Praising "tactical unpredictability" as an "asset" in President Donald Trump's dealings with North Korea and dictator Kim Jong Un, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Trump's oft-critiqued strategies have worked, so far at least.
"I think that the unpredictability in terms of some of the tweets and some of the tough talk did get the attention of the North Koreans and the Chinese as well – in terms of fire and fury and so on," Gates told CBS's "Face the Nation"
"You know, my view is generally that tactical unpredictability is good and as an asset; strategic unpredictability is probably not a good idea for a great power."
Gates added a lot is left to be decided, even if President Trump has "a lot of cards to play."
"I think the president goes in with a lot of cards to play: a peace treaty, diplomatic recognition, a guarantee that the United States would not try and overthrow the regime by force, the whole panoply of economic sanctions that have been put on" Gates told CBS host Margaret Brennan. "So, he has a lot to negotiate with. And the question is how you move the ball forward in a way that extracts from the North genuine movement in these areas and that isn't reversible — as we saw with the 1994 agreement and so on — and that's the key.
"So I think the two things to watch out for, if you will, are: are agreements where the North Koreans could reverse themselves at relatively little cost; and the second is some kind of an agreement that leaves the South Koreans and the Japanese out in the cold."
Gates did admit President Trump's standing up to Kim's bombastic threats – and sanctions forcing a thirst for Kim to work a deal to save his sinking economy – helped get the U.S. into substantive talks of denuclearization, though.
"I think the president's tough talk and the willingness of the Chinese and the Russians to agree to the toughest sanctions we've ever really applied to North Korea certainly increased the pressure on the North Koreans to come to the table," Gates said.
"So, I think that's an important piece of it."
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