Is The Trump Administration Planning To 'Wing' North Korea Summit?

With less than a week before a scheduled meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump's security team has yet to meet on the topic.

President Donald Trump waves near the entrance of Air Force One.

UPDATE: President Donald Trump is probably not alleviating any concerns raised by those who think he isn’t ready for his meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, based on statements he made Thursday afternoon.

When asked if he was prepared for his upcoming summit with Kim, in which the goal will be denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, Trump said he felt prepared enough, adding that it was more about having the proper “attitude” on what he wants to have happen.

“I think I'm very well prepared. I don't think I have to prepare very much,” Trump said while taking questions alongside Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “It's about attitude, it's about willingness to get things done.”

Trump added that the talks are about “a question of whether or not people want it [denuclearization] to happen, and we'll know that very quickly.”

That shouldn’t be the standard for preparation. But it’s what we should likely expect from an administration that doesn’t even really know what its goals should be.

We should demand more from this president and his cabinet when it comes to preparing for this important summit. Trump can’t go into this thinking he can just “wing” it.

If he does, he’ll end up looking like a dummy, and make Kim look more legitimate as a leader. That is the last thing anyone should want.

When preparing for a test or a job interview, a successful person will take the steps that are necessary in order to be confident and well-prepared. Yet that same principle of preparedness doesn’t hold true, it appears, for President Donald Trump and his upcoming meeting with North Korea.

Politico reported on Thursday morning that, ahead of his planned meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore, Trump and his National Security Adviser John Bolton have yet to have a top-level meeting of officials within the National Security Council, neither addressing the topic of the meeting nor even the subject of the country's nuclear ambitions at all.

Such a move is unheard of, and suggests the administration’s plan for the summit is simple: They’re going to “wing it.”

At least six officials within the White House said the overall plan when it comes to the talks with Kim is to improvise. Trump has yet to convene a meeting with the senior NSC officials and has rarely met with any of them, opting to speak primarily (and, it would seem solely) with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

It’s important for the president to speak with more than just one member of the NSC, and indeed he should speak with several heads of many security-related departments and bureaus within his cabinet. By not doing so, Trump “cannot understand the equities that different elements of the government have in this” summit, according to a former official within the administration of former President George W. Bush.

Trump is similarly preparing for — and apparently complaining about — an upcoming G-7 summit set to take place in Charlevoix, Quebec, this weekend. This meeting of dignitaries from around the world is a distraction to him, aides said he’s told them, as Trump believes his focus should be on the meeting with Kim and not these other allies.

Those complaints by the president should worry us a great deal — a president should be prepared to take on many tasks, not needing to focus on just one subject matter. The president had plenty of time to prepare for the planned G-7 conference, and has had months to lay out a plan on how to go about denuclearization in North Korea. He should have been ready for both by now.

Instead, we’re told by several officials in his own administration that Trump has absolutely no plan for his North Korea summit, and that his national security adviser has yet to convene a top-level meeting on the issue at all. That’s not how to best prepare for anything, let alone a topic of significant importance like nuclear politics.

The American people deserve better from their president when it comes to their security. 

Thumbnail/Banner Credit: Carlos Barria/Reuters


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