Only time will tell us whether the meeting between Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump was a success for those of us living in Australia.
Most of us want to see fewer nuclear weapons in the world and in our region and, if their number can’t be reduced, less of a threat that those missiles will be used.
Australia isn’t high on the list of countries that North Korea might target with nuclear weapons, but the presence of US bases at Pine Gap and the North West Cape that can be used to target US missiles means that Australia isn’t completely in the clear.
It is a low risk and doubts remain as to whether North Korea has missiles that would reliably reach Australia (though northern Australia is likely to be in range).
Donald Trump has gambled with his meeting in North Korea. He gave Kim Jong-Un an opportunity to make himself into something more than a vicious dictator in a minor country and appear as a significant, if not major, player on the world stage.
Trump also seems to have offered the withdrawal of US troops from South Korea and the end of joint military exercise involving US and South Korean troops. He will probably have to provide aid to the North Korean regime, which invests in its military and provides for its elites at the expense of everyone else.
In return, Trump wants North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and nuclear and missile programs and for its leadership to become more moderate, even reasonable, in their dealings with western countries, especially the US. This would neutralize one of the world’s most extreme anti-Western regimes and remove one of the sources of tension in our region.
This isn’t a situation that would have happened under Hilary Clinton, whose foreign policy rhetoric was generally more consistently aggressive than Donald Trump’s.
She’d never have entered into this negotiation and played the game that Donald Trump has. This is despite the fact that there isn’t that much to lose here.
Slipping back into viewing North Korea as a country ruled by a dictator with access to nuclear weapons and missiles that might be capable to sending them our way won’t be hard.