PROFESSOR GRAHAM ALLISON WRITES (COURTESY OF THE PACIFIC CENTURY INSTITUTTE) — As President Trump finally meets face to face with North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un at 9pm tonight in Singapore—which will be 9am Tuesday there—I’ve agreed to appear on the 9-10pm Eastern Fox News discussion. As I noted in this weekend’s Politico, to help us understand what we are likely to see, we need a “bettor’s guide” to the contenders, the stakes, the relevant history, and likely outcome.
Two months ago, in a longer Politico piece, “How Trump Can Win Big in North Korea,” I placed my bet on the outcome. Specifically, I wrote that Trump and Kim would each claim a “big win” and announce that “they had agreed to a framework to verifiably denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, establish a peace regime in which the parties vow to respect each other’s sovereignty and security, and move toward normalization of relations and a peace treaty ending the Korean War.” I also warned about the pitfalls on the long road from those fine words to the deeds required to actually realize these aspirations.
This past weekend’s piece sets the scene. Reading the communications between Trump and Kim, it’s hard to escape the sense that they have established a certain rapport. Both enjoy attracting attention and creating an atmosphere of suspense. Both imagine that they are going to establish what Humphrey Bogart called in the final line of Casablanca, a “beautiful friendship.” But we also know that both men clearly enjoy surprising others. That’s why, approaching the showdown, even the most confident bettors are hedging their bets.
Harvard Prof Allison is the author of the bestseller ‘Destined for War’. This short essay comes to Asia Media International courtesy of its alliance parter the Pacific Century Institute.