A forthcoming tell-all book by former US National Security Advisor John Bolton makes a case that Kim Jong Un and his sister and current stand-in Kim Yo Jong are right to dismiss US diplomatic outreach to North Korea as insincere, a preview by the Washington Post suggests.
“When Bolton recounts the Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore, the first summit of U.S. and North Korean leaders in history, Bolton castigates Trump’s diplomatic efforts, saying the president cared little for the details of the denuclearization effort and saw it merely as a ‘an exercise in publicity,’” the Post article says.
“He describes it extensively — including what Kim and his advisers say, and what Trump and his advisers say in return, giving a fly-on-the-wall account of a historic event.
‘’Trump told … me he was prepared to sign a substance-free communique, have his press conference to declare victory and then get out of town,’ Bolton wrote.
“Determined to make friends with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump decided that he wanted to give Kim some American gifts — gifts that violated U.S. sanctions that eventually had to be waived, per Bolton’s book.
“In the months following the summit, Bolton described Trump’s inordinate interest in Pompeo delivering an autographed copy of Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’ on CD to Kim during Pompeo’s follow-on visit to North Korea. Trump had used the term ‘Little Rocket Man’ to criticize the North Korean leader but subsequently tried to convince Kim that it was a term of affection.
“’Trump didn’t seem to realize Pompeo hadn’t actually seen Kim Jong Un [during the trip], asking if Pompeo had handed’ the CD, wrote Bolton. ‘Pompeo had not. Getting this CD to Kim remained a high priority for several months.’”
This week the Pyongyang regime has signaled that it’s had enough of results-free diplomacy with the United States and South Korea. In a fit of pique on Tuesday the North blew up a North-South liaison office that had been built in the diplomatically hopeful year of 2018.
North Korea for its part had been criticized for failing to show its own goodwill by actually moving to dismantle its nuclear weapons program and capabilities.
The Post summary of Bolton’s book, although it talks about Singapore, does not mention the subsequent 2019 Hanoi summit, where, critics allege, it was Bolton’s influence on Trump that kept the president from offering anything of substance to Kim.
The New York Times in its own account of the book on Wednesday noted that “Mr. Bolton thought Mr. Trump’s diplomatic flirtation with the likes of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia were ill advised and even ‘foolish’ and spent much of his tenure trying to stop the president from making what he deemed bad deals.
“He eventually resigned last September — Mr. Trump claimed he fired him — after they clashed over Iran, North Korea, Ukraine and a peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan.”
‘Pompeo disparaged Trump’
Bolton’s book focuses to an interesting extent on outing Pompeo, the secretary of state, as a secret critic of his boss. Pompeo has high political ambitions himself, extending to a future White House run.
See, for example, this passage from the New York Times story: “During the president’s 2018 meeting with North Korea’s leader, according to the book, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slipped Mr. Bolton a note disparaging the president, saying, ‘He is so full of shit.’
“A month later, Mr. Bolton writes, Mr. Pompeo dismissed the president’s North Korea diplomacy, declaring that there was ‘zero probability of success.’”
The Post account says Bolton tells in the book how Pompeo exhibited skepticism about the president when, during a 2018 visit to the Middle East, he listened in on a call between Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has led the cheering for diplomatic outreach to the North.
The book says Pompeo told Bolton he was “having a cardiac arrest in Saudi Arabia,” according to the Post account.