When Neville Chamberlain returned from the Munich Conference with Adolf Hitler in September 1938, he believed he had an answer to his primary question. “What does Mr. Hitler want?” was on the mind of the Prime Minister going into the meeting, and it colored all of the proceedings.
The perception was that Germany was wronged in the Versailles Treaty and that Hitler, as the leader, was simply acting in his own nation’s interest. Chamberlain completely neglected the growing body of evidence that Hitler was indeed a psychopath who had his own interests in mind and was simply using Germany as a tool.
Diplomacy is always complicated, but with such people it is even moreso. More than seeking the right answers, it often becomes critical to ask the right questions in the first place.
North Korea has agreed to de-nuclearize! Trump’s foreign policy is a success!
Headlines something like this have been circulating for a few weeks, but they contain more errors than words. North Korea hasn’t agreed to remove nuclear weapons at all, but appears ready to try to negotiate for some reason. Any concessions on their part almost certainly have little to do with the US and a lot more to do with their only benefactor, China.
And the world is a much more dangerous place to the extent that anyone believes that North Korea is somehow becoming more peaceful, especially when it comes to believing this is a result of anything to do with the US.
There’s no doubt that we live in a crazy world where just about anything can happen. If only that could be put to a good use.
Perhaps the most festering sore in this feverish world is North Korea. The population is isolated and starving, living in constant fear. That alone is reason enough to do something, but the recent increase in belligerence and danger posed by nuclear weapons makes it imperative that something be done. The Trump administration does have a point.
We can’t do much about it, however, as that would not go well. But China can. In fact, it’s as much in China’s interest that this problem be solved as anyone. So why not at least propose a deal to make it happen?