Should the Media Give Trump Credit for Korea?

The United States appears to be making great strides with North Korea between the country’s release of three American detainees, recent announcement to dismantle its nuclear program, and upcoming June 12 summit to work out the details.

The possibility of peace with North Korea is incredible, especially considering North Korea’s recent nuclear developments and the country’s icy relationship with South Korea. 

With the upcoming summit in the back of everyone’s minds, politicians and the media have been going back and forth over who deserves credit, and domestic political elites are quick to praise President Trump.  

After all, President Trump ran his campaign as the great negotiator, and any kind of dialogue in what seemed like a completely futile situation can be capitalized on as a political victory.

President Trump was quick to publicly credit himself for success.

“[North and South Korea] just had a very good meeting, and they gave us tremendous credit,” said President Trump at a Michigan rally April 28.

South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told CNN that “credit clearly goes to Trump.”

She noted that his determination to solve the issue and willingness to collaborate with South Korean President Moon Jae-in created the climate needed for potential denuclearization.

Moon Jae-in noted that President Trump “deserves the Nobel Peace Prize” for his efforts brokering a deal between the two Koreas.

Shockingly, media pundit opinion for the most part has not split on partisan lines. Whether or not people have attributed success to President Trump depended on how they viewed the U.S.’s and Moon Jae-in’s role in the conflict.

CNN Reporter Stephen Collinson agreed and claimed President Trump is entitled to credit. He continued to describe the upcoming summit as a “legacy win for Trump that would rank as one of the top presidential achievements since World War II.”

In his analysis, Collinson explored reasons behind President Trump’s success and commented that his supporters “believe that his fierce rhetoric last year”- his call for “fire and fury” on North Korea- is “responsible for unblocking the diplomatic deadlock.”

Other influential media institutions believe President Trump’s hawkish tendencies reeled Kim Jong-un in line.

“Trump faced up to the threat in a way his predecessors in office did not: He made it clear to Kim that there is a genuine red line that cannot be crossed,” wrote The Chicago Tribune’s Editorial Board in a piece giving President Trump credit for the developments.

Others are more skeptical, praising Moon Jae-in and regional powers more than the U.S.

“Moon can’t be eclipsed so easily,” wrote Foreign Policy’s Emily Tamkin and Dan De Luce, emphasizing Moon Jae -in’s importance in Roh Moo-hyun’s Chief of Staff.

“Moon’s outreach to North Korea, unlike Trump’s, wasn’t an off-the-cuff response.”

“Trump legitimately, if potentially briefly, gets to enjoy this anticipated breakthrough as a seminal event in his administration,” wrote The Washington Post’s Kathleen Parker, implying that these peace breakthroughs are not enough to warrant excessive praise. “If Kim really does want to join the civilized world, boost his economy, feed his people and make nice with his neighbors — and if Trump succeeds in effectively securing peace in the region — then he will deserve one of the biggest nonmilitary parades any century has ever seen.”

Despite these breakthroughs, some respectable thinkers remain skeptical of the regime altogether.

Referencing prior diplomacy with Iran and Libya, Anthony Ruggiero, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, urged the U.S. to be cautious and prepared for Kim Jong-un to undercut the U.S.’s relationship with South Korea.

Whether or not President Trump should be given credit for the recent diplomatic achievements, it will be interesting to see how media coverage frames the actual summit or other controversial foreign policy moves like the Iran Deal.

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