September 23, 2020

Communication breakdown: the White House needs to get its story straight

Trump’s defenders tout his unpredictability as an asset, but to date it has yielded very little

Since President Trump's decision to cancel the summit - a move he later appeared to reverse - we now have converging accounts about how that decision was made. Coming in the wake of a meeting that included the President, Vice President, Secretary of State Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, perhaps the most important factor was the apparent breakdown in communication between the two sides, an important sign that Pyongyang, as well as Washington, was resorting to tactical maneuver of getting cold feet.

But an important piece of evidence against the North Koreans was the KCNA press statement by Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui, and it is worth parsing what both she and Vice President Pence said, as the back and forth demonstrates clearly the problems the Trump administration is going to have staying on message.