Dear Mr. Ambassador:
A number of articles have recently been written about what a tough job you have and that if you fail, the result could be nuclear war. We at 38 North, some of whom have worked on policy towards North Korea both inside and outside the US government over the past 25 years, want to wish you good luck. Dealing with the North Koreans will be hard enough but working inside the Trump administration, with Congress and the community of Korea experts in the US will be just as if not more challenging.
We don’t want to wade into the challenges of working for the Trump administration that manifest themselves every day on a variety of domestic and foreign policy challenges. All we can say is, like what Morton Halperin (who more than qualifies as someone with extensive national security experience) expressed in a recent article on our site, having President Trump in your corner in this lone case will be an enormous advantage, not an enormous downside. True, he is quirky, impatient and often impetuous—and the North Koreans will seek to use that to their advantage—but it is the difference between night and day when you are working on a tough challenge like North Korea. Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, the Obama administration’s Special Envoy for North Korea Policy and one of America’s foremost diplomats of the post-Cold War era, to his lasting regret, never got the chance to make his case to the President for what he thought would be an effective policy towards Pyongyang. It doesn’t sound like you will have that problem and that is extremely important.
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