THE optics were good when history was in the making. As Maya Angelou, the great American poet, musician, memoirs writer and civil rights activist once said, “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
Yesterday, the world witnessed the leaders of the United States of America and North Korea holding a historic and unprecedented summit in Singapore.
US President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un of the DPRK met and went through all the motions of the meeting, including signing a document with issues they pledged to each other in a face-to-face meeting that grabbed the world’s attention.
Thus June 12 goes in the annals of history as a day when history could not be unlived. Analysts and leaders from all five continents are trying to unpack the historic Trump-Kim summit, with some welcoming it with cautious optimism.
It was unthinkable that yesterday could happen, for apart from the escalating testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles by North Korea, including threats that their next target was the United States, Marshall Kim and Trump traded barbs — breaking all rules of international diplomacy.
What broke the camel’s back?
Although there are a number of variables, including the North’s long-standing isolation from the western community; economic sanctions and others, the efforts by leaders from South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and others to bring the United States and its erstwhile nemesis won the day.
President Trump and Marshall Kim should also be congratulated for making this difficult decision, that many thought might not succeed.
Their personalities, backgrounds and varying ideological perspectives could have been an impediment, but their commitment to global peace won the day.
As Kim summed it up when he said to Trump, through a translator: “Well, it was not easy to get here.
“The past worked as fetters on our limbs, and the old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward. But we overcame all of them, and we are here today.”
Trump in his usual attitude that no task is too hard for him expressed confidence about the success of the summit.
“I feel really great. We are going to have a great discussion and I think tremendous success. We will be tremendously successful. And it’s my honour and we will have a terrific relationship, I have no doubt.”
But, what does the June 12 summit mean to the two nations, the Korean Peninsula, the proliferation of nuclear arms and the way forward?
What does it mean for North Korea which was always referred to as one of the outposts of tyranny?
What does it also mean for the Middle East, Iran deal to be precise?
Whatever happens in the coming days, weeks, months or years, June 12 was a historic example that it is possible to choose peace over war.
We hope the UN, which was launched from the rubble of the League of Nations, took notice.
This is what the world expects of an organisation formed on the lofty ideal of saving the world from the scourge of war.