I’m as anxious as anyone for the final removal of all nuclear weapons not only from the Korean Peninsula but from Planet Earth. And though I am constitutionally and irreversibly opposed to the current President and his cadre of goons, if Trump were somehow able to pull it off, I would (reluctantly) congratulate him. But before we offer him the Nobel Peace Prize we need to take a step back and look at what just happened in Singapore.
It is true that Kim agreed to halt nuclear testing before Trump agreed to meet with him. But that was not a concession on Kim’s part; his nuclear test site at Mantapsan Mountain collapsed during the last test and was no longer usable. He couldn’t do nuclear testing if he wanted to. It was then that Kim was struck by reasonableness and announced a halt to his nuclear testing, and it was only then that he started playing nice with the South, and eventually with the Donald. Let’s be clear: Trump didn’t cause the mountain to collapse. And Kim hasn’t made any moves beyond vague promises toward getting rid of the nukes he already possesses.
Trump supporters and allies want to believe that Kim was terrified by Trump’s tough talk. I imagine there is giddiness throughout Trumpistan over his stated definition of the Trump Doctrine: “We’re America, Bitch!” And he did indeed present to the world the image of an out of control madman with his finger on his “bigger” nuclear button, but I’m pretty sure most of the concern generated by his rabid posturing was felt in the West.
Let’s look a little closer at what’s actually in the agreement. Reported in the Washington Post, “Bruce Klinger, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation and a well-respected expert on these matters, wrote on Twitter early Tuesday: ‘This is very disappointing. Each of the four main points was in previous documents with NK, some in a stronger, more encompassing way. The denuke bullet is weaker than the Six Party Talks language.'”
Kim gets a huge PR win by meeting with the President of the United States, and he got a promise from China to ease sanctions, which they were never really in favor of anyway and probably didn’t enforce very hard. Trump essentially slapped our steadfast ally South Korea in the face by promising to end joint military exercises. So much for security guarantees. That’s another big political win for Kim.
In return, Trump will get a PR boost with his base, but that’s hardly an accomplishment. Fox News could report that Trump just took a satisfying dump and his followers would fawn about how virile he is. In addition, he won the media stamp of approval on his wrecking ball approach to diplomacy, and he won another day of complicit silence from the Republican sheep in Congress.
Pretty much everybody else realizes Trump got nothing substantial from Kim. He got a promise that Kim would “work toward” denuclearization. That’s cool. I’m currently “working toward” becoming an astronaut. Deadline? Let’s just say you better not hold your breath.
In the end, we are left with the spectacle of the President making sweet media love to an evil dictator just after telling our traditional allies (including South Korea) to go fuck themselves. Of course, he, and his minions, will claim victory. Sort of like Neville Chamberlain did when he returned from Munich.
Misguided though he may have been, at least Chamberlain was earnest about trying to make peace. To Trump, this is not about diplomacy, it’s about ratings. It’s another gaudy episode of an already awful reality tv series.