Friday 20 September 2019

Trump is in line for Nobel Peace Prize as Korea tactics pay off

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi yesterday. Photo: Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Rachael Alexander

Donald Trump has been formally nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for the US president's efforts to solve the North Korean nuclear tensions.

A group of 18 of Mr Trump's biggest Republican supporters in the House of Representatives sent a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee urging it to consider Mr Trump for next year's award in recognition of "his tireless work to bring peace to our world".

Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are working out the details of a historic summit that could take place by the end of May or early June.

Yet an agreement by which the North would give up its nuclear weapons and allow for the world to confirm it still appears far off. The United States has reached aid-for-disarmament deals with North Korea before which ultimately failed.

Recent comments from the leaders of the two Koreas have raised hopes.

But as remarkable as the imagery and symbolism have been recently, many analysts point out that it is too early to speculate on the outcome of ongoing negotiations with a regime that has been led with an iron fist by the Kim dynasty for nearly 70 years.

"It's surreal in the sense that it's clearly premature to be talking about giving anybody a Nobel Peace Prize," said Aaron David Miller, a former US diplomat and negotiator in several Democratic and Republican administrations.

But "if in fact the diplomacy goes the right way," the scenario is "conceivable", he said.

The Nobel chatter also reflects an impassioned debate taking place over the exact role of America's president in the ongoing diplomatic overtures.

On both sides of the US political divide, the reasoning has bordered on the absurd, with one camp asserting that Mr Trump played no part in the ongoing détente on the Korean peninsula, while the other attributes it solely to his intervention.

In Washington's fevered political climate - in which "it's virtually impossible for one party to give credit to the other" - Mr Trump's personality and "inability to think about the 'we' rather than just the 'me'" is further reinforcing the antagonism, Mr Miller said.

The award of the prize to Mr Trump's Democratic predecessor, just a few months after he took office, had itself aroused surprise and strong reactions. "I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labours on the world stage," Barack Obama said on December 10, 2009 in Oslo, as he acknowledged "the considerable controversy" surrounding the committee's decision at the dawn of his first term.

Beyond Mr Obama, three other US presidents have received the award: Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter.

Anticipating the Trump-Kim summit, and the protracted diplomatic negotiations that lie ahead, some have opted for a humorous approach.

'Washington Post' columnist Dana Milbank penned a spoof acceptance speech by Mr Trump, complete with the leader's trademark verbal tics.

"The haters and the liars say I don't deserve this award.... Wrong!" said Milbank's Trump.

"I was, like, really smart, when I made peace with Rocket Man. By calling him short and fat and saying I would totally destroy him with fire and fury from my big and powerful nuclear button, I got him to negotiate."

For Mr Trump's fervent supporters, the looming summit with Kim - all but unimaginable just months ago - is proof that his often-impulsive presidency can break through barriers, change the rules of the diplomatic game, and succeed where his predecessors have failed.

Irish Independent

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