The North Korea Summit Isn't All Good (or Bad) News: Op-ed
Kim Jong Un and Trump met on Monday in Singapore, and the country, once again, is divided. The one indelible truth about these two meeting is that it is, in fact, historic. Whether or not that's a good thing remains at issue, but this should be easy enough to agree upon.
As a matter of full disclosure, I am no fan of either of these men. I find them both to be spoiled, incurious, bastions of self interest, who would sell their own mothers for power. That being said, I try my absolute best to give credit where credit is due. So, I'll start with the good.
The fact that Trump chose to go the diplomatic route with Un is a pretty impressive feat when you consider the room. His National Security Adviser, John Bolton, is notoriously hawkish. You may remember him as the mustachioed fellow who introduced the idea of using the 'Libya model' for future denuclearization in North Korea. Given that the dictator of that model's titular country was stabbed repeatedly in the butthole and savagely murdered by his own people, North Korea was pretty eager to call off the meeting after that statement.
However, Trump's habit of contradicting his senior staff on a whim actually paid off for him in this case, and served to turn the talks of a meeting back around. The fact that the POTUS is no longer using Twitter as a platform to brag about the size of his 'button,' and is actually meeting with his former nemesis is something.
With all of the reports about this meeting still rolling in, it's hard to say what the result will be. There are reports saying that the two leaders signed an agreement about working to “build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.” There's even a line about “working toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” being reported, though there's no timeline or details beyond that.
The bad news is that there seems to be very little chance of this interlude in saber rattling amounting to anything even approaching North Korea actually disarming (and not just because of the whole Gaddafi-butthole thing).
Trump recently announced hefty tariffs on steel coming from our own allies, pulled the US out of The Paris Climate Accord and The Iran Deal, and has continued America's bombing frenzy in the middle east; despite running on a non-interventionist platform. These are just a few of the things that are likely to keep North Korea from enthusiastically embracing the veracity of any deals that the Trump team may try to serve up. They haven't exactly been the most sturdy bunch when it comes to following through on their promises (just ask all of those former Harley employees). But the truth is, Un already got what he wanted anyway.
Kim Jong Un assumed his role as The Supreme Leader of North Korea in 2011 after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. Unlike his father though, Un doesn't seem to be satisfied by simply being a dictator who forces all of his subjects to deify him without relent. Kim wants to be taken seriously as a world leader.
By getting the President of The United States to travel thousands of miles to meet him in a country that Trump is sure to regard as a 'shithole,' Un has managed to get himself into a position that has long been out of his reach. All of this in the same week as the G7 Summit, and the Trump Administration feigning shock at Canada's stereotypically polite, but frustrated response to the sudden tariffs they've been hit with, there's a good chance that Un was shown more deference by Trump than has been afforded our own allies. Especially with Trump stating that he and Un share a “special bond.”
I'm sure by now any MAGA guys who are still reading this have sufficiently lost their minds, falsely presuming that I'm rooting for this summit to fail. I'm not. I would love to see North Korea join the portion of the world that believes in human rights and doesn't feel the overwhelming compulsion to threaten nuclear action every time something sails by. But my realism is overriding my optimism on this one.
Dictators are pretty renowned for their ability to resist being wooed to the peace table. Some measure of their power has to be relented, and this can be a tough sell. Especially for someone like Un, who has spent so much time and energy trying to convince his subjects that he is a literal god. Now, what kind of a 'god' is going to bend the knee in exchange for anything?
Then there's the issue of the hapless gang that Trump has surrounded himself with. Between Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and the aforementioned John Bolton, there's a pretty reliable history of feet going squarely into mouths. It's anyone's guess what one of them could say to derail this fragile alliance between Un and lucidity, but if anyone can do it, it's this group.
In the end, I truly hope that North Korea comes around, and that this amounts to something more than just glad-handing and pageantry. But I have serious doubts. It's much more likely that Trump has just proven himself to be a useful idiot in Kim Jong Un's race to global legitimacy. This elevation of NK's status coupled with the POTUS's mad-dash to alienate all of our long standing allies, has a much better chance of ending in US isolation and long term detriment for its people.
I hope like hell that I'm wrong.