Any thought on the word ‘wise’ in relation to leadership does not readily bring to mind the image of President Donald Trump of the United States. This is largely owed to his idiosyncratic erraticism. But no matter. The felt might of his power to friends and foes, often the same, is incontrovertible. Chairman Kim Jong Un of North Korea has also by now built up a reputation of stupendous unpredictability. Both Trump and Kim have also relentlessly pursued perceived national self –interest driving the world, as it seemed at times, to the brink of war. Then pulling back from the abyss, suddenly and often inexplicably. So, might they be birds of a feather? Perhaps. All the world wondered, with bated breath, for both of them to meet for their much vaunted, on-again, off-again Summit, which finally took place on the 12th of June in the tranquil setting of the resort island of Sentosa in Singapore.
There are really no low lying hanging fruits that can be easily plucked in the Singapore Summit. But for that reason, not to try at all would be neither fish, flesh fowl, nor good red herring. The basis for continued bonhomie could be made, even if real achievements cannot be perceived as lying beyond the rim of the saucer. For instance, the Korean War of 1951-53 is not yet formally over. Even if a Peace Treaty was apparently not contemplated at Singapore, such intent in future could make a good beginning. This would also send an important ‘value-signal’ to the contemporary world in favour of elimination of conflicts,and the pursuit of peace.
Singapore, the Lion City, was an ideal venue for the occasion. It is secure, safe and smart. It is a past master in protocol prerequisites and would be fully able to provide the impression of the two sides being equal and at par. The City -State has the intellectual wherewithal to insert ideas to smoothen the talks, should the need and call for them arise. Its Foreign Minister has spoken of the willingness, and more importantly, the ability to perform the role of an ‘honest moderator’. It is also rich enough to pick up the tab for security which might not be inconsiderable. The main actors were Trump and Kim. They may not seem eager to learn from history but nevertheless may be well poised to make it.