Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Neither Trump, Alone, Nor America, First

Taking in all aspects of President Trump's trip to Vietnam to meet with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, it is almost certainly correct that he left when he did and not a complete failure not to have achieved North Korean denuclearization in his second meeting. It was also dumb to talk full denuclearization knowing full well NK was doing no such thing, or even throwing about Nobel Peace prize talk.  Discussing Kim's "love letters" is unseemly.  If Trump looks like he's not a having a great success after this trip, it is in part the expectations he created that are largely to blame, coupled with what look like actual walk-backs such as no longer expecting a full accounting of No Ko nuclear stocks and scaling back joint military exercises with South Korea.

And those things only half make me concerned--scaling back military exercises with South Korea is exactly the kind of halt to macho posturing bullshit I totally support, but I don't think it's weird to want to know whether North Korea is actually trying to scale down their programs when satellite intelligence kind of indicates they really are not. (Not for nothing, but President Obama's Iran deal, much derided by Trump, at least involved thorough inspections. Which have displayed so far no acceleration of nuclear war capability.)

Trump being Trump, there is some discrepancy regarding the conditions under which the talks broke down. He maintains the North Koreans wanted a full end to sanctions, but North Korea says, no, just partial, which I'm not even sure should have been a deal-breaker if they could have met that with ensuring inspections.

The really shocking sentiment regarding North Korea made by Trump, though, had been regarding his acceptance that Kim had no knowledge of what had happened to Otto Warmbier, and "taking him at his word". This has been accepted, apparently, by his fellow Republicans.  I can't help but find that shocking, though. Warmbier was an American, and he was ostensibly brutalized as a specifically American prisoner of NK when they knew full well that holding him was significant to us and returning him in good condition would have been an expression of their good faith. They fucked that boy up. If Kim, the dictator, is not responsible, who the hell is? Kim is young but not a child. He murdered to keep his place. The idea he doesn't have the ability to assure that a valuable prisoner stays in good shape is his failure, because he should have made sure he knew what was up with that young man.

And all Trump can tell us is how smart this grinning dictator son of dictators is?

This is weakness. I understand he might have his reasons, but Trump's negotiations are weak. Trump assured us regarding domestic policy that he alone knew what to do, and regarding foreign policy, he told us he would think of America First. Is the safety of US person abroad not an American concern? Can he place a value on whatever negotiation brought this young man home, but discount the condition in which we received him?

But we see the same thing when Trump takes Putin at his word regarding meddling in the US election process, or takes Prince MbS at his word regarding the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.  Trump behaves as if ignoring these episodes wipes a slate clean, and enables him to deal afresh with proven dubious actors.

He is not demonstrating American strength this way, and needs to stop thinking he represents Trump, the not-Nobel-Prize winning ass, alone. He represents the United States of America now, a great nation that does not need him to be great, but requires him to be at least somewhat competent to be appropriately represented to do even day-to-day things. Like have our citizens not be murdered by thugs and have democratic elections.

So far, he seems insufficient to this kind of task.

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