Trump and North Korea

All aboard the “peace train”?

W.J. Astore

This week Trump is off to Vietnam to meet with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea.  Revealingly, the bar is already being set very low for what may be accomplished at this meeting.  Trump’s original goal was denuclearization, meaning that North Korea would have to give up its nuclear weapons program and remove whatever atomic bombs or warheads it has.  But North Korea isn’t stupid.  They know what happened to Qaddafi when he got rid of his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Libya.  For North Korea, nuclear WMD is a sort of insurance policy — a rational arsenal to deter the U.S. from launching a regime-change war.

Coming out of the last summit in Singapore between these men, Trump essentially declared “peace in our time,” even though North Korea has yet to make any significant changes in its nuclear weapons program.  Again, why should North Korea surrender its weapons?

If Ronald Reagan’s motto was “trust — but verify” with the Soviet Union, Trump’s motto with North Korea is simply “trust.”  It’s encouraging that Trump is no longer threatening to bring nuclear fire and fury to the North Koreans, and that Kim Jong-un is no longer approving launches of missiles in the general direction of Hawaii.  But is there any treaty being negotiated with substantive details of verification?  Do the North Koreans truly have any intent to give up their nuclear weapons?  I’d say the answer to both questions is no.

Interestingly, at the request of the Trump administration, the Japanese government has nominated Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize for his attempted rapprochement with North Korea.  Perhaps Trump’s peculiar brand of diplomacy may ease tensions with North Korea.  Detente may be followed by a negotiated settlement and an end to the rancor produced by the Korean War.  Such an ending would indeed be prize-worthy.

Trump’s quixotic efforts seem more vanity project than a well-considered project for peace.  Yet perhaps a vain wannabe dictator like Trump has an edge in understanding a vain and very real dictator like Kim Jong-un.  Trump, after all, did speak of a special bond he has with Kim, one that’s akin to falling in love.  And doesn’t love conquer all?

Trump, sadly, is probably being played by North Korea.  But who cares if lives are saved?  Facing possible famine, the North Korean people could surely use food and other aid.  Let’s hope the U.S. is able to give them some in exchange for promises, however vague, of denuclearization, however defined.

At this point, I’m tired of thinking of countries and national egos.  I’d rather think of saving lives.  Why not start in North Korea?

5 thoughts on “Trump and North Korea

  1. Played indeed.

    Although, really, anything that lowers tensions on the peninsula seems worth it. Ideally, North and South would move towards reunification. It isn’t as if Juche has done North Korea that much good – the country is an economic province of China.

    A united, neutral Korean peninsula would eliminate a key global flashpoint. A real President might be able to make that happen (and be remembered fondly for a generation).


  2. Another U.S. President heads for North Vietnam after choosing not to do any grunt time in South Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos when the opportunity to personally defeat World-Wide Communism presented itself.

    Anyway, something I wrote on the occasion of President George W. Bush finally making the trip to Vietnam on November 17, 2006, decades after a better American woman, Jane Fonda, made the trip in his place. Three-and-a-half years into his own Vietnam-style debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan — disasters that he would bequeath to his successor[s] two years later — Dubya the Dimwit proved to the world that what he didn’t learn about America in Southeast Asia, he wouldn’t learn about America in the Middle East, either.

    Hanoi Haiku

    In Hanoi at last
    Red-carpet in return for
    Our carpet-bombing

    The words no one heard,
    Due so many years after:
    “We apologize”

    Deputy Dubya
    Sheriff Cheney’s Barney Fife
    Lost in Mayberry

    Gullible Goofy
    The boy who cried Wolfowitz
    Far too many times

    Emerald City
    Naked ruler’s brand new clothes
    Viewed through glasses green

    Mission Accomplished!
    A cakewalk in its last throes
    Now a glacier race

    Four Years an “instant”
    Nothing happens right away
    What did you expect?

    Broken-egg omelets
    George Orwell’s Catastrophic

    Shop till the troops drop
    Buy a plane ticket or two
    Your part in the “war”

    Rob the future now
    They will never break our will
    Those grandkids of ours

    Lecture the victors
    About their First and Second
    Indochina Wars

    Where did we get him?
    How come we can’t do better?
    We look so stupid

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2006


  3. Short and to the point:

    ‘No agreement was reached’ at Trump, Kim summit – White House, (28 Feb, 2019)

    Now the rest of the world knows how to treat Trump and his minions when they come calling for more empty photo-op propaganda imagery aimed at their bible-thumping base back home in Opioid Overdose, U.S.A.

    Meanwhile, those Americans interested in how they became poor and hopelessly trapped in escalating debt peonage can better spend their time getting news, information, and historical perspective from Jimmy Dore. See: How Wall Street Gave Us Trump — with Michael Hudson (February 27, 2019). See how the Babylonians did things right and how the Romans (like Barack Obama) didn’t.


    1. Here’s the BBC take –

      So it ends as it always would. Just a stunt, in the end, that ‘ol babyface dictator comes out of looking tough, orange idiot looks like his usual self, and both twits’ bases are happy.

      Kind of like the India-Pakistan spat – choreographed escalations that play well at home. Until someone miscalculates, or something random happens like another terrorist attack.

      Also, anyone notice how Cohen just said publicly what I keep arguing? The the peaceful transfer of power is actually in question (as paranoid as that sounds)?

      The US media and political classes are barely even covering this. I guess the idea that Trump is an incompetent puppet is just too easy a narrative to sell? What if Trump is just playing a character, conning everyone, when he knows exactly what he’s after: President-for-life?

      And if he is, who or what will stop him? Justice Roberts? Nancy Pelosi? Mitch McConnell?


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