SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
And about that summit - who sits where? What kind of handshake? What's for dinner? Conversation with the former Chief of U.S. Protocol tomorrow on Weekend Edition Sunday. Ask your smart speaker to play NPR, WCPN, WSIU, KBIA.
Some analysis now from an academic who's largely been impressed with President Trump's unconventional approach to the job, both at home and on the world stage. Randall Schweller is a political science professor at Ohio State University. Professor Schweller, thanks very much for being with us.
RANDALL SCHWELLER: Thanks for having me.
SIMON: We just heard about tensions among the Group of Seven. Can you see how a country like Canada, which, by the way, joined alongside U.S. soldiers in the invasion of Normandy, the anniversary of which was marked this past week, are offended when President Trump cites national security interest as a reason for tariffs on metal imports?
SCHWELLER: I can understand it, but I think they're overreacting quite a bit to it. This is just Realism 101 in some cases. I mean, no global power wants to rely on neighbors, whether, you know, friends or enemies, for key sectors of its defense industry. It's just something states don't do. So, you know, am I losing sleep that Canada's going to restrict - press, you know, steel and aluminum for our defense? No. But, you know, this is still a concern.
When you can be - states all want autonomy. If you can be autonomous, then that's the road that you choose. And the Commerce Department did conclude that imported metals threaten U.S. national security by degrading the American industrial base. So we can't have a hollowed-out industrial base. We need manufacturing in this country.
SIMON: Let me get onto the Singapore meeting in just a few days with Kim Jong Un. President Trump's already said, we don't want regime change, hasn't so much as mentioned North Korea's many crimes against human rights and their own people. Has President Trump already given away too much just to get this meeting?
SCHWELLER: No, I don't think so. I think, you know, the United States - he ran on "America First." And part of that was a sense that the U.S. would retrench somewhat around the world and make its allies do more of the heavy lifting in terms of their own defense.
One of the things - in order to have a lower profile in East Asia, we have to have a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. So that's the key issue, not human rights. And Trump - this is clearly Trump's platform when he was running. He doesn't care about things like human rights, nation-building. You know, these kinds of things are secondary.
SIMON: But, I mean, he doesn't care about human rights? The president of the United States doesn't care about human rights? I mean, I think to a lot of Americans, that's an important part of what it is to be the United States in the world.
SCHWELLER: Yes. But to a lot of Americans, it's not our business. It becomes a very hypocritical stance when you care about human rights in one place but not in other places. America has to do what's in its own interest. You know, the world's not a perfect place. We'll do the best we can. But here we're talking about a state with a potential to hit American cities with nuclear weapons. We have to be realistic about what we can do. We can't talk about regime change.
SIMON: Let me ask you one more question in the 30 seconds we have left. As a professor, President Trump proudly says, I don't think I have to prepare very much for this summit. It's about attitude. Would you accept that attitude about a test from one of your students there at Ohio State?
SCHWELLER: No, but I think he's done far more since he's been president to move this issue along than has been done in decades since. I mean, we're at the table. We're talking with Kim Jong Un seriously about denuclearizing. This comes after a year ago, when he talked about fire and fury, and people were talking about a nuclear war.
Let's see. I am very hopeful that this deal will come about, that it will start a process of denuclearization. And that, like Trump said, he's been studying his whole life. He was elected to do this kind of work - to put America first, to be a bargainer...
SIMON: Thank you very much, Professor.
SCHWELLER: ...To bring to negotiations.
SIMON: Thanks so much, Professor Schweller.
SCHWELLER: Thank you. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.