A former deputy national security adviser to President Barack Obama warned President Donald Trump should not attempt being a one-man show in diplomatic talks with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
“This is not a real estate deal or reality show,” Ben Rhodes quipped to ABC’s “This Week.” “When you’re in a negotiation as complex, with a situation that is volatile, you need diplomats. Don’t hollow out the State Department.”
Rhodes, admitting to host Jonathan Karl that President Trump would not be calling him for advice, was ripping the current administration for failing by shrinking the spending and size of Trump’s State Department and its failure to get diplomats approved – albeit some of that has been a function of Democratic obstruction.
“They have no ambassador to Seoul [South Korea],” Rhodes told Karl. “Get the professionals in the room to put together a strategy. You need to value science. . . . There needs to be a team of diplomats of scientists and sanction experts. It can’t be a mano-a-mano show.”
President Trump tweeted a timely rebuke of Democratic obstructionists Sunday.
The Democrats continue to Obstruct the confirmation of hundreds of good and talented people who are needed to run our government…A record in U.S. history. State Department, Ambassadors and many others are being slow walked. Senate must approve NOW!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 11, 2018
Rhodes did give a modicum of credit to President Trump in bringing North Korea to the diplomatic table, but the support only goes as far as results will bring.
“We should all root for the success of diplomacy with North Korea,” Rhodes admitted. “I think it is right to pursue the diplomatic track. I think the questions that we have are about whether he’s equipped to succeed in that diplomacy.
“He’s declaring victory and nothing has happened yet.”
Rhodes fears the U.S. might not be fully ready for talks with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, despite Obama’s “strategic patience” never having brought such progress, but Rhodes gave more credit to South Korea’s new leadership to having “brokered this chit-chat.”
“Get a team together. Know what you’re trying to accomplish: Denuclearization is the objective,” Rhodes urged. “The notion that North Korea will agree to give up their weapons in one meeting, I don’t think anybody thinks that’s the case. I welcome diplomacy. It has to be done right. If not, the risk of conflict goes up.”
Rhodes also admitted former President Obama is rooting for President Trump.
“Yes,” Rhodes said of Obama’s support of North Korean diplomacy. “I think all Americans should be. There’s nothing more complex than nuclear negotiations. You cannot approach this like a reality show. You have to bring in the experts. You invest in the same time of capabilities in our government.”