Donald Trump’s view of the art of the deal appears to be simple and sharply delineated:
- Be sudden
- Be surprising
- Be the (news) story
Nowhere on that list is the injunction and the rational argument: be successful.
As Mr Trump said on Saturday (March 10) at a rally in Moon Township, Pennsylvania: “Look, North Korea’s tough. … This should have been handled, by the way, over the last 30 years — not now. … This should have been handled, and everybody will say it, too. But that’s OK. Because that’s what we do: We handle things.”
So what happens now that Mr Trump, on the spur of the moment, summoned Chung Eui-yong, the South Korean envoy to the Oval Office and declared he was ready to meet North Korea’s Kim Jong Un?
No one knows? But everyone cares. Desperately.
The meeting, if it does actually happen, will be the first time that a US president will meet a leader of North Korea. The Korean war, remember, is still not formally over.
If Mr Trump meets Mr Kim and it ends badly, that will be the opportunity of the century thrown away.
If Mr Trump meets Mr Kim and it goes well, that will be peace for our time and for a long time.
Whatever happens Trump-Kim’s proposed meeting will be a hinge moment in history.
But for success, Mr Trump will have to get Mr Kim’s agreement to a deal that will be very like that with Iran, something that Mr Trump has lambasted and wants to tear up.
So what chance of success?
Low to none, is the way it feels right now.
It was just last month that Mr Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence, was ostentatiously refusing to greet Kim Yo-jong, Mr Kim’s sister, at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opening ceremony.
From that to a Trump-Kim lovefest is a leap of faith too far.
Or in Mr Trump’s words: “Who knows what’s going to happen? I may leave fast or we may sit down and make the greatest deal for the world.”