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Homechevron_rightOpinionchevron_rightArticlechevron_rightThe debacle of

The debacle of summits


Within a short span, in the last three months of 2019 itself, a number of international summits of world leaders were held.  While writing this piece , the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) conference has just concluded at Abu Dhabi in UAE.  The Warsaw Summit in Poland on the Middle East security, the Sochi conclave in Russia on Syria and the deliberations at Sharam- el-sheikh  in Egypt were noteworthy.But, none of these embraced the attention of the entire world as the Hanoi summit in Vietnam between the US president Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Yong Un, held on 27th and 28th of February.

President Donald Trump reached Hanoi, traversing twenty two thousand miles. For Kim Jong Un, it is closer than Chicago to Los Angeles, only 1,700 miles, a shorter flight he had to take than he took to Singapore.  However, Vietnam, internationally isolated after twenty years of long war, took it as a chance to advertise itself on the world stage.  

The baffling thing is why President Trump had to walk away from Kim, acknowledging how their personal relationship could not carry them to a substantive denuclearization deal. There was no cause for anyone to celebrate.   Trump’s statement, “I’d much rather do it right rather than do it fast" echoed as the best outcome for Kim's rejoicing. 

It is observed that President Trump went to the Summit with unachievable goals. Known for his idiosyncrasies, he did not try to understand his counterpart and prepare for the complex negotiation. Naturally, the US intelligence experts could not think that he would even achieve the goals he pushed for.  Trump’s grand bargain was that North Korea should trade all its nuclear facilities and materials for an end to the US-led sanctions that squeeze its economy. His own aides, led by National Security Adviser John R. Bolton and the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,  could not foresee any prospect in the bargain.   Trump’s failed gambit exhibits his hubris and misjudgement  that he could easily intimidate the man he liked to call “THE little Rocket Man" with tough talk and sanctions.

Kim Jong Un also miscalculated about the bargain, it seems. His offer to dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear complex which he described as the heart of their nuclear programme,  for an end to the sanctions did not succeed.Pompeo, who as a former CIA director knew the details of the North Korean nuclear programme intimately opposed it.  If an agreement was signed for ‘Yongbyon’ alone, it would, according to Pompeo, encourage the young leader to pursue the nuclear programme in their underground stations.

Kim Jong Un has accepted moratorium on nuclear and missile testing, and in return the US has agreed to suspend or freeze additional joint military exercises with South Korea. These were the upshots emerged at their previous meeting in Singapore.  Actually, the Hanoi summit was held to review and solidify these agreements, and possibly implement some of them. But, they could not achieve it.

Trump has been entangled with frustrating antagonism from the US Congress. His domestic and international policies are criticized and censured by the Democrats.  The ill-conceived tariff war with China, the unplanned troop withdrawal from Syria and the US abdication of key international treaties like the Paris agreement on climate and the nuclear agreement with Iran- all these have brought chaos and damaged his credibility.         

No one was surprised by what Trump did.  The Hanoi summit has once more exposed the weakness of the US foreign policy.  Not only Trump, but most of the present day rulers also are motivated only by their self interests. They are glib, able to sing and dance with verbosity on the stage. Statesmen are wise and skilful with a clearly defined vision for their country and constituents. During their time in office, they try to accomplish them. But, now we find the rulers who direct their vision more towards their personal gain and advancement of their political party.  George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill and Jeveherlal Nehru were statesmen.  George W. Bush, Tony Blair,  Narasimha Rao and now Donald Trump and Narendra Modi- to mention some of them – are politicians whose interests can be defined in terms of power. 

Now, look at what happens in Venezuela. Venezuela is rich in oil, gas and gold reserves. Observers point out that this is the reason why Trump administration is promoting a campaign against the democratically elected Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. Very soon the E.U leaders stood behind the U.S and endorsed the economic sanctions against Venezuela and froze its foreign assets. Why does Donald Trump intervene to topple a democratically elected government?  Sadly but surely, the political leaders do not learn anything from the fate of the people who were killed during the last decades because of their rivalry. Their lack of vision causes interstate race for military supremacy. Unless they suppress their ego and accept a clearly defined vision for the sake of the people, this will continue unabated!

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