North Korea Summit A Big Win For Libertarians

Leaders Meeting President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, participate in their bilateral meeting at the Capella Hotel in Singapore, June 12, 2018. White House photo by Shealah Craighead

“You call it whatever you want, I want to tell you, they lied. They said there were Weapons of Mass Destruction, there were none, and they knew there were none. There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

When Donald Trump uttered these words during the South Carolina Republican Primary debate three years ago, chills went down my spine. The Republican frontrunner, who was becoming the clear favorite to win the Republican nomination, attacked Jeb Bush on his interventionism in the most traditionally hawkish state of the early primary season.

South Carolina had been a state which frustrated libertarians for a long time. This was due to its heavy military connections and hyper interventionist streak on foreign policy issues. It was the state that booed Ron Paul for suggesting that we invoke a golden rule in foreign policy. This was a state full of military contractors, military bases and veterans.

Because of this, many wondered whether then candidate Trump, who had become known as “Teflon Don” for his ability to remain unscathed after media attacks, was going to suffer at the voting booth as a result of his unabashedly anti Iraq war stance.

Ultimately, Trump not only won South Carolina by 10 points, he won the GOP nomination and the presidency.

This would serve as a foreshadowing event for unprecedented attempts at negotiation in places like Afghanistan and North Korea, announcement of a military withdrawal from Syria, and a state of the union peppered with phrases such as “Great nations do not fight endless wars”.

The libertarian moment within the Republican Party has arrived on the subject of foreign policy.

It is with this in mind that we turn to Vietnam, where President Trump and Chairman Kim of North Korea are set to have their second in a series of meetings on the subject of North Korean denuclearization.

In contrast to their harsh rhetoric towards each other at the beginning of the Trump presidency, both leaders have taken unprecedented steps towards healing relations between the two countries.

North Korean state media has stopped referring to the United States as their enemy, and they have agreed to work towards ending their longstanding conflict with South Korea. Chairman Kim has publicly committed to denuclearization, and has not done any nuclear missile testing since the agreement. He has purged opponents of his outreach to the United States from his administration. These actions all indicate an administration which is serious about this process. 

President Trump and Chairman Kim have been publicly complimentary towards each other, and all indications are that the summit has great potential to be highly productive for both nations.

If the President is able to achieve a lasting peace on the Korean peninsula, it will be a historical precedent in favor of non interventionism that libertarians can cite for decades to come. The fact that we have a President who is willing to take these steps is beyond anything most in the liberty movement would have thought possible a decade ago.