Walking Away


The AP reports that the Trump/Kim summit in Hanoi has broken up early because of a failure to reach a deal.

Trump, in a news conference after the summit abruptly shut down early, blamed the breakdown on North Korea’s insistence that all punishing sanctions that the U.S. has imposed on Pyongyang be lifted without the country committing to eliminate its nuclear arsenal.

“Sometimes you have to walk,” Trump explained, adding that he had a proposed agreement that was “ready to be signed.”

“I’d much rather do it right than do it fast,” the president said. “We’re in position to do something very special.”

Part of the art of the deal is the ability to patiently get up from the table and walk away until the other side is able to give you what you need. Trump, like Reagan with Gorbachev in 1987, seems willing to use that negotiating option. I wish him luck.

The AP couldn’t resist inserting this into the middle of their story—

The breakdown denied Trump a much-needed victory amid growing domestic turmoil back home, including congressional testimony this week by his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who called Trump a “racist” and “conman” and claimed prior knowledge of foreign powers’ efforts to help Trump win in 2016.

If the imagined fallout for Cohen’s testimony was part of the calculus for either side in the negotiation, Trump’s apparent non-concern for it should work to his advantage by demonstrating a resolve not to let domestic U.S. issues adversely affect a nuclear deal.

Who’s Next?


So Little Rocket Man may be giving up his nukes. We’ll see how that works out.

If it does, it will be an interesting precedent for other countries with weak economies that can’t carry the load of paying simultaneously for weapons development and economic development. Iran has a bigger economy than North Korea, but the mullahs have stunted their civil economies growth. Pakistan has lots of nukes and rampant poverty. The collapse of the Soviet Union was driven in large part by that country’s inability to pay for guns and butter. The Russians changed leaders, got a modestly improved economy, and kept their nukes. Will Kim preserve his hold on power by giving up his nukes for economic development? Will anyone else?

Stay tuned.