The current problem with this meeting stems from the “Evils of Summitry” as Henry Kissinger referred to it.
When powerful leaders meet in a public Summit the media, political pundits, and other foreign nations pile on and make projections about the outcome. They criticize the process and spend inordinate time micro-examining events seeking to find some body language or some incident that they can spin to their political advantage. Sometimes, such speculation can actually influence negotiations.
That is what made Henry Kissinger so valuable to President Nixon. Kissinger informed Nixon that if he should attempt to open a dialog with Mao of China or Brezhnev of Russia the media and his opponents would sabotage talks before they began.
His suggestion: have intermediaries meet in private to discuss the important issues. Once an agreement has been reached, then announce a “Summit” whose purpose is merely to bless the solution and not conduct discussions. This prevented either side from taking advantage of the optics for political purposes and prevented the media from creating chaos.
Kissinger did just that with both Russia and China. Result: successful summits and a movement towards easing the tensions of the Cold War which was getting very hot at that time. The media was left merely reporting results.
Perhaps President Trump could benefit from this example, if he hasn’t already. When talks conducted by intermediaries fail, you walk-out and nothing is gained or lost. If success, both leaders can shake hands with smiles and congratulations.
Kim and Trump have yet to meet and already the media, political pundits, and opponents to everything Trump are criticizing the process. The anti-Trump forces are already arrayed in battle formation. Hopefully, the President and his advisors have followed the path of Kissinger and have already formulated an arrangement and this meeting is merely a recognition of things accomplished.
Otherwise, expect this movement for peace in a troubled region to be sabotaged on the altar of political partisanship. Which is a relatively new phenomenon because the general rule used to be “politics ended at the water’s edge.” Today, partisanship rules every aspect of government… to the detriment of the people and potentially world peace.
Sad to think that some people would rather see international threats continue rather than peace expand because they do not wish to give credit to a political opponent. But that is where we are today… and it will remain that way until the American people have had enough
Ron Chapman is a award winning columnist, professor and business person