National Security

Putting Hard Parameters on the Summit in Vietnam is Unrealistic

Regardless of how much we may want to have things go precisely as planned, the realist knows that just never happens. In all their bluster, the Congress are taking turns making proclamations on how President Trump must conduct the summit negotiations and what he must achieve. There can be nothing else but a full immediate denuclearization or those opposing the president will point at the meeting as a failure.

Interestingly, that has never been the bar to meet before. Congress has never demanded precise results and dictated terms for a president when he is doing what presidents are supposed to do: conduct foreign policy. The politicians are using the summit as a measuring tape and, in their view, there is no way to win for the president.

They are using this opportunity to childishly signal their belief that President Trump is incapable of making this, or in the eyes of most of the oppositionists, any other achievements.

What they seem to forget and what the major news outlets (if you can still call them that) are neglecting to mention is this will be the second time in seventy years a sitting United States president has met with a leader of North Korea.  Before President Trump’s efforts to reach out to the hermit dictator, no president had ever made as much as a phone call to a North Korean government figurehead.

President Trump has not only started negotiations, levied sanctions on, and led the UN to increase sanctions on the North Korean government, but he has achieved some real progress on the road to denuclearization.

It has been under President Trump and his pressure on the North that has led to talks between North and South Korea, thereby facilitating resolution regarding the decades-long war that is officially still ongoing. It has been under President Trump that the North stopped testing missiles. Not that they could not start again; so far have not. That is progress nonetheless. It has been under President Trump, not Obama, not Bush (either of the two), or Clinton that the Hermit dictator and a U.S. president have ever met.

Now there is another summit taking place in Vietnam. It is a country that was once at war with the U.S. and is now a partner on economic and regional security issues. Vietnam presents the perfect place to express how what were once enemies can work together to achieve much that is beneficial for each country. The choice of the summit in Vietnam illustrates what could be in store for North Korea in the future.

When gauged against multiple U.S. presidents spanning 70 years, the results of the Trump administration is stunning. For politicians to place parameters and falsely define failure or success for political reasons (which is what is happening before the summit even takes place) is politics at its ugliest. They seem to be rooting for the summit to fail so that they can trumpet their stale and haggard “See? I told you so“ mantra.

That behavior is not in the best interest of the nation; it is akin to hoping the president and our country fail. It is difficult to witness such behavior. How does this serve our nation? It doesn’t!

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Jon Harris

Jon Harris is a former Army NCO, Sergeant Morales Club member, civilian law enforcement officer, and defense contractor with over 30 years in the law enforcement community. He is published in Army Trainer Magazine, authored regular columns in several newspapers, and is the author of the Cold War novel Breakpoint. His adventures as a security contractor in Afghanistan and Iraq can be found on He holds a B.S. in Government and Politics and an M.S. in Criminal Justice and is currently completing his Juris Doctor degree.

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