Can a policy that is predicated on “peace talks” with the enemy have a chance of succeeding? The answer is surprisingly – maybe. It was considered absurd to negotiate some kind of treaty with the Soviet Union when Richard Nixon surprised the country with his idea of going to meet with Moscow to work on arms control. It was a radical idea in the 70’s that was largely rejected by members to the right and left of Nixon. However, it seems to have been a very vital step in the path of calming the arms race between the two superpowers. Is PResident Trump’s idea of meeting with the North Korean dictator and meeting with Vladimir Putin perhaps a good idea?
A Look Back at History
When meeting with dictators, one needs to understand very clearly who exactly they are meeting with. Vladimir Putin may not be a Democrat, but he is no Kim Jong Un. If Kim Jong Un makes a positive impression on President Trump and the President allows himself to be out-negotiated by a young dictator, then it probably will prove counterproductive to meet.
This was the case a few times during the latter stages of World War II and right after the end. FDR and Harry Truman were probably out-negotiated by Stalin because they simply did not realize just how ruthless Stalin was. They found him to be stubborn, but they thought that this was a person they could use persuasion and reason with. In truth, the only thing he understood was force. Winston Churchill probably understood this more clearly. But the dominance of the United States meant that his opinion was somewhat overlooked. A major opportunity to reign in the Soviet Union’s imperialism was missed and the Iron Curtain descended over a major part of Europe.
If President Trump is under no illusions about the dictators he chooses to meet, then he may be on to an interesting development. If he is just shooting from the hip, then more bad will come from his negotiations then good.