

If Kim demands some kind of security guarantee, his regime has to moderate his behavior, if for nothing else than an absolute tyranny is by definition unstable.

Trump also has to be willing to walk away, much as President Reagan was at Reykjavik. He has to impress on Kim that the alternative is denuclearization and the moderation of his regime or it will be the destruction of his regime. The strategy will be to effect a Munich in reverse, in which the North Korean regime capitulates.