Officially and publicly, the only real “diplomacy” being countenanced by the Trump Administration on North Korea are the president’s daily Tweets vowing “fire and fury” and widespread devastation. It is in the context of these threats that the two countries have reached the brink of war.
Diplomacy isn’t really the administration’s strong suit in the best of times, and having publicly declared diplomacy a failure several times on North Korea, officials now fear that even the appearance of talking to North Korea will be interpreted as a sign of weakness.
That greatly hamstrings the State Department, whose job it would be to touch base diplomatically with North Korea during times like these, but who are ultimately forced to work entirely through back channels to avoid the embarrassing public appearance of reasonable diplomatic discourse.
In practice, this has forced State Department officials responsible to run North Korea diplomacy entirely out of New York City, where they at the very least have access to North Korea’s delegation to the United Nations.
Unsurprisingly, this limited and secretive style of negotiation hasn’t amounted to much, mostly boiling down to efforts to secure the release of American detainees and exchange pleasantries in between the very public threats by the higher ups to destroy North Korea and its people.
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