Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Mr. Trump Goes To Singapore

Donald Trump managed to get a number of vague statements out of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, but basically nothing in the way of details or verification of "denuclearization" while the US apparently is giving up joint military exercises with South Korea in exchange for a piece of paper.

President Trump said he “developed a very special bond” with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their historic summit here Tuesday and proclaimed the start of a new era that could break a cycle of nuclear brinkmanship and stave off a military confrontation.

“Yesterday’s conflict does not have to be tomorrow’s war,” Trump said at a news conference in Singapore following more than four hours of talks with Kim.

Trump said Kim “reaffirmed” his commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and also agreed to destroy a missile site in the country.

“We’re ready to write a new chapter between our nations,” the president said.

Trump sounded triumphant following his meeting with Kim, expressing confidence that the North Korean leader was serious about abandoning his nuclear program and transforming his country from an isolated rogue regime into a respected member of the world community.

But Trump provided few specifics about what steps Kim would take to back up his promise to denuclearize his country and how the United States would verify that North Korea was keeping its pledge to get rid of its nuclear weapons, saying that would be worked out in future talks
“We will do it as fast as it can mechanically and physically be done,” he said of the process to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons.

Trump announced that he will order an end to regular “war games” that the United States conducts with ally South Korea, a reference to annual joint military exercises that are an irritant to North Korea.

Trump called the exercises “very provocative” and “inappropriate” in light of the optimistic opening he sees with North Korea. Ending the exercises would also save money, Trump said.

The United States has conducted such exercises for decades as a symbol of unity with Seoul and previously rejected North Korean complaints as illegitimate. Ending the games would be a significant political benefit for Kim, but Trump insisted he had not given up leverage.

“I think the meeting was every bit as good for the United States as it was for North Korea,” Trump said, casting himself as a leader who can secure a deal that has eluded past presidents.

South Korea’s presidential office seemed blindsided by the announcement on the joint exercises.

“We need to try to understand what President Trump said,” a spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in said

So in the last 48 hours, Trump has effectively isolated the US from its G-7 allies, directly angered Canada and insulted PM Justin Trudeau, backed out of a joint statement with our oldest allies, and then signed on to a statement with arguably the most repressive and bloody dictator on earth.

The pundits are absolutely correct to call this both historic and unprecedented, and none of it is a good thing.  The message this sends to both our allies and to the world's most vicious dictators is unmistakable: the legitimacy you crave is for sale by Trump.  The scale and magnitude of Kim's propaganda victory here can't be overstated.  Trump has proven that pursuit of a nuclear program will get you recognition by the US as a potential ally.  There isn't a dictator on earth who isn't now considering a nuclear weapons program as the path to power and legitimacy.

This has been the worst week for US diplomacy in decades.

Oh, and South Korea wasn't consulted at all.  They had no clue.  Trump is more accommodating to Kim than he is Moon. And recall that Republicans were screaming at how awful the Iran nuclear deal supposedly was, and they're falling all over themselves calling Trump the greatest president in US history for a "promise" from a dictator not to lie.

China is laughing up its sleeve.  Russia couldn't be happier.

Trump is the Dunning-Kruger poster boy in the party of cognitive-biased fools.

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