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Mike Littwin

"The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles."

Short take: Littwin on Trump, Kim, denuclearization and — surprise — Cory Gardner

Short take: Littwin on Trump, Kim, denuclearization and — surprise — Cory Gardner

The word of the day from pundit-world seems to be “snookered,” which is being used to describe Donald Trump’s, uh, accomplishments in Singapore, where, to put it nicely, nothing really happened.

But I’d say snookered is the wrong word.

Trump didn’t care what kind of agreement or faux-agreement he got with his “very talented” friend, Kim Jung Un, with whom he now has an “excellent relationship.” Trump just wanted to show that he could pull off something that Obama didn’t while basking in the glow of nonstop TV news coverage.

And whatever Trump didn’t say about human rights or didn’t say about verifying denuclearization or didn’t say about what denuclearization even means, it was all overwhelmed by a handshake, by pomp, by circumstance, by the world’s first-ever denuclearization condo video and, not least, by a Trump fat joke.

Meanwhile, showing some diplomatic skills missing from the G-7 meeting, neither Trump nor any of his advisers suggested that Kim deserved a special place in hell, which is apparently reserved for desperately-in-need-of-warmth Canadians. Trump also didn’t call Kim a “low-IQ individual,” a description he saved for Robert De Niro.

Democrats and pundits predictably jumped on Trump for allowing the despotic Kim to take the world stage as an equal with the president of the United States and for signing a faux agreement that makes a joke of Trump having rejected the Iran agreement, which actually does set back the Iranian nuclear program.

But I’ll let Cory Gardner speak here, via Colorado Public Radio. Gardner, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and chair of the subcommittee on East Asia, often tells us of the advice he offers Trump in this area. 

Gardner calls it a “very thin agreement” and says that some Trump statements, especially about the war-game training exercises with South Korea, “need to be clarified.” Gardner adds that the human rights component must be addressed, noting, “There’s still 200,000 men and women in political gulags in North Korea. This should be a part of these conversations. North Korea will never be be welcomed, nor should they ever be welcomed into the (global community) as long as they fail to treat their people with the dignity and respect that international law requires.”

Later, Gardner said he had his clarification, tweeting that Pence told GOP senators that the “training exchanges will continue.” Except that a Pence spokesperson said that such reports are “false.” NBC later got a clarification saying that there will be routine training, but that there’s a “huge difference” between that and war games, leading Gardner to — you guessed it —  bravely switch to backpedal mode. It seems Pence did say, in fact, there wouldn’t be any more war games with South Korea, leaving Gardner at a loss for more tweets.

Sure, Trump might have given something away for nothing in order to get a worthless piece of paper,  but I have different take on the summit.

I’m glad Trump went. I figured Trump would praise Kim as he regularly praises autocrats, even, in this case, among the most vicious of them. I knew he would claim success regardless of what happened and that it was in Kim’s interest to do exactly the same. I wasn’t surprised that he had failed to inform South Korea about the war games. It’s what he does.

But I’d much rather Trump absurdly praised Kim in a face-to-face meeting than go back to his Little Rocket Man tweet-taunt days. I’m glad this means that Trump probably won’t attack North Korea in the coming days, weeks, maybe even months. I’d much rather have Trump and Kim saying they’ve moved toward agreement — whether they are or not — because,  in the short term anyway, that suggests we’re safer now than we were before the meeting. If Trump is trapped by his own desire for success, I’m all for him laying all the traps he can.

And in case you have any misunderstanding of what happened in Singapore, Trump made it clear enough in his post-meeting news conference. And this once, you can believe him.

Asked what he’d do if it turns out that Kim has snookered him, Trump said, “I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey, I was wrong.’ I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse.”

Oh, he will. Let’s just hope that it’s not attached to a missile.

 

Photo of US show of force in response to a 2017 North Korea missile launch by Robert Sullivan, via Flickr: Creative Commons

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About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
mlittwin@coloradoindependent.com | Twitter @mike_littwin

5 Comments

  1. CapitalistRoader on said:

    “Good afternoon. I am pleased that the United States and North Korea yesterday reached agreement on the text of a framework document on North Korea’s nuclear program. This agreement will help to achieve a longstanding and vital American objective: an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula.

    This agreement is good for the United States, good for our allies, and good for the safety of the entire world. It reduces the danger of the threat of nuclear spreading in the region. It’s a crucial step toward drawing North Korea into the global community…

    Today, after 16 months of intense and difficult negotiations with North Korea, we have completed an agreement that will make the United States, the Korean Peninsula, and the world safer. Under the agreement, North Korea has agreed to freeze its existing nuclear program and to accept international inspection of all existing facilities.”
    President William Jefferson Clinton, 18 Oct 1994

  2. T on said:

    Mike, I agree with you.
    As for that ambitious sycophant pipsqueak Gardner, someone should tell him charity and fixing human rights violations begin at home.

  3. john in denver on said:

    Richard M. Langworth says: “From my Definitive Wit of Winston Churchill, page 37: “Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war.” –1954 Commonly misquoted as ‘Jaw, jaw is better than war, war,’ an expression coined four years later by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, on a visit to Australia.”

    Now, if that process can simply take, say, 29 months, we can consider the outcomes.

    For what it is worth, Politico points out “As Trump signed a joint statement with Kim Jong Un that offered few details on how the North Korean leader would make good on his vow to denuclearize, Republicans on Capitol Hill said Tuesday that they want and expect the White House to submit any final agreement for their approval. And that means the president and his team will have to work overtime to sell it.”

  4. Don Lopez on said:

    Elections have consequences.

    “Hiding news that doesn’t fit an ideological or a partisan agenda is perhaps the worst form of media bias. And it’s one more reason the public holds the press is such low esteem.” – Investor’s Business Daily

    “(Mr. Trump) won’t be president. He was sliding in the polls before the video, and the video now means that he has no way to climb back. Which independent voter, which suburban woman, which Main Street Republican on the fence is going to vote for Trump now?” – Mike Littwin

    Magical thinking: The belief that one’s own thoughts, wishes, or desires can influence the external world. It is common in very young children. – Radiotherapy

    President Trump 306 Electoral votes
    Hillary Clinton 232

    #droptheMike

    }{

    It wasn’t that long ago—-August 12, 2017 to be exact—-when Mr. Littwin tried to convince readers, and maybe himself, that President Trump was pushing North Korea’s Kim Jong Un towards war: “And yet here is (President)Trump pushing Kim Jong Un toward (war), one locked-and-loaded tweet, one ill-considered ad lib, one double-down threat, one triple-down ultimatum at a time.”

    A war Mr. Littwin said, “would conclude with the end of Kim and the likely end of North Korea at a cost too terrible to imagine.”

    Compare that dire prediction with what Mr. Littwin admits today, “But I’d much rather (President) Trump absurdly praised Kim in a face-to-face meeting than go back to his Little Rocket Man tweet-taunt days. I’m glad this means that Trump probably won’t attack North Korea in the coming days, weeks, maybe even months. I’d much rather have Trump and Kim saying they’ve moved toward agreement — whether they are or not — because, in the short term anyway, that suggests we’re safer now than we were before the meeting.”.

    So despite Mr. Littwin’s stunning admission that he feels the United States and the world are “safer now than we were before the meeting”, Mr. Littwin incredibly believes, “in Singapore…….nothing really happened.”

    Nothing? Really? The world being safer now is nothing??? You can’t make that stuff up!

    To demonstrate how far Trump Derangement Syndrome has separated Mr. Littwin from reality there’s this from Haaretz.com:

    “Menachem Begin famously said, “The hardships of peace are preferable to the sufferings of war.” In this regard, the Singapore summit on Tuesday between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was welcome news for humanity. Two leaders who had threatened each other with nuclear holocaust only a few months ago met cordially, promised to improve relations between their two countries and committed themselves to peace. In a world in which image is often more significant than content, the Trump-Kim summit was an impressive achievement that might be seen one day as truly historic.”

    Let me repeat the last sentence from the above quote because it serves to illustrate just how badly partisan politics has warped Mr. Littwin’s view of, well, everything, “In a world in which image is often more significant than content, the Trump-Kim summit was an impressive achievement that might be seen one day as truly historic.”

    Even Senator Bernie Sanders, while admitting the summit was “very light on substance”, also said, “ the meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un in Singapore represents a positive step in de-escalating tensions between our countries, addressing the threat of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, and moving toward a more peaceful future,”

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who lives in Kim Jong Un’s neighborhood, “commended President Trump on Tuesday for his part in the Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, calling it a step toward a “comprehensive resolution” to denuclearize the rogue nation.”

    And Mr. Littwin has failed to explain how President Trump, a man he described as “a demagogue, a xenophobe, a misogynist, a bigot, a sexist, an authoritarian, a boor, a crypto-fascist and the least-prepared person ever to be nominated by a major party” was able to accomplish what Barack Obama couldn’t: a summit with North Korea.

    Flag Day – June 14th.

    November 08, 2016

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Flags of Valor
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation

  5. Harry on said:

    That Trump so easily gave this meeting to Kim Jung-un, thus granting him the desperately desired equal status denied to his father and grandfather by all previous presidents, merely proves how deeply Trump has diminished the stature of the office he currently occupies.

    That the Potemkin meeting was without content, with only one-sided concessions undercutting our allies and our military on the part of Trump, is not at all a surprise.

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