No deal with North Korea shows ‘Art of the Deal’ limits

President Trump leaving Vietnam without a nuclear deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shows how tough it is even for the author of “The Art of the Deal” to swing an agreement with Pyongyang.

Former CIA Director General David Petraeus tells “WSJ at Large” host Gerry Baker it takes a lot of effort for the leaders to eventually agree on something where they will sign their names on the dotted line.

“Obviously, this demonstrates the limits of personal diplomacy, if you will, with Kim Jong-un,” Petreaus says. “The president, I think, went there thinking he could do what the diplomats had not been able to do leading up to that, that he could pull a rabbit out of a hat.”

But Petraeus argues the groundwork has to be laid out first.

“As some wise people have said, the reason presidents have been able to pull rabbits out of hats is that diplomats have worked really hard to put them in the hat in advance,” he says.

Petraeus, who also commanded the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, doesn't fault Trump for trying his way of doing things.

“It is possible for an unconventional style to produce results where conventional styles have not,” he notes. “His (Trump's) common refrain is, 'Well, tell me how the previous guys did with their conventional approaches, let me try my approach and see if I can do better.'  And in this case it did not produce anything better.”

Petraeus, a retired four-star Army general, believes that the Vietnam summit's results confirm that the president's advisers had a better understanding than he did of what North Korea was willing to do.

“This outcome does seem to support the intelligence community's assessment rather than the president's hopes,” he adds.


Petraeus says it's unfortunate that no deal was reached at the Hanoi summit and he's not optimistic that the North Koreans will eventually agree to end their nuclear program.

“It seems pretty unlikely,” he says.