If Only Trump Had Followed Ike’s Playbook
“I shall go to Korea.”
That’s what President Donald Trump should have said.
Instead he pulled out of the North Korean summit altogether. Too bad.
Had he stayed in he would have sounded just like President Dwight Eisenhower all those years ago when Ike, as a presidential candidate, electrified the public when he promised to go to Korea and end the Korean War.
A hero of World War II, the former U.S. Army general, who led the Allied forces to victory over Nazi Germany, rode the issue to the White House in the 1952 election to succeed outgoing President Harry Truman.
Three weeks after the election, President-elect Eisenhower in great secrecy landed uninvited in Korea.
He toured the front, which was -- and is -- the 38th Parallel, talked with commanders and troops, and came up with a plan to end the war
Truman called the trip “a piece of demagoguery.” But six months into his presidency -- on July 26, 1953 -- Eisenhower announced that an armistice had been signed with North Korea and the war was over.
No one had invited Eisenhower to go to Korea. He just went and did what he had to do.
Instead of Korea, Trump was going to a summit in Singapore -- maybe, or maybe not, depending.
But Singapore? Not a single world leader, including Eisenhower, has ever uttered the words, “I shall go to Singapore.”
It just doesn’t sound right. It doesn’t have a ring to it. Anybody can go to Singapore.
In fact, when President Trump initially announced that he would meet in Singapore with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, formerly known as Rocket Man, he never said, “I shall go to Singapore.” Now he’s not going anywhere.
Maybe he sensed back then that the meeting with the devious leader of North Korea would somehow blow up. The “Art of the Deal” could suddenly turn into the “Deal with the Heel”, which it did.
The trouble is that instead of standing tall, Trump in an un-Trumpian tweet, said, “The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th. We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace.”
Now that is off the boards as well.
Kim Jong Un suddenly had misgivings. He used the long-scheduled joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea as a ruse -- or a bargaining chip -- to get concessions from Trump.
Fat chance. When Kim balked, Trump walked.
After meeting with South Korean President Moon at the White House last week, Trump said the meeting “may not work out for June 12.” And it didn’t.
What Trump could have said was, “I shall go to Korea -- anyway.”
Just think for a moment how much more dramatic that would have been.
He could have gone to Panmunjom on the 38th Parallel the way Ike did.
There Trump, backed by U.S. troops, and equipped with a flak jacket, a helmet and a set of binoculars, could have been pictured peering across no man’s land into North Korea.
Surrounded by television cameras -- and live on Fox News -- Trump could have shouted a challenge through loudspeakers to Kim Jong Un listening in Pyonpyang:
“Come on down, Kim, and let’s make a deal. You won’t regret it. You will not end up like Qaddafi. That was Obama’s fault. You will be safe. You will be happy. We have large sums of money to invest in your country. Let’s build golf courses and hotels instead of bombs and missiles. What have you got to lose?”
Should Kim Jong Un have still hesitated to meet, shake hands and hug at the DMZ, the way South Korean President Moon and Kim Jong Un did a couple of weeks ago, Trump could have come up with a deal-saver.
Trump could have said, “Look, Kim, if we pull this off we could share the Nobel Peace prize and the million bucks that goes with it. You like cash, don’t you? Obama got it for doing nothing. We could split it. Hell, I’ll let you have my share of the thing, cash included.
“I’ll get another when I do Iran.”
The bottom line on all of this is that Trump will not make a deal for the sake of making a deal, the way other presidents have with North Korea in the past.
And that’s a good thing.
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