By Michael Drohan
It is a mere few months since President Trump promised to obliterate North Korea off the face of the earth, as he would visit on them “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” and as he demeaned Chairman Kim Jong-Un as “little rocket man”. Kim responded with his own shower of insults calling Trump “a dotard.”
It seemed as if the world was on a precipice, with the leader of the US, and his over 1000 nuclear bombs at his button switch, threatening humanity with Armageddon. He seemed to embrace Richard Nixon’s maxim of frightening enemies by emulating a madman, and then carrying it a bit further by actually behaving as a madman. Whether we felt as if the end times were upon us or not, it was not an irrational feeling to have had. Trump’s statements after the Singapore agreement reveal that he knew what he was saying and meant it.
No doubt the frightening situation just described helped motivate the South Korean Prime Minister Moon Jae In and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-Un to hold a series of meetings and negotiations, out of which came the proposal that Kim Jong-Un and President Trump meet. After some fits and starts, ons and offs, the two leaders did finally meet on June 12 in Singapore at the Sentosa island resort. To make the meeting more remarkable, President Trump had just come from a meeting of the G7 leaders in Canada where he had liberally berated and insulted the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and highly offended all the leaders of the G7 by threatening tariffs left, right and center. By any standards, one has to be in awe of this meeting occurring. Here was the most bizarre maverick President of the USA meeting with a once reclusive and dictatorial ruler of an impoverished nation as equals.
Reactions to the rulers’ meeting from politicians and the press at large are as bizarre as the meeting itself. Democratic neoliberals and the liberal press have by and large expressed horror at this meeting, accusing Trump of selling out for nothing in return. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) almost accused Trump of betraying America for saying that there would be no more war games and that these same war games were provocative to N. Korea. Nicholas Kristof alleged that by the very act of meeting Kim Jong-Un, the leader of the free world was giving Kim Jong-Un legitimacy and raising him to the level of the US President.
There is no doubt that the war games conducted by the US in conjunction with South Korea and Japan are highly provocative. They simulate decapitating the North Korean regime and destroying that country. They are the most obvious reason that North Korea has developed a nuclear capability. Such a reaction by Democrats is at best pathetic. When Trump for once seems to have done the right thing, the Democrats could only show their imperialistic convictions. It is truly a strange paradox that the most uneducated and ignorant President the US ever has had was able to say openly that, yes, the US military presence and exercises in S. Korea are an act of aggression that has elicited a nuclear response. The North Koreans understand what happened in Libya and Iraq and is likely to happen in Iran.
Liberal press outlets such as MSNBC and the New York Times, and late night comedians such as Colbert and Noah, express great horror that the leader of the free world would meet with a tin-pot brutal dictator. Fair comment, but they fail to add that the US has been cohabiting with the most brutal dictators in the world for decades. Witness Trump’s first international meeting with the Saudi criminal princes and sheiks. Trump has a fatal attraction to dictators, oppressors and oligarchs but he shares that with many of his predecessors. At best, the condemnation of Trump for meeting Kim Jong-Un, given his human rights violations, seems phony.
What will be the ultimate outcome of the Trump-Kim Jong-Un meeting is entirely unclear. It is well known and needs no emphasis that Trump is totally unpredictable and subject to whims, moods, vindictiveness and vengeance. We know less about Kim Jong-Un, except that he has an unsavory past of executing family members and others who oppose him. All in all, not a happy mix. The situation on the Korean peninsula, however, may be determinative. The South Koreans realize that the US military presence on the peninsula is a cancerous growth that has sown division and dissension for over 70 years. It separates and antagonizes brother from brother and sister from sister. It is possible that they are both colluding, North and South, in getting Donald Trump the Nobel Peace Prize in return for he and his troops leaving the peninsula and leaving the people of Korea in peace. The cost of peace may be to appease his megalomania.
Michael is a member of the Editorial Collective and TMC Board.