So, it worked.
President Donald Trump’s inflammatory and bellicose ‘Little Rocket Man’ taunting at North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has, astonishingly, brought the pint-sized dictator to the negotiating table.
Trump’s ‘my nuclear button’s bigger than yours’ shock tactics scared the life out of almost everyone else, including me.
Donald Trump’s taunting at Kim Jong Un has brought the North Korean to the negotiating table
But it turns out there was method to his apparent madness.
In a stunning development, Jong Un’s agreed to meet Trump by May, and pledged to refrain from further nuclear and missile tests in the meantime.
Even more significantly, he is apparently ‘committed to denuclearization’ – according to South Korea’s government, after a meeting its officials held with Jong Un earlier this week.
Make no mistake, this is a massive win for Trump.
None of his predecessors as US President has ever been able to bring North Korea even remotely to heel.
Obviously, this is just the first move towards some kind of settlement and hope may still collapse as fast as it has just arrived. Frankly, I wouldn’t trust Kim Jong Un as far as I could hurl the portly little twerp.
But, and it’s a massive BUT, there’s no doubt this is a dramatic step forward in potentially neutralising the biggest threat to world peace.
South Korea’s national security adviser Chung Eui-yong meets Mr Trump in the US yesterday
For decades, North Korea has lied, ranted and cheated its way to full nuclear capability.
The chronic, shameful inaction by Trump’s predecessors in the White House has merely served to embolden the world’s most unstable dictatorship, rather than decapitate it.
Now, through a mixture of tough talk and wily diplomacy, Trump has succeeded where they so abjectly failed – albeit temporarily.
When he wasn’t personally abusing Jong Un on Twitter, the President was stepping up draconian economic sanctions, leaning on China and working hard with South Korea’s impressive leader, President Moon Jae-In.
The first sign of something big happening came three days ago when
Trump tweeted: ‘Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea. For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned. The World is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!’
Kim (centre) looks at an object claimed to be the hydrogen bomb North Korea tested last year
Last night, North Korea blinked.
Despite all his bonkers behaviour, Jong Un – like his father Kim Jong-il before him – is a cunning and pragmatic man when it comes to self-preservation.
The North Korean strategy has been to enhance its nuclear capability to the point where nobody dare try to pull an Iraq or Libya on its own regime.
And it’s been a chillingly successful tactic, which is worrying on many levels, not least because it might encourage other rogue states to pursue a similar path.
Both Jong-il and Jong Un have previously been able to rely on the fact they were dealing with conventional career politicians in the White House, like Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama.
Those US presidents were all terrified of triggering a planet-threatening war and thus did nothing to properly confront the growing menace of a fully-nuked North Korea.
Trump is a different animal.
Former US president Bill Clinton is pictured meeting North Korea’s Kim Jong Il in 2009
He doesn’t care for the niceties of Washington diplomacy and from his business life he knows a gigantic bullsh*tter like Jong Un when he sees one.
THIS President prefers wielding a big stick, and reminding everyone that America has by far the biggest stick to wield.
When Jong Un said his nuclear button was on his desk at all times, Trump immediately hit back with this infamous retort: ‘Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a nuclear button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my button works!’
He was mocked and derided for this super-charged form of international willy-waving, but now he’s had the last laugh.
I suspect Kim Jong Un’s been quietly growing increasingly concerned that in President Trump, he is now dealing with someone as unpredictable as him, but with a far superior military arsenal that he might actually unleash.
North Korea’s state media may have recently labelled Trump a ‘lunatic mean old trickster and human reject’ but those are just words.
Former CIA chief and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said: ‘I think this is a positive step’
Actions always speak louder, and Jong Un’s agreement to meet with the US President is a hugely significant climbdown, whatever gloss he tries to put on it.
For President Trump, it represents a coup that might prove to be as ground-breaking, daring and meaningful as Richard Nixon’s controversial courting of Mao Zedong’s China in the early ’70s.
Trump’s book Art of the Deal gives a guide to his negotiating skills.
‘My style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward,’ he wrote, ‘I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after.’
With North Korea, he has displayed that philosophy to dramatic effect.
He aimed as high as anyone could possibly aim, openly threatening to vaporise Kim Jong Un into a cloud of nuclear dust.
And Jong Un appears to have believed he really might go through with it.
As a result, there’s a proper chance of North Korea dismantling rather than accelerating its nuclear program.
People look a TV screen showing Mr Trump and Kim at Seoul train station in South Korea today
For a long time, it has demanded the right for its leaders to meet face-to-face with the President of the United States as equals – one nuclear power to another.
Now, it will get that opportunity.
Though it would do well to heed last night’s advice from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham: ‘A word of warning to North Korean President Kim Jong Un,’ he said, ‘the very worst possible thing you can do is meet with President Trump in person and try to play him. If you do that, it will be the end of you – and your regime.’
Jong Un has probably reached the same conclusion.
‘Hopefully you will give me credit,’ a reportedly ecstatic Trump told ABC News journalist Jon Karl yesterday.
Don’t hold your breath for that, Mr President.
The US mainstream media is already working overtime to accentuate the negative rather than positive from this announcement, such is their collective ratings-boosting hostility towards Trump.
But the truth is he deserves a LOT of credit.
And even some of his biggest political critics are ready to give it to him.
‘I think this is a positive step,’ said former CIA chief and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. ‘I think the world is breathing a sigh of relief.’
Yes, it is.