- President Donald Trump’s great achievement in diplomacy with North Korea went on full display on Sunday, when Pyongyang hosted a massive military parade with no nuclear missiles.
- A former Obama administration official told Business Insider that Obama warned Trump that war was coming if North Korea didn’t stop testing missiles.
- Trump hasn’t gotten North Korea to get rid of their nukes, but by getting North Korea to stop testing, he’s scored a big win in North Korea diplomacy.
President Donald Trump’s great achievement in diplomacy with North Korea went on full display on Sunday, when Pyongyang hosted a massive military parade with no nuclear missiles— something that the past administration suspected would bring the two countries to war.
At no point did North Korea display any nuclear weapons or nuclear related imagery, instead switching to slogans and parade floats focused on economic growth.
Trump, who maintains and publicizes warm relations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, thanked Kim for leaving the nuclear missiles parked, calling the parade “a big and very positive statement from North Korea.”
Judged by his own stated goal in North Korea talks, getting the country to abandon its nuclear weapons, Trump has by every measure failed outright.
But North Korea diplomacy can be about more than the simple issue of whether or not the country has nuclear weapons.
Trump has, multiple times,celebrated the success of his North Korean diplomacy whenit does nothing more than say nice things about himand continue not to test nuclear devices or missiles.
Trump has also referred to a warning given to him by former President Barack Obama about North Korea: “Before taking office people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea. President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer – sleep well tonight!”Trump tweeted after meeting Kim in Singapore.
Former US ambassador to Turkey, James Jeffrey, who worked for Obama,previously told Business Insiderthat Obama warned Trump that North Korea’s missiles would soon demonstrate the capability to strike the US, at which point US alliances in Asia would die off.
Furthermore, the Pentagon in Obama’s days predicted that the tests North Korea would need to do toprove their missiles worked would bring about war with the US.
Trump was “basically told [by Obama] if North Korea continued their tests, and they need more tests to have a survivable weapon, that would we would strike. Probably a limited strike,” said Jeffrey.
Frank Aum, the Pentagon’s senior advisor for North Korea under Obama, confirmed to Business Insider that there was a “general understanding that a red line would be an atmospheric nuclear test over the ocean or an [intermediate-range ballistic missile] test that lands in the vicinity of Guam.”
So even though Trump has failed to even loosen a screw on a single North Korean nuclear weapon, he’s demonstrably sidelined the nuclear issue and presided over an unprecedented pause in missile testing.
Much of Trump’s foreign policy holds the general public as the target audience, rather than arms control experts. Trump didn’t make North Korea’s nuclear weapons go away, but he made the immediate danger they pose to the US take a hike for now.