WKU professor says Trump’s cancellation of summit no surprise

Today's cancellation of a U.S.-North Korea summit by U.S. President Donald Trump is no major surprise, according to Timothy Rich, associate professor of Political Science at WKU.

“Available evidence suggests he had high expectations but lacked preparation or an understanding of previous talks regarding North Korea's nuclear program,” Dr. Rich said.  “However, using recent comments from Pyongyang as a pretext to cancel relations just reinforces how unprepared the administration was for these talks.”

Dr. Rich, whose research interests include diverse topics in East Asian domestic and international politics, including North Korea politics, has published more than 40 peer-reviewed publications.

He said the statements came after National Security Administration Director John Bolton equated the need for North Korea to denuclearize to Libya giving up its program in exchange for easing economic sanctions. This was echoed by Vice President Mike Pence.

“However, to the North Korean regime, and anyone frankly with an understanding of North Korean politics, the lesson of Libya is one of regime change,” Dr. Rich said. “In other words, without a nuclear deterrent, North Korea fears the U.S. will encourage the overthrow of the regime.”

Ten years after the U.S.-Libya deal was reached, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and killed by Libyan rebels.

“Thus North Korea’s hostile rhetoric cannot be a surprise nor should the Trump administration be able to claim ignorance here,” Dr. Rich said. “Furthermore, as North Korea destroyed one of its nuclear sites just hours before Trump’s cancellation, the North Korean regime will certainly use this as a propaganda victory. They can claim they acted in good faith and the U.S. did not respond in kind. North Korea may also attempt to use this tension to drive a wedge between the U.S. and South Korea not unlike much of 2000s.”

Contact: Timothy Rich, (270) 745-2790

Posted with permission from WKU News