President Donald Trump is counting down toward an opportunity to achieve one of the most significant diplomatic triumphs in American history. His June 12 face-to-face summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in Singapore is comparable in momentousness to Ronald Reagan’s summit with then-Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the mid-1980s.
One of the leading experts on the Reagan Presidency, John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, recommends that Trump devote part of his prep time for the meeting to examining how Reagan prepared to confront Gorbachev. Writing in USA Today, Heubusch observes:
(Reagan) positioned the United States strategically before he sat at the negotiating table and made his goals clear. His preparation and focus lent finesse to his negotiations, resulting in the eventual elimination of all intermediate and short-range missiles in Europe.
Heubusch, the author of the best-selling The Shroud Conspiracy novel and forthcoming sequel, The Second Coming, is scheduled to be keynote speaker for the 2019 Moore County Republican Party Ronald Reagan dinner this February.
Trump will always be Trump, Heubusch acknowledges, but it would be wise for his inner circle to coach him on the Reagan formula that would change the world more than three decades ago.
In the month leading up to his meeting with Kim, Trump should make his own strategy just as clear and consistent. He should also be clear on his specific aims. He must combine his negotiating tactics with rigorous preparation at the level Reagan mastered.