MAGIC WALL: Kim's "big change"

A year ago, Trump threatened "fire and fury" against North Korea. Now, Trump believes he and Kim Jong Un are headed towards peace. Is this "big change" real? Gordon Chang and Dr. Kathy Moon join CNN's John King.

Posted: Jun 13, 2018 6:23 AM
Updated: Jun 13, 2018 6:37 AM

The summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un undeniably deserved the overused epithet "historic."

Hopes for peace were palpable as they radiated out of Singapore. Given the real fears just six months ago that the US and North Korea were heading for a horrendous war amid Trump's "fire and fury" rhetoric and Kim's nuclear tests, that is a significant achievement in itself.

But the almost dreamlike encounter between the President of the United States and the supreme leader of the world's most repressive state ended with mounting questions about what actually had been achieved, who had won most, and what will happen next.

Trump's showstopping moment

Trump and Kim both got what they wanted from a propaganda bonanza punctuated by multiple photo-ops that will help cement the political legitimacy of both men in their vastly different contexts back home.

It might have been the reality star-turned-President's most spectacular made-for-television event yet, as the globe tuned in to see him pull off an improbable feat in luring the leader of North Korea out of the cold for a summit than none of his predecessors ever attempted.

Characteristically, Trump cited Kim's praise of his efforts.

"He said, 'we have never gone this far.' I don't think they've ever had the confidence, frankly, in a president that they have right now for getting things done and having the ability to get things done," Trump said.

The White House is likely to use the summit to frame Trump as a daring peacemaker as he heads into troublesome midterm elections. And the carnival atmosphere in Singapore might also keep Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation out of the headlines for a few more days.

Kim's moment in the spotlight

For Kim, the spectacle was almost the entire point of the summit.

He accepted the ultimate affirmation for his dynastic rule by meeting a US President who gushed that he was "a very talented man." His two days in the spotlight will solidify his developing image as an increasingly dexterous regional statesman -- a status no North Korean leader has ever enjoyed.

In a walkabout below the soaring, gleaming Singapore skyline, the ruthless dictator was treated like a celebrity, in scenes that along with Trump's embrace are sure to be used by Pyongyang's official media for years in films and murals designed to puff up Kim's personality cult.

Trump even gave him a tour of his personal "Beast" armored limousine.

The summit could also create a hopeful atmosphere that could make China and other nations less inclined to enforce the rigid economic sanctions that have led to the success of Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign that got Kim to the table.

What did Trump actually get and what did he give up?

The President made the case that he had forged an instant brotherhood with Kim that will uniquely position him to preside over the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

"He trusts me, I believe, I really do," Trump said in an interview with ABC News. "I think he trusts me, and I trust him."

If this meeting sparks a diplomatic process that ends the North Korean nuclear threat, and heals one of the oldest open diplomatic sores in history, it will deserve a place in the pantheon of summits involving presidents like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

And Trump will deserve credit for an astute use of presidential power, a willingness to take risks and might even get the Nobel Peace Prize that even his enemies should not begrudge him.

But those wins seem as distant as ever after the summit.

"It seems to me that Donald Trump made a lot of concessions and got very little in return," said historian and CNN national security and defense analyst Max Boot.

The joint declaration issued by the two sides after the summit did not appear to make any significant progress in committing the North Koreans to the complete, irreversible and verifiable dismantling of Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal that the administration wants.

It included a tepid commitment from the North Koreans to "work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" and for follow-up talks led from the US side by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The use of the word "reaffirmed" in the declaration served to highlight the lack of fresh commitments and it did not include a pledge by North Korea for an accounting of its missile and nuclear programs that many analysts saw before the summit as a test of its success.

What does denuclearization actually mean?

There also was no sign that the two sides had narrowed the contradiction in their positions about what denuclearization actually means.

The US says it's self-explanatory -- Pyongyang must get rid of its nukes. But the North Koreans define the concept as the disappearance of America's nuclear umbrella that protects South Korea.

The summit statement also appeared to fall short of previous declarations by the United States and North Korea, inked under the regimes of Kim's grandfather Kim Il Sung and father Kim Jong Il. And now North Korea is believed to have a nuclear arsenal of 20-60 weapons and is close to putting a device atop an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit the United States.

"Unfortunately, it is still unclear whether the two sides are on the same page about definitions and the pace, and the sequencing of many steps involved in the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

The President did reveal that Kim told him he had already destroyed a major missile engine site -- though it was not clear how significant this step was or how it could be verified.

And amid some consternation among even his fellow Republicans that he has given too much away, Trump promised to be vigilant.

"Our eyes are wide open, but peace is always worth the effort, especially in this case," Trump said.

US troops on the table?

Kim came away with an unexpected gift, after Trump shocked his allies in Seoul and his own military by calling a halt to joint US-South Korean military exercises about which Pyongyang has long fumed.

Trump called the exercises "provocative" -- adopting North Korea's own rhetoric and said canceling them for as long as dialogue was working out would save a lot of money.

His offer will reinforce worries in Congress that the President, who has long disputed the value of US garrisons abroad, is preparing to put the presence of thousands of US troops on the negotiating table. And it will delight China, which is seeking to overtake the United States as the premier military power in the Asia Pacific region.

What about human rights and coddling dictators?

There was something almost chilling in seeing the President fete Kim in front of a backdrop of US and North Korean flags.

After all, Kim presides over the world's most oppressive state, with a record of enslaving and starving his people, and was responsible for the death of a US prisoner Otto Warmbier last year.

The meeting also represented a stunning about face for traditional US foreign policy.

Two days before Trump told the world that Kim "loves his country very much," he blasted America's oldest allies after an acrimonious G7 summit and one of his top advisers warned there was "a special place in hell" reserved for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

That juxtaposition reflected the way Trump often chides America's oldest friends, but seems comfortable in the company of authoritarians like Kim, Russian President Vladimir Putin and China's President Xi Jinping.

In some senses, Trump was right that only he could have engineered the summit.

This moment in history may have been tailor-made for a US president ready to downplay America's traditional concerns about human rights, and who is willing to dine with Kim to remove a grave military threat.

But critics will still accuse Trump of appeasing a ruthless dictator.

What's next?

What happens in the coming months will decide whether the summit comes to be seen as a true breakthrough moment or a low point of American diplomacy.

It will now be up to Pompeo to conduct the kind of exhaustive talks in pursuit of a nuclear arms reduction accord that ironically was the main job of his predecessor John Kerry, who spent years chasing the Iran deal from which Trump withdrew.

Trump insisted in Singapore that North Korea was serious about its willingness to give up its nuclear weapons. Everything will now depend on whether Kim has made that strategic choice in the hope of transforming his primitive economy.

But there is still no evidence that Pyongyang has dropped its habitual practice of demanding concessions in a drawn out negotiating process that always leaves its weapons programs intact.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 150664

Reported Deaths: 4008
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion24697784
Lake13220352
St. Joseph8877159
Elkhart8469132
Allen7880222
Hamilton5962113
Vanderburgh559360
Tippecanoe354714
Monroe320738
Hendricks3183130
Johnson2995128
Porter297848
Clark285461
Delaware282074
Vigo252637
Madison229593
Cass222021
LaPorte215557
Warrick188464
Kosciusko176823
Floyd174867
Howard158866
Bartholomew139758
Dubois135125
Marshall132526
Henry122628
Grant120939
Wayne119327
Boone118848
Hancock114145
Noble113533
Jackson108713
Morgan92240
Dearborn91628
Daviess84033
Gibson83411
Clinton81616
Shelby79429
Lawrence78534
LaGrange76715
Harrison74024
Putnam71016
Knox70310
DeKalb69411
Posey6796
Steuben6008
Fayette58517
Miami5845
Montgomery57222
White56815
Jasper5624
Greene51837
Scott50813
Decatur49839
Adams4725
Clay4346
Whitley4316
Sullivan42812
Ripley4228
Wells4155
Starke3937
Wabash3919
Orange38725
Huntington3785
Spencer3706
Franklin36525
Jennings36013
Washington3592
Randolph3398
Fulton3362
Jefferson3305
Pike31913
Carroll31413
Perry29514
Jay2876
Fountain2863
Tipton26823
Parke2203
Newton21811
Vermillion2181
Rush2044
Owen2021
Martin1950
Blackford1923
Crawford1491
Pulaski1471
Brown1303
Ohio1227
Benton1070
Union1040
Switzerland890
Warren751
Unassigned0233

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 185639

Reported Deaths: 5083
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin30978635
Cuyahoga19436675
Hamilton16234338
Montgomery10083186
Lucas8175370
Butler8028123
Summit6555261
Warren406360
Stark3696178
Mahoning3635283
Marion335149
Pickaway296946
Delaware281127
Lorain266689
Fairfield257856
Licking248865
Wood244681
Clark242454
Clermont234937
Trumbull2221134
Greene219640
Columbiana210187
Allen203873
Miami195656
Lake188357
Medina180242
Portage156167
Mercer147128
Ross133833
Wayne131568
Richland128624
Tuscarawas123622
Athens11742
Erie113853
Darke110151
Madison103514
Hancock103023
Auglaize95116
Putnam91527
Lawrence90725
Shelby86814
Muskingum8434
Geauga83650
Scioto8059
Belmont78427
Union7343
Ashtabula72148
Huron69910
Sandusky69422
Preble59517
Seneca58514
Holmes57010
Ottawa56830
Fulton5056
Jefferson4564
Henry45317
Defiance44413
Jackson4417
Clinton43613
Fayette4328
Crawford4308
Highland4024
Logan4023
Champaign3873
Ashland3735
Brown3683
Knox36215
Perry35411
Washington33323
Morrow3312
Hardin32113
Williams3194
Coshocton29812
Pike2880
Guernsey2878
Wyandot28413
Gallia27913
Van Wert2333
Meigs21012
Adams2036
Carroll1917
Paulding1901
Hocking1899
Monroe15218
Noble1210
Vinton903
Harrison793
Morgan740
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Few Clouds
52° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 52°
Angola
46° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 46°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
51° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 51°
Decatur
Broken Clouds
54° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 54°
Van Wert
Broken Clouds
54° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 54°
Warmer Thursday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events