For the first time in history, America walked away from a bad deal with North Korea.
President Trump’s second summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un ended early without a signed agreement, and while a signed peace agreement will have to wait for another day, the president unquestionably made the right decision.
In his post-summit press conference, President Trump explained that Kim wanted the U.S. to remove international sanctions in exchange for only partial denuclearization — a complete non-starter that the president wisely rejected.
Unlike past presidents, who have given the Kim regime billions of dollars worth of aid in exchange for empty promises that North Korea quickly reneged on, President Trump has engaged a different strategy and is sticking with it.
Even President Trump’s liberal critics agree that President Trump made the right move in Hanoi.
"I would say at least for me personally, that seems like the best of all circumstances where the president continues to communicate with a country that we were close to war with a year ago, that most foreign policy experts gave us a 50/50 chance of having a land war in the Korean peninsula a year ago," Joe Scarborough said on "Morning Joe" just hours after the summit ended.
The president "talked but didn't give away anything," he added, noting that this was "the great fear, especially after the Cohen testimony yesterday."
"Joe, I agree with you," said Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, a critic of the president’s foreign policy. "I think as President Trump said, sometimes you have to walk."
They’re quite right, and that’s exactly what sets this president apart from his predecessors. No establishment politician would have walked away from the negotiating table while facing the sort of domestic political pressure that the Democrats created with the absurd Michael Cohen hearing conducted in the midst of the Hanoi summit, as many media outlets tacitly acknowledged by predicting that the president would accept a bad deal in order to claim a victory.
Instead, President Trump once again defied political convention by placing America’s interests first.
The deal proposed by Kim would have given the dictator significant leverage in future negotiations, making it nearly impossible for the U.S. to achieve the ultimate goal of a denuclearized North Korea.
In fact, President Trump’s tough negotiating style not only allowed him to avoid making any unwarranted concessions, it may also have strengthened his hand when it comes to another vital effort: negotiating a new trade deal with China.
“I think this is a moment of reassessment for China,” Southeast Asia expert Gordon Chang told Fox News, arguing that the president’s refusal to cave to Kim puts added pressure on Chinese President Xi Jinping as the two countries pursue bilateral trade negotiations.
The Chinese economy is already faltering under the weight of the targeted counter-tariffs that President Trump imposed in response to China’s illegal trade practices, and the outcome of the Hanoi summit shows Xi that he shouldn’t expect any unilateral concessions from America, either.
President Trump’s decision to withdraw from talks with North Korea is just the latest example of the diplomatic acumen he has displayed since taking office. America still has the advantage, North Korean missiles still aren’t flying through the air, and crushing sanctions are still in place. And, as always, Donald Trump is still ready and willing to negotiate if Kim comes up with a more reasonable proposition.