On February 12, 2013, North Korea carried out its third nuclear test in the run-up to the inauguration of a new administration – my own – in the South. Around that time, the Presidential Transition Committee adopted the “Trust-Building Process on the Korean Peninsula” as a key policy of the new administration. Though the North’s nuclear test created pressure to revise the trust-building process, I made it clear that I would stay the course.
For presidents, like sports-team managers, the tough weeks tend to outnumber the jubilant. But even by the standards of an unforgiving job, Barack Obama could be forgiven for feeling unusually buffeted of late. Many of the blows have come on the domestic front, with the all-consuming stand-off of the government shutdown segueing into frantic efforts to defend and repair the roll-out of Obamacare amid charges of fatal technological incompetence.
A series of events in recent weeks has created a widespread narrative that the U.S. is an unreliable ally and a weak partner. First, the U.S. government shutdown forced President Barack Obama to cancel his trip to a couple of Asia summits. Then, new Edward Snowden leaks revealed that the National Security Agency has been spying on up to 35 world leaders, including top U.S. allies like German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
One basic obstacle for the new round of talks over Iran’s nuclear program that open today will be America’s basic distrust of the Iranian regime. Before striking any deal with Tehran, the Obama Administration will have to gauge whether a country where hostility toward the U.S. has been a core political theme since 1979 is acting in good faith.
As U.S. and Russian diplomats reached an agreement over the weekend to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, the public expresses support for a diplomatic approach to the crisis but is skeptical about its effectiveness. By a 67% to 23% margin, the public approves of Barack Obama’s decision to delay military airstrikes and pursue a diplomatic effort to convince Syria to give up its chemical weapons. However, just 26% think Syria will give up control of its chemical weapons, while 57% think it will not.
The United States doesn't have to trust Russian President Vladimir Putin, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Sunday on "Face the Nation," over his tentative agreement to help identify Syria's chemical weapons, place them under international control and ultimately dismantle them was "the only way to solve" the country's raging civil war.
For China to trust the US, American elites indicated that it is necessary to enhance communication, understand cultural differences, and improve fair trade, the trade deficit and diplomatic cooperation. Similarly, Chinese elites urged communication and cooperation, non-interference in Chinese internal matters, reduced political posturing, and respecting and understanding China.