Is this what it’s come to? Prima donna Donnie T walks out on his grandiose summit, and even Republicans breathe a sigh of relief, counting it a victory that he didn’t sell us down the river and call it an ocean cruise.
Every day T’s minions are called upon to spin away his embarrassing statements and actions. Of course they’re relieved if he survives a confrontation with more competent, and similarly unprincipled, world leaders with his remaining hair intact. Success is no longer defined in terms of a contribution to positive, useful outcomes.
The Trumpshirts are boasting that T walked out because he was tough. Wouldn’t kowtow to Kim’s demands. John Wayne in a comb-over.
Tough like the bully who mumbles and shuffles away when he meets someone smarter and stronger.
After two “summits,” Kim reaps at least two major concessions from T, while in return we get — zilch.
The FBI employs “profilers” to figure out how an outlaw thinks, feels, and reacts, the better to anticipate his next moves, and perhaps manipulate him into a major error.
Kim has cadres of analysts who have developed similar insights into what makes T tick. T serves up his personality on a steaming platter every time he launches an oinkstorm in response to some trivial affront. He’s providing Kim a roadmap to success during the next two years.
T himself is notorious for dismissing both the findings of our intelligence agencies, and advice from his advisors. People in his camp have leaked their frustration over his lack of preparation, and his rejection of background briefings in the run-up to Hanoi. Check out a few revelations T’s own crew prepared in advance, but which he refused to entertain.
From the Pentagon’s Global Risk Assessment: “We continue to assess that North Korea is unlikely to give up all of its nuclear weapons and production capabilities, even as it seeks to negotiate partial denuclearization steps to obtain key U.S. and international concessions.” Kim is dangling denuclearization like a carrot, and T’s munching away.
The report continues “North Korea will continue its efforts to mitigate the effects of the U.S.-led pressure campaign, most notably through diplomatic engagement, counterpressure against the sanctions regime, and direct sanctions evasion.”
Dan Coates, Director of National Intelligence, chimes in, “The DPRK leadership has set securing the legitimacy and stability of its regime as the over-riding foreign policy goal. The fundamental problem is that the North Korean leadership is convinced it requires nuclear weapons to guarantee its own survival. The continued possession of nuclear weapons is absolutely essential to regime survival. Kim’s regime is exceptional as the one country able to survive the unrelenting hostility of a predatory United States through its hard power.”
So the first, and arguably the most important, goal of Kim’s overtures is to achieve parity, the role of Major Player on the world stage. Previous presidents from both parties realized this, and were not seduced into “summiting” Kim.
T lives in the eternal now; history is irrelevant, future consequences a matter of indifference unless they could afflict him personally, e.g. witch-hunts. What did matter to T was his appearance in the spotlight, where he trusted in his own fabulous prowess as grandstanding Grand Negotiator. Facts are just cumbersome baggage; a genius needs no prep.
T has finally gifted Kim with long-sought high-roller status. Kim has no intention of divesting himself of his most essential guarantee of national security.
But T rejected that reality from the start, and his subsequent actions reflect his failure to grasp it. For some reason, Kim keeps saying he needs to develop trust in T’s veracity and reliability. He insists on a step-wise approach to de-nuking, knowing very well he’ll never take the final steps.
To simulate good faith before the first summit, Kim showed reporters smoke billowing from underground passages after he “destroyed” an out-of-production nuclear facility, and paused his tests of weapons and the missiles to deliver them.
T naively took the bait, misreading these high-profile tokens as sincere commitments toward going nuke-free. Before the Hanoi summit, T graciously volunteered to suspend the major military exercises we conduct annually with South Korea, without consulting either his own officers or South Korea. Kim couldn’t believe his good luck — the exercises have long been a burr under his saddle. He offered nothing useful in return.
Kim’s weapons’ performance could use further testing, but we already know he can pop the big one. Precise accuracy is moot; fallout and fried electronics could still devastate our country. Got missiles? Boats can carry nukes into crowded harbors.
The “North Korea crisis,” as T represented it back when Kim was still Little Rocket Man, was fabricated. No imminent conflagration, no looming brink of war. T can’t claim credit for defusing a crisis, as he bragged later.
Kim needs to possess nukes for his own security, but he’s not suicidal. Detonate just one nuke on foreign soil, and North Korea will be obliterated. T doesn’t grasp the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction as a deterrent to nuclear exchanges. Kim does.
Now the military exercises have been cancelled outright, perhaps permanently, instead of being merely postponed.
Next time let’s explore the actual purpose of those exercises, and T’s rationalization for halting them, absurd in light of Kim’s conventional forces. We’ll also need to examine whether Kim’s sanctions “demands” really justified T’s walk-out.
Jon Hauxwell, MD, is a retired family physician who grew up in Stockton
and lives outside Hays.