Guest column: No, not Nixon, not China
June 14, 2018
Big success, no nuclear war! He saved 50 million lives! Thank you, Dear Leader! Like unlikely Nixon opening China, clever Trump has bested North Korea!
Um … turns out that first Trump engaged in juvenile taunting of "Little Rocket Man," threatening "fire and fury" in the worst nuclear brinksmanship the world has seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. To manufacture a crisis and then claim to fix it is adolescent.
Fortunately for the fate of the world, Kim Jong Un decided it was an opportunity to make serious gains for his iron rule and played Trump like the Nero fiddle he is. After more than 65 years of waiting for it, North Korea has fooled a foolish US leader into believing that it's all good, no worries.
At some level, Trump has done all the right things for many uninformed and stupid reasons, but he's done so with a narcissistic idiocy that will lead to even worse brutality and harsh poverty for North Korean citizens and zero decrease in potential existential threat to South Korea, Japan, and even those of us on the west coast of the U.S.
Trump doesn't mind losing the liberal Pacific Northwest, nor California. He never liked our side of the country anyhow. Picture him on a horse. Say ouch for the horse. Picture him on a surfboard. Kerflop. Nuke us very much, right? And the hell with Hawaii, just a competitor of Florida. Wipe 'em out.
The problems (and lies)with Trump's proclaimed victory:
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1. The wording of the Trump-Kim agreement is more vague than any other such agreement reached by past U.S. presidents with North Korea (and Trump just buck-naked lied about those agreements compared to his).
2. North Korea is not being asked to submit to inspections, which is the absolute key to denuclearization.
Yes, other analysts have declared other problems, such as the danger to South Korea of ending the war exercises that presumably prevented war. This is a dubious assertion in that 28,000 permanent troops and annual massive threats do not in any way reduce the North Korean desire for nuclear weapons; indeed, they drove it.
So, even if Kim played Trump, that is a good thing for the world if a way could be found to actually hold Kim to his vague commitment to denuclearization, and if Kim could get less hysterical because the Pentagon wasn't bellied up to his borders all bristling with guns and bombs and mines and nukes.
Where it's going to fail is that Kim anticipates Trump, and Trump is clueless about that. Normally, a U.S. negotiator would have experts around to press the No Go button, but Trump has such an obdurate narcissistic hyperbolic opinion of his own expertise (Dude, you can't even remember the words to America the Beautiful, STFU for once) that he met alone with Kim for hours, with only translators in the room. So Kim is now a Big Deal World Figure, all over the planet's press, on everyone's big and little screens, and he's gotten his own Little Fat Man Narcissist Reward, plus he got concessions from the bozo in the White House without making any of his own except the same hollow promises his dad and grandfather made to other less credulous US presidents.
I will make only one prediction: the Nobel Peace Prize committee will emphatically not offer that to Trump nor Kim. OK, one more: by the early 2020s, Kim will still have nukes. He knows exactly what Bolton and Pence mean when they say it's gonna be the Libya option and he has, in his mind, exactly one way to prevent that hideous fate — keep his nuclear option.
Trump naively believes, or would have us believe, that he is such an amazing dealmaker that he's got Kim disarming. Not. Going. To. Happen. Kim just watched Trump flip and break a seriously negotiated deal with Iran for their nukes.
Kim will never give up that which he has for some piece of flammable paper. He is now the big cat with mousey Trump between his paws and he's in a playful mood.
Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice director and on occasion an expert witness for the defense in court.