So, there we have it, folks. A big pile of poop that Donald Trump, of course, is passing off as an amazing historic achievement — for himself — as if any one of his predecessors couldn’t have done the same thing had they been as gullible, dim-witted, arrogant and driven by an incessant need for approbation – instead of the huge win it was for Pyongyang.
So, what transpired? Photo-ops with an American president that Korean dictators have been seeking for 50 years without the North making one concession on its nuclear arsenal or its loathsome human-rights record — which wasn’t even brought up — and handing Pyongyang the public relations victory it’s always sought by giving the impression the two nations are equals. What did we get? Bupkis. Oh yeah and maybe a McDonald’s in Pyongyang.
Never mind that Trump made a real concession without any consultation with allies or even aides in calling off what he called “provocative” joint military exercises with South Korea, long a major source of North Korean infuriation without anything in return.
It also bestowed legitimacy on a regime so broke it couldn’t afford to pay for its hotel rooms and had to borrow a plane from China because none of its could fly that far.
This was a fiasco from the day Trump, on a whim, announced he would wing it with Kim Jong-un without any prior planning, staff consultations or even a grasp of the fact that since 1992 the North has broken every promise it made regarding dismantling its weapons programs.
Time was, oh say two years ago, when summits meant something; they accomplished recognizable goals and concluded long-term lower level negotiations. They were serious and substantial as opposed to simply grip and grins. Instead, tough-guy Trump beamed childishly as Kim completely snookered him. Maybe he felt superior because Kim’s hands were even tinier than his own.
Trump’s exaggerated confidence in his ability to schmooze anyone led to him being played perfectly, thinking he really didn’t have to prepare, instead telling reporters he would know “within the first minute” whether Kim is serious about making a deal – “Just my touch, my feel, that’s what I do.” Trump’s conclusion: he “knows for a fact” that North Korea is serious about denuclearization and that Kim “wants to do the right thing.” What is he, a dog sniffing Kim’s rump to see if they’ll be playmates?
They don’t need to like each other. What they need to do is after a series of real negotiations and verifications trust and respect each other. Former State Department diplomat and Korean expert Christopher Hill was spot on when he opined, “No question this was speed dating.”