For reasons that are difficult to understand from a distance, Donald Trump has extraordinary confidence in his presidential abilities. As a candidate, the Republican assured voters, “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”
Two years later, the Washington Post reported that Trump didn’t care about the dearth of qualified staff around him, “because he considers himself to be his own diplomat, negotiator and strategist.”
In the wake of his failed summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, the American president is apparently taking this posture to new levels. Time magazine reported overnight that Trump has taken “increased control” of negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, which has meant “sidelining his own top negotiator.”
In recent days, Trump shut down an effort by Stephen Biegun, nominally the Administration’s lead negotiator with Pyongyang, to reestablish a back channel through the North’s United Nations mission in New York, according to four U.S. and South Korean officials.
At the same time, Trump continues to dismiss the conclusions of the CIA, State and Defense Departments and other agencies that North Korea will not abandon its nuclear weapons program, continuing to insist that he and Kim can negotiate a deal, according to two U.S. officials.
An unnamed U.S. official told Time that Trump’s “constant refrain” is that the North Korean dictator is his “friend,” which as far as the American president is concerned, creates an opportunity for a diplomatic breakthrough – even if he’s the only one who sees it.
The article added, “Trump’s insistence on serving as his own lead negotiator, concentrating decision making at the White House, has rattled not only U.S. officials outside the White House, but also their counterparts in South Korea and Japan, all the officials said.”
That’s an understandable concern. The United States’ first amateur president, who knows effectively nothing about nuclear weapons programs and/or international diplomacy, has convinced himself that his entire team is simply getting in the way of a deal with North Korea.
Kim, who has sent Trump flowery love letters that the Republican has reportedly carried around with him, will give the White House what it wants, the American president believes, because of the strength of their personal chemistry.
What could possibly go wrong?