North & South Korea Are Ending A 65-Year War & Here's How Trump Is Trying To Take Credit
On Friday, a meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea ended in a historic agreement to take steps toward denuclearizing the peninsula and ending the 68-year-long Korean War. The conference was organized by the two nations and attended solely by their representatives. But of course, President Trump took some credit for the Korean summit meeting later that day on Twitter.
"KOREAN WAR TO END!" he tweeted (a somewhat premature declaration). "The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!"
Rather than congratulate South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump praised China for the "great help" that President Xi Jinping "has given to the United States" by helping to promote peace between the Koreas.
"Please do not forget the great help that my good friend, President Xi of China, has given to the United States, particularly at the Border of North Korea," he wrote. "Without him it would have been a much longer, tougher, process!"
Trump's boastful language doesn't exact suit a meeting that was initiated entirely by the two Koreas. The conference was planned at the end of March during high-level talks between Korean officials. Since then, representatives from the two countries have continued to meet to plan the details of the meeting.
This latest movement toward peace began on the peninsula, too. North Korea's decision to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang helped warm relations between the countries, as did a speech Kim gave on New Year's Day in which he first brought up the idea of sending a delegation and expressed hopes for a "peaceful resolution with our southern border." At the Olympics, athletes from the North and South marched together under the Korean Unification Flag.
Moon met with Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, at the games, who extended an invitation for Moon to visit the North. Meetings between the nations have been occurring since then, culminating in Friday's historic conference.
North Korea has a summit meeting planned with the United States, too. In early March, a top-ranking official in the South — who had just met with Northern officials — delivered an invitation to Trump to meet with Kim Jong Un, which the president accepted. On April 9, Trump said he planned to meet Kim in May or early June.
The amount of credit that Trump deserves for these developments is being hotly debated. The president has engaged in an aggressive war of words with Kim for much of his tenure in office. His rhetoric, including talk of raining down "fire and fury like the world has never seen" on North Korea, had many worried that the threats between the leaders would escalate into nuclear war.
Trump's language has certainly been much harsher than that used by other U.S. presidents in recent years, so some have wondered whether it put pressure on Kim that led him to a willingness to negotiate. (Of course, in substance — not just rhetoric — many experts believe that Trump's North Korea policy hasn't differed much from Obama's, according to Politico.)
But many aren't convinced. Suzanne DiMaggio of the New America Foundation told The Atlantic that Trump probably doesn't deserve credit, and that the thawing of relations between the Koreas has more to do with the recent progress of the North's nuclear program.
"If you look at what the North Koreans have been saying, they have made it clear that they were willing to come to the table when they felt they were able to deter an attack from the United States," she said. "Well, now they feel that they can do that."
A BBC analysis of whether the United States can take any responsibility for the summit meeting concluded: "Only the historical record will reveal what influenced these talks, but evidence suggests it was the South Koreans who encouraged dialogue with the North, along with pressure from Chinese enforced sanctions."
The agreement reached by Moon and Kim on Friday lacks details, including a timeline for denuclearization. But it is a step. Another major development will occur in the coming weeks when Kim meets with Trump.