California Representative and Donald Trump nemesis Adam Schiff was on This Week and the subject of developments in North Korea came up.
“I think it’s more than fair to say that the combination of the president’s unpredictability and bellicosity had something to do with the North Koreans deciding to come to the table,” Schiff told ABC’s Jonathan Karl on “This Week.”
“But before the president takes too much credit or hangs out the mission accomplished banner, he needs to realize we may go into a confrontational phase and he may not want the full blame if things go south, so you have to be a little circumspect about that,” he continued.
“The most important for this president is that when things do become confrontational as is likely to happen, it’s going to be very important that we are lashed up with our allies, South Korea and Japan, otherwise North Korea will pick us apart, and this president isn’t particularly good about lashing up with our allies,” he said.
Schiff also said he was optimistic about the opportunity for Washington to work with Pyongyang.
“There’s more than a ray of light here. Let’s just hope that we can maximize the chance for success there,” he said.
That is a shocking admission from Schiff but, I think, a truthful one. The one thing notable about this round of negotiations that separates it from the past, this time there was an engaged president who was actually interested in reining in North Korea. North Korea was unable to play beneath the radar and deal with the stripey-pants sets who were worried about protocol and hurting feelings. Instead, the full pressure of US diplomacy and coercion were applied.
I’d agree with Schiff that the “bellicosity” made a difference. Where I’d disagree is on the “unpredictability.” I think Trump’s hints that he was ready to entertain war before allowing the North Koreans the ability to strike the continental United States coupled with military deployments, a full-court press at the UN, and cranking up enforcement of existing economic sanctions all combined to convince Kim that war was a very real possibility and that Trump wasn’t overly concerned about collateral damage in South Korea (0 electoral votes, if you are counting).
I’ve been critical of Trump foreign policy missteps in past year: TPP, Paris, too many unnecessary missteps with allies to count.
But today’s historic North/South Korea breakthrough does not happen without priority & pressure from US President.
Trump deserves full credit.
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) April 27, 2018
The bottom line is that something happened here that hasn’t happened before. And the major change in the equation is Trump. You don’t have to like or admire the guy to be smart enough to realize that. And when Adam Schiff says it, you really should pay attention.