North Korea Summit: ‘Less Than Meets the Eye,’ Says Expert

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EVANSTON, Ill. --- With just hours before President Trump sits down with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un for a historic summit in Singapore tonight (June 11), one Northwestern University expert says don’t expect too much -- because it’s hard to find either side credible in their promises.

Ian Hurd is an associate professor of political science in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University. Author of the recent book “How to Do Things With International Law” (Princeton University Press), Hurd’s work focuses on public international law, the theory and practice of international organizations and international relations theory. He has published on organization theory and international institutions, the politics of legitimacy at the United Nations, U.N. reform, labor standards and the International Criminal Court. He can be reached at or on his cell phone at 847-769-7114.

Quote from Professor Hurd:

“My take on this meeting is this: There is less to this summit than meets the eye -- much less. Neither side has any credibility in upholding its commitments. Both are leaders with serious legitimacy deficits at home, and who seek the validation of a strong photo to get them through the day. Each sees in the other a chance to gain some legitimacy -- but no one believes they can hold meaningful discussions of any substance together.

“The danger for the U.S. is that Trump may give away the store and then claim success. Instead of Dennis Rodman and John Bolton, the U.S. would be better served with advisors who know something about Korean history, politics and society -- and about North Korea’s long-standing desire for legitimation from outside sources.

“Kim wants international legitimacy and an assurance that the outside world is not seeking to overthrow his regime. Trump wants a platform where he looks strong. The two are not adversaries -- they are kindred spirits. Trump has shown that he can’t even have tea with the Canadians without making a mess of things. The North Koreans sense his weakness and will no doubt be careful to cultivate Trump’s fragile ego in order to induce him into making commitments that other U.S. presidents have resisted for decades.”

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