Who “Won” The North Korea Summit Is A Lot More Complicated Than You Think

Senior Policy Director Alexandra Bell spoke with Bustle about “winning” a nuclear negotiations summit.

“The North Koreans didn’t really have to give us anything, and we gave them something that was really important to them, which was equal footing on a global stage,” she says, noting that promises to freeze the country’s missile and nuclear testing programs had been obtained by the U.S. before. While the North Koreans received praise last month for returning American hostages, Bell points out that they’re guilty of taking them in the first place — and “they have repeatedly used that tactic so that they can use it as a bargaining chip later.”

“I’m worried that the president is setting himself up for disappointment in terms of how slowly this process will move,” Bell says. “I worry about the president’s patience and his tolerance at the way these things tend to drag on and at times even get derailed.”

Bell thinks Pompeo deserves credit for keeping the talks on track, even after Bolton ruffled North Korea by advocating for the “Libyan model” of denuclearization, which resulted in the ouster of that country’s leader. The talks also went on despite Trump canceling and then reinstating them with just weeks to go.

“He deserves credit for that,” Bell says. “But… he is a person who has a relatively thin background in terms of diplomacy and more specifically, on nuclear policy. It’s only going to work if he empowers the technical experts at the Departments of State, Energy, and Defense. They’re the ones who are going to help deliver a deal.”

It’s unlikely the International Olympic Committee could have predicted the historic summit when they chose Pyeongchang as the host city for the 2018 winter Olympics in 2011. But Moon seized the opportunity presented to him as leader of the host nation, (“at great political risk to himself,” Bell notes), and achieved results Tuesday.

“Had the Olympics not happened this year, would we have had this opening?” Bell says. “I don’t know.” Read more