Old Video Surfaces, Shows Trump Was Prepping for NK Nearly 20 Years Ago


Now that the summit in Singapore is over and President Donald Trump is on the way back home, one can cue the start of another round of talking-head chatter about his preparedness. This was one of the media’s favorite subjects going into the Tuesday meeting: Did Donald Trump do his homework? Was he really prepared?

This seemed somewhat silly, as if Trump was supposed to be reading a huge binder marked “North Korea” under a desk lamp in the wee hours of the morning like it was an SAT study guide, cramming for his meeting with Kim Jong Un. The vast majority of this was outsourced to aides and foreign policy experts, the way it’s always been under almost any administration.

Rest assured, however, that Trump’s actually been preparing for this for decades — ever since North Korea’s nuclear ambitions became apparent, in fact. That’s borne out by video that’s been popping up on social media these past few days, seemingly as a rejoinder to the preparedness issue.

Take a look, for instance, at this “Meet the Press” appearance from 1999, in which Trump outlined his thoughts on Pyongyang’s nuclear plans:

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Speaking about North Korea, Trump said that “these people in three or four years, they’re going to have nuclear weapons, they’re going to have those weapons pointed all over world and specifically at the United States.”

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“The biggest problem this world has is nuclear proliferation,” he continued. “We have a country out there in North Korea which is sort of wacko, which is not a bunch of dummies. They are going out and developing nuclear weapons. And they’re not doing it because they’re having fun doing it. And wouldn’t it be good to sit down and really negotiate something — and ideally negotiate? Now, if that negotiation doesn’t work, you’d better solve the problem now than solve it later.”

Trump also criticized former President Jimmy Carter’s efforts in North Korea at the time, and shot back at then-“Meet the Press” host Tim Russert’s contention that the fallout from using military force against the North would engulf Southeast Asia in fallout, contending that a strike would be better than a nuclear North Korea. However, first and foremost, he would negotiate.

Also in 1999, Trump sat down for an interview with Wolf Blitzer on a wide range of issues (this, for those of you who weren’t around then or may have forgotten, was when he was considering a presidential run with Ross Perot’s Reform Party before it slipped into squabbling and terminal doom).

They also discussed North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, with Trump saying that  “(w)e’d better do something rather quickly with them, and, hopefully, through negotiations.”

Blitzer asked what would happen “if the North Koreans don’t play ball, develop a nuclear capability, go forward with their missile development — does the United States act unilaterally?”

“If spoken to correctly — correctly — they will play ball,” Trump predicted.

This interview, mind you, was less than a year before then President Bill Clinton decided that trying to broker a peace deal with the North Koreans should take a backseat to Middle East peace negotiations. That was a gambit that proved to be fruitless in the end and didn’t provide Clinton with the signature peace plan he wanted.

“I had a chance at the end of my presidency — I kind of regret this now, but I would do the same thing again [if] faced with it — to end their missile program, but I would have had to go to North Korea,” Clinton said in a recent “Today” interview.

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“But I couldn’t do that and finish the Middle East peace,” he told interviewer Craig Melvin. “And Arafat begged me not to go and then backed out on his promise.”

Melvin didn’t ask a follow-up question about Clinton’s preparedness, for whatever reason. And nobody seems to have asked the same questions about Kim Jong Un, as “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams noted:

After all, Kim may have readThe Art of the Deal,” but he certainly didn’t write it.

Perhaps, as Adams says, we ought to look at the other side of the table in this equation.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture