Reaching out to Trump

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Reaching out to Trump

Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential race — despite a critical lack of experience in politics and his eccentricity — is a fait accompli. It is time for us to calm down and prepare for what he will do in his administration.

Other countries are moving fast. Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe on Monday called Trump to congratulate him on his victory and plans to meet him on Nov. 17 in New York. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, proposed a summit in Europe. Leaders of the United Kingdom, Germany and France rushed to send congratulatory messages — while they brace for a very uncertain future with Trump as U.S. president.

Korea can’t react quite so fast due to the influence-peddling scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil. Given the ramifications of the scandal on our security and economy, government paralysis can be understood. But it is still unclear who should represent the government if it should hold a summit with Trump. (President Park on Thursday called Trump to deliver her congratulations.)

We cannot afford to sit on our hands. The ruling Saenuri Party and bureaucrats must run the administration in an unprecedented power vacuum caused by the president. Max Weber, a famous German sociologist, called bureaucrats and technocrats “a group without soul.” Regardless, they are capable of doing what is necessary when needed. In an emergency situation like this, officials in charge of diplomacy and trade must do their jobs in the government.

They should meet with those who are expected to handle diplomatic and trade policies in the Trump administration and let them understand the complexity of the Korean Peninsula. Pundits criticize the government for a lack of information on Trump’s advisers. Still, there are a few, including Edwin Feulner, a pro-Korean scholar and former president of the Heritage Foundation, and Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, who is allegedly respected by Trump. Haas is said to have advised Trump to prioritize Asia over Europe. Trump has other advisers including John Bolton — a former under-secretary of state for arms control and international security — who is well-informed about the peninsula.

If the bureaucrats have more contacts with them, they can help change the Trump administration’s security and trade policies to our favor.

The government also needs to consider the idea of sending a special emissary to the Trump camp.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 11, Page 30
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