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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Aftermath of Trump-Kim break is an open landscape

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are seen May 13 in a newscast in Seoul, South Korea. Credit: AP / Ahn Young-joon

Everyone sane will hope for the best.

Either North Korea will broach demands for nuclear disarmament or it won’t.

Either China will keep up pressure on the Kim Jong Un regime or it won’t.

Either force will be used in some way or it won’t.

Either a deal will be reached or it won’t.

At some point, perhaps President Donald Trump will have something to show for all the drama.

As of now, his cancellation of the June 12 summit with Kim sets the pace for short-term speculation.

The president has taken every position known, to the point of contradiction. Kim’s behavior still sounds erratic.

Trump’s last secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, talked about negotiations. Trump said there was no point until “Rocket Man” changed his ways.

At some point, “Rocket man” became “very open” and “very honorable” in Trump’s book.

At another point Trump’s underlings talked about using Libya as a model, but Trump slapped them down in public.

By Friday the State Department under a new secretary, Mike Pompeo, was condemning the Kim regime as “one of the most repressive and abusive governments in the world.”

Which is not to say the administration is backtracking on its overall de-emphasis on human rights as a condition for dealings with other nations.

Premature bets on success with Kim haven’t quite turned to premature prophecies of doom.

After Thursday’s cancellation, the most stable governmental rhetoric came from South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

“Denuclearization and the lasting peace on the Korean peninsula cannot be abandoned or delayed . . .

“The sincerity of the affected parties who have been working to resolve the problem has not changed.

“It is hard to resolve sensitive and difficult diplomatic issues with the current way of communications. (We) hope that the leaders resolve problems through direct and close dialogue.”

If there’s any sense to the toggling between high praise and personal insults, perhaps it’s in the tradition of the marketplaces in some countries.

It’s a rote scene. A low offer is made for an item. The seller calls the negotiator and his entire ancestral line a pack of dogs. The offer changes. Mutual insults wax and wane and somehow a deal is struck.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark wrote after the cancellation:

“In any business deal — and this is one way to look at the once-scheduled meeting between the two heads of state — there is always jockeying to get the best deal.

“So, was this just two CEO’s trading mutual insults and insinuations to gain the upper hand? And could it be put back together, as the president hints in his letter to Kim?

“It might happen, but any summit meeting will still have to confront many difficult issues — and it is more likely that Kim has deliberately pulled the plug on the meeting in order to protect his equities and to set the stage for a later, possibly more successful meeting.”

Anything is possible, nothing is probable, and it’s likely to remain fluid indefinitely.

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