The North Korean Summit

I haven’t followed the summit closely (for example, I didn’t know that it would be completed today), but some recent chatter about it did catch my attention.  The first is that President Trump did not prepare much for this negotiation.  As negotiation professors, we preach the importance of preparation for a number of reasons, mostly as a means of developing strategies and contingency plans to keep from making basic negotiation errors.  Secondly, Trump said that he would know within one minute of meeting with Kim Jung-Un whether they would be able to reach a deal.  Winging it in these ways, a big negotiation no-no in any of our classes.

On top of this, Trump’s performance at the G7 conference required that he show the world what a good negotiator he is.  Thus, I worry about the deal he made, although he will tout as the big win that no other President could pull off.  The problem is that we will never truly know what that deal is – apparently the meeting was just the two leaders, and Trump did not take notes.  So, we can only rely on Trump to tell us whether North Korea complies with the agreement or not.  The joint statement released by the White House does give us some solace, but my point is supported by a quote in today’s New York Times

“Honestly, I think he’s going to do these things. I may be wrong, I mean I may stand before you in six months and say, hey, I was wrong — I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse.”

Maybe this is a Nixon goes to China moment.  That would be nice, but consider me skeptical.


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