“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” – Donald Trump, 08 August 2017
“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” – Donald Trump, 19 September 2017
“He is unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician.” – Kim Jong-un, 22 September 2017
“Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation. I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.” – Kim Jong-un, 22 September 2017
“Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend — and maybe someday that will happen!” – Donald Trump, 11 November 2017
“It’s not a mere threat but a reality that I have a nuclear button on the desk in my office. All of the mainland United States is within the range of our nuclear strike.” – Kim Jong-un, 01 January 2018
“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” – Donald Trump, 02 January 2018
“I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un.” – Donald Trump, 11 January 2018
It would be hilarious, were it not so pathetic, that we can predict when Trump’s approval rating will rise. On the very rare occasions that he has done something perceived as being the right thing, such as his State of the Union Address in January, his approval rating goes up … not a lot, mind you, but up over 40%. It gradually drops back down to its normal 35% – 37% until the next time. I knew today before I even looked that it would be up, simply because of his agreement to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in May to discuss nuclear disarmament. Members of Trump’s base have worn their palms raw from clapping so hard. But hold on just a minute, folks …
While many are praising Trump for accepting the invitation to meet with the North Korean leader, and are holding out high hopes for wonderful results, I view the potential meeting, should it even take place, with some degree of trepidation. A large degree of trepidation, actually. Why? Because a meeting between these two strange personalities playing at being world leaders is a recipe for potential disaster. Both are hot-headed, narcissistic, megalomaniacs who have been throwing barbs and insults across the sea at each other for more than a year (see above). Surely you don’t think that just because they are in a room together, they will each suddenly become calm, rational and intelligent beings whose only goal is to promote global peace, do you?
First, there is the main goal of the meeting. While both Trump and Kim use the same terminology, ‘denuclearization’, they define the word quite differently. For Donald Trump, denuclearization means North Korea giving up their nuclear program and cessation of all further nuclear tests. For Kim Jong-un, the more likely ideal outcome would be a bilateral disarmament and would also likely include reversing sanctions Trump has imposed on North Korea, as well as withdrawal of U.S. troops from the peninsula. If Trump goes into this meeting thinking to take without giving, he will be sorely disappointed.
Second, this is not the way in which diplomacy happens. Now, I know some may jump in and say that perhaps this is the better way – two leaders meeting without prior negotiations and planning by seasoned diplomats. But there is a reason ambassadors and diplomats such as State Department heads are typically involved in the initial negotiations and preparations … that is their forte, they are the experts in the field. They lay the groundwork, feel out the other side, report back to their respective countries, and go from there. Diplomats are trained to listen to the other side. Trump has no penchant for listening, for he believes that his own words are the only ones of any importance. Unfortunately, we are short several diplomats in the area, and Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson is still learning the job he was ill-prepared for, and is often the subject of much ridicule in the Korean peninsula.
And third, we must consider the personalities of these two megalomaniacs. Look again at the taunts and threats at the beginning of this post. These are the mentalities that will meet up in a room, these are the two “men”, and I do use the term loosely, who will be trying to come to terms on something about which they both feel strongly, and which, if the talk turns to vitriol and disparagement, could threaten the security of every nation on the planet.
So yes, I am less than enthused by the prospect of a meeting between these two. Some good may come out of it, and if so, I will be thankful and perhaps the world will breathe a sigh of relief. But let us not lose sight of the fact that there are potential perils.
One thing that we all need to do is ignore the bombast and braggadocio that comes from not only Trump, but his White House boot-lickers as well. It is irrelevant. No, agreeing to meet with Kim Jong-un is not the greatest foreign policy win of the past 100 years. No, no, and no, it does not make him the greatest ‘president’ in U.S. history. The proof will be, or fail to be in the results, if the meeting takes place. Until then, the media and We The People need to not fall prey to his silly self-praise. Let him pat himself on the back as he will … just don’t watch. Even if he pulls this off and comes back with a reasonable agreement that makes the world a little safer place, it cannot undo all the harm he has done in the past 14 months. What he will be doing, if he succeeds in negotiating with Kim, is his job … nothing more, nothing less.