"Shields and Brooks on North Korea summit canceled, Trump’s attacks on Russia probe" PBS NewsHour 5/25/2018
SUMMARY: Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including President Trump calling off his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the outcome of Tuesday’s primaries for Democrats, and the effects of the President stirring controversy with claims of FBI spying on his campaign.
Judy Woodruff (NewsHour): Now back to the political news of this week with the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
Welcome to you both.
So, let’s talk first about this on-again/off-again summit with the North Korean leader.
David, it came about very quickly. It seemed to spring out of the President’s mind on his own. We didn’t — a lot of people were skeptical it was ever going to happen. It’s off again, but the President said today, maybe it’s not off.
What do you make of his diplomacy?
David Brooks, New York Times: When I went to buy my first car, somebody gave me advice. You have got to walk out. Walk out.
David Brooks: Walk out.
And I never — I’m not that kind of guy, so I didn’t walk out. But Donald Trump sort of walked out. And so he does everything in public. And he exerts pressure, he flatters, he threatens war. He does everything in public.
And so I sort of sympathize with the idea to see if there can be some breakthrough with North Korea. And I don’t blame him for going in and going out, trying to exert whatever pressure he can.
The problem is, it’s not real diplomacy. In real diplomacy, you have your sherpas, your lower-level people sort of build up some sense of agreements. You gather your allies. You don’t burn them with trade deals, the Chinese just South Koreans. You gather — and you exert real pressure.
But Donald Trump is a lone wolf, and so he’s doing it all on his own, basically, without allies, without too much help from the U.S. government, and it’s all by tweet and publicity.
And so I’m skeptical that you can get a real breakthrough without a full, stacked diplomatic and military effort, but — or at least sort of threats and pressure. But I don’t totally blame him for trying. Or, frankly, I don’t blame him for going in and out.
Anything that can dislodge something that’s stuck.
Judy Woodruff: How do you size this up?
Mark Shields, syndicated columnist: Well, Judy, it’s been 65 years since President Eisenhower on his promise to go to Korea negotiated a truce between North Korea and South Korea.
Since then, we have had 10 Presidents of both parties, five Democrats, five Republicans. With varying degrees of commitment and intensity, they have all tried to deal with resolving Korea. They have spent time. They have used learned professionals, wise academics, businessmen who know, and business persons who know the area.
And even after that, there are no major breakthroughs that’s happened. And Donald Trump, with no preparation, no knowledge, no background — I agree with David. I cheered the hope — and it was only a hope — that we might have a breakthrough.
But the idea that this was going to happen, and that somehow Kim Jong-un, who has gotten now global respect because he’s got nuclear arms, was just going to say, well, that’s it, thank you so much, you know, I think, was unrealistic.
Now, the fact that Secretary Mattis says that there’s a possibility that the summit will occur, that gives me pause. I mean, I give a lot more credence to what Secretary Mattis says than I do to the White House.
Judy Woodruff: The President clearly — or seems, David, to believe that unpredictability can pay off sometimes.
David Brooks: Well, sometimes, it can.
If we got a crazy person who is President, you may as well take advantage. But, as I say, why should they give up nuclear weapons? They have seen the Libya example and they saw what happened to Gadhafi.
The only — but at some point in history, and I don’t know if it will be in our lifetimes, they will say, we would rather have a middle-class lifestyle. We would rather have what they have in South Korea. I think, eventually, somebody is going to make that call. I don’t know if it will be this guy, or his son, or grandson, or whatever.
But, eventually, that’s going to happen. So, as long as we can keep knocking on the door, that seems fine. And as long as we don’t disrupt our allies in the area, which we seem to have terrified the South Koreans…
Mark Shields: And the Japanese.
David Brooks: And the Japanese — then the door should always be open, the pressure should always be on.
But sometimes you don’t just have any good solutions. And that’s why we have had 10 Presidents without much progress.
Mark Shields: Yes, that’s it.
This isn’t the city council in Atlantic City or the zoning commission, where you’re trying to get a deal for the casino and better parking or a large parking lot or to invoke eminent domain on your behalf.
This is really — really — significance. And it’s the difference between braggadocio and style and flash and substance. And if you look at everybody — I mean, John Kennedy, who was far more a student of foreign affairs than Donald Trump, at his first encounter with Khrushchev came away humbled, came away — and, in retrospect, contributed, historians and I think many in the Kennedy administration agree, to the emboldened Soviet Union in both Berlin and in Cuba.
So these don’t come without some cost and without some price and especially, as David pointed out, the rupture with our allies.