U.S. President Donald Trump will not be cowed into silence — or at least, that’s the message he sent during an interview on Fox News Channel’s Hannity which aired at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
“I think without the rhetoric we wouldn’t have been here,” Trump told conservative icon Sean Hannity following his historic denuclearization summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Trump went on to critique the “policy of silence” showed by previous presidential administrations who refused to engage with the hostile North Korean regime.
Less carrot, more stick
Using harsh language to compel the unpredictable North Korean dictator to meet at the negotiating table and denuclearize his growing arsenal was a deliberate strategy from the White House, despite news reports that attempted to frame Trump’s remarks as the temperamental ramblings of a bombastic tyrant. As the liberal media questioned Trump’s promise to use force against Pyongyang, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that the “tone and strength of the message” was part of a larger strategy to negotiate with Kim.
“General [John] Kelly and others on the [National Security Council] team were well aware of the tone of the president’s statement before it was delivered,” Sanders told reporters following one of Trump’s qualified threats.
Responding to questions from Hannity, Trump credited this strategy for his success in forcing Kim to sit down and reach a diplomatic solution. The president said:
I think without the rhetoric we wouldn’t have been here. I really believe that. We did sanctions and all of the things that you would do. Other administrations…had a policy of silence. If [North Korea] said something very bad, very threatening and horrible, just don’t answer. That’s not the answer. That’s not what you have to do.
Trump, who has been referred to as a master negotiator and who authored a famous treatise on deal-making, added that he wasn’t always comfortable playing the part of the tough-talking commander-in-chief.
“So I think the rhetoric — I hated to do it,” he admitted. “Sometimes I felt foolish doing it. But we had no choice.”
Even Trump’s most ardently loyal supporters couldn’t have predicted the successful turnaround of U.S.-North Korean relations over the last year. As tensions escalated with the rogue communist regime, so, too, did Trump’s militant tone.
Less than a month after learning that North Korea had developed the capability to target U.S. cities on the eastern seaboard with missiles, and just hours after discovering that they could successfully nuclearize those missiles, Trump warned:
North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire, fury, and, frankly, power the likes of which this world has never seen before.
Naturally, the mainstream media produced apocalyptic reports promising that Trump’s out-of-control oration would precipitate a nuclear war. The president’s political rivals insisted that he was leading America down a cataclysmic path by employing such short-sighted rhetoric.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) doubted the wisdom of Trump’s strategy, arguing, “We need to be firm and deliberate with North Korea, but reckless rhetoric is not a strategy to keep America safe.” And ailing Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) echoed Schumer’s position, stating that he took “exception to the President’s comments because you’ve gotta be sure you can do what you say you can do.”
After North Korea agreed to the Singapore Summit and even began deconstructing one of their nuclear testing sites, critics remained. But the final indication that Trump’s strategy was working came when the president cancelled the planned summit in response to continued insults from Pyongyang, indicating that he was willing to scrap everything at a moment’s notice in the absence of complete cooperation.
The diplomatic maneuver worked, guaranteeing the regime’s silence weeks ahead of the meeting. And on Tuesday, Trump saw nothing but success in the actual meeting, where he secured a deal with North Korea that included denuclearization of the entire Korean peninsula.
Earlier today, lawyers in Norway nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize. Based on his success with North Korea, he definitely deserves it.