The President arrived in Singapore early this morning, ahead of the summit with Kim Jong Un of North Korea.
“I think I’m very well prepared. I don’t think I have to prepare very much,” Trump told reporters at the White House Thursday as he posed for photos with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “This isn’t a question of preparation. It’s a question of whether or not people want it to happen, and we’ll know that very quickly.”
The President’s supporters will view a day and a half as a short preparation time, pointing to the “very much” in the President’s statement. His detractors will point to where he said he was already prepared and suggest he merely wanted an excuse to leave the G-7 summit prematurely.
This will be the first face-to-face meeting between a sitting President and a North Korean leader. The two men will be meeting on Tuesday at Sentsosa, a resort hotel with full amenities, artificially constructed beaches and a Universal theme park.
The Trump administration’s view of the summit has changed dramatically over the last two months.
From CNN, shortly after the announcement of the summit:
President Donald Trump will not meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un unless North Korea takes “concrete and verifiable actions” toward denuclearization, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday.“They have made some major promises. They have made promises to denuclearize. They have made promises to stop nuclear and missile testing,” Sanders said. “We’re not going to have this meeting take place until we see concrete actions that match the words and the rhetoric of North Korea.”
From President Trump’s Twitter feed:
Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd of Fake News NBC just stated that we have given up so much in our negotiations with North Korea, and they have given up nothing. Wow, we haven’t given up anything & they have agreed to denuclearization (so great for World), site closure, & no more testing!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2018
From Washington Post, May 24:
“We’re going to see. I’d like to have it done immediately,” Trump said on “Fox & Friends” on Fox News. “But, you know, physically, a phase-in may be a little bit necessary, we will have to do a rapid phase in, but I’d like to see it done at one time.”
Today, from Reuters:
Trump, speaking in Canada on Saturday, said any agreement at the summit would be “spur of the moment,” underscoring the uncertain outcome of what he called a “mission of peace”.
Senior U.S. officials, echoing what Trump has said in recent days, said that at a minimum they would like the summit to serve as a start of a dialogue with North Korea.
It is worth noting that the North Koreans already have a success, by getting the one-on-one meeting in the first place. From Reuters:
“A summit is a reward to North Korea,” said Robert Kelly, a professor at South Korea’s Pusan National University. “It extends the prestige of meeting the head of state of the world’s strongest power and leading democracy. That is why we should not do it unless we get a meaningful concession from North Korea. That is why other presidents have not done it.”
That view continues to dominate the opinion of experienced diplomats and world leaders, but it has been lost to the average person because of the nature of technology.
The shifting policy has been aided by the nature of search engines. Because of the attention given to Trump, his stories fill the search engine results, and the results are arranged by their trending natures and by providing most recent articles first. Using this fact, Trump’s prior statements are unlikely to be found by people who are casually seeking to learn about a subject, and his changing stances are likely to never be seen. The search engines allow Trump to seem solid on issues no matter how many times or how quickly he changes positions. Even an attempt to discover what the original expectations of the summit were are clouded by seven pages of search results dedicated exclusively to the summit being “back on”.
Stepping away, then stepping back in, generated those stories, which in turn shapes the way people access the news.
To provide full disclosure, the author of this article wrote an opinion piece regarding expectations from this summit last week.