US Tones Down Rhetoric, Actions Ahead of North Korea Summit

Trump says Kim has been 'open' and 'honorable' during talks

While he struggles with an increasingly hostile mainstream media, President Trump and the rest of the administration have been facilitating an upcoming summit with North Korea by dialing back hostility in both rhetoric and actions. This is setting a decidedly different tone.

The ongoing spring US wargames in South Korea are substantially less aggressive than previous years. They also got a late start because of the Winter Olympics, and instead of extending the games later to compensate, they’re making them shorter.

President Trump is also a lot more complementary of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un than last year. On Tuesday, Trump said Kim had been “very honorable” and “open” in talks with the US on the summit planning.

Mainstream Western media outlets, however, have very publicly soured on the talks. As the US, North Korea, and South Korea all make confidence-building moves, reporters scramble to find anyone they can predicting failure. They have further heavily focused on past diplomatic failures in an attempt to shape the expectations  of summits to come.

Beyond that, President Trump has been criticized for making concessions to North Korea ahead of the talks. Trump has pointed out he hasn’t actually conceded anything to North Korea yet.

Much of the media is viewing Trump’s willingness to talk with North Korea at all as a concession. This is unsurprising since previous administrations have refused to talk on the grounds North Korea “doesn’t deserve” to talk to them. With North Korea making so many overtures, however, Trump appeared to feel he couldn’t just ignore such offers any longer.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.