Singapore Sling

I am not a Trump fan. He is a misogynist, showman, bully, and a protectionist. Those are verifiable. There is worse I call him in private. I am never sure of his motives. Nor am I a Kim Jong-un fan. He, his father and grandfather have run a totalitarian society that has led to almost three million of his countrymen dying of starvation while their regime survives.

However, in Singapore, these two most unlikely leaders have met and done something today that is hard to take in. It may just have changed the world.

Jaw, Jaw is always better than War, War and the meeting of President Trump and North Korean leader Chairman Kim Jong-un should be seen as very special. If it carries on and leads to a new peace on the Korean peninsula then rightly it will be hailed as a great breakthrough and even miraculous. In many ways it is.

We need to remember where we have come from.

There is an hostility between the two countries going back over 65 years. The Americans dropped more bombs on North Korea than they did on Germany during WW2, and although a technicality, you could argue that the USA and North Korea are still at war. In 1953 Military commanders from North Korea and the US-led United Nations Command only signed an armistice agreement. The armistice was only ever intended as a temporary measure.

Take this meeting at face value and it is a great step forward in world peace. However, cynics will say there is nothing concrete. I agree. Nothing much has changed. North Korea still has nuclear weapons and there are still draconian sanctions. But the agreement document shows intent and a direction. Let’s take the glass half full stance and be positive.

We know it is the beginning of a long and difficult process. We know that Presidents Obama and Ford have got this far with initial agreements but what is different this time is that by meeting the President and Chairman have given peace a momentum not previously generated.

As I said I don’t like President Trump. I thought his behaviour and attitude at the G7 was crass and possibly a greater threat to world order than North Korea, but today I will give him credit.

If this initiative is successful then the unusual, disruptive management style of late-night tweets to ‘rocket man’ will have been more successful than the old, cold diplomacy of the past.

Yet, despite my muted admiration President Trump has again managed to wind me up. I thank the BBC for extracting the following from his last Singapore press conference.

On the need to check notes from his meeting: “I have one of the great memories of all time. I don’t have to do that.”

On apologising if things don’t go as planned: “I think he’s gonna do these things. I may be wrong. I may stand before you in six months and say, hey, I was wrong,” he said, before adding: “I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that. But I’ll find some kind of an excuse.”

On why he thinks experts are wrong about denuclearisation taking 15 years: “I think whoever wrote that is wrong… There will be a point at which when you are 20%  through you can’t go back. I had an uncle who was a great professor for, I believe, 40 years at MIT. And I used to discuss nuclear with him all the time. He was a great expert. He was a great brilliant genius.”

Oh, well, I guess we can’t have both peace and humility.