Littwin: Would a Trump-Kim chat really be more dangerous than where we are today?

To no one’s surprise, Cory Gardner is semi-alarmed by the news that Donald Trump has accepted an invitation for direct talks with North Korea’s Little Rocket Man. Bashing the eminently-bashable North Korea dictator is among Gardner’s favorite pastimes.

And so, Gardner has sent the president a letter. He has fired off a tweetstorm. In an appearance on “CBS This Morning,” Gardner noted that he was skeptical of the value of talks, saying. “Certainly it’s positive but we have to take this sign, this gesture to talk, not only with a grain of salt but with perhaps an entire salt block.”

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Gardner goes further, warning that if there’s a meeting that fails to bring home a nuclear deal, it would mean a “new red line” had been crossed and, with that, a greater chance for war.

“If the result of this meeting is not verifiable concrete steps to denuclearization, than it will be a failure, and then the president is going to be under tremendous pressure because that new red line has been set to act,” Gardner said. “Because if the meeting with the president of the United States doesn’t achieve this result, what is left of diplomacy?”

And while I agree that a meeting wouldn’t accomplish anything solid — if there’s anything we’ve learned during the Trump era, it’s that his reputation as deal-maker is his biggest lie yet — and that the danger is great, with or without a meeting, I have an idea the meeting possibly could turn out to be productive, salt block or no.

I know I’m in the minority here. It seems that most foreign-policy experts are, well, concerned by the prospect, while others warn that such a meeting without any groundwork in place would be counterproductive (read: idiotic). Dennis Rodman, on the other hand, thinks it’s a great idea, so there’s that.

The basic question is this: Why give an entirely unreliable serial human-rights abuser like Kim Jong-Un what he most desires — the international stature that would come with this meeting — without some real assurance that North Korea, which has a long habit of breaking all agreements with the United States, is actually prepared to make an honest deal? (Update: Sarah Sanders says there will be no meeting unless concrete steps are taken. She said this after, of course, Trump had accepted the meeting with, as far as we know, no preconditions.)

Trump’s own Secretary of State (so far) Rex Tillerson, who apparently knew nothing of Trump’s decision, describes the would-be meeting as “talks” as opposed to “negotiations,” meaning, presumably, that instead of negotiating, say, nuclear weapons, you talk about common interests, like, say, military parades.

Trump himself has routinely mocked the idea of talking with Kim, but, of course, it is always easy to find earlier Trump tweets that contradict anything he tweets in the meantime.

And the dangers? If North Korea is willing to meet while foregoing nuclear testing and missile testing, that could mean they don’t need to test any more. As Max Boot writes in The Washington Post, the moratorium could mean they’re busily working on how to fit a nuclear warhead on an ICBM while preliminary negotiations for chatting are ongoing. And then there’s the concern that Trump, who doesn’t even have a Korea foreign-policy team in place, could accept a deal — good, bad or otherwise — if he thinks it makes him look better than his predecessors who couldn’t resolve the Korea situation.

But here’s why I think the meeting is a good idea. We know of Trump’s affection for dictators. In just the latest example, Trump praised China premier Xi Jinping’s bid to make himself leader for life. As he said at a Mar-a-Lago fundraiser, “He’s now president for life. President for life. And he’s great … Maybe we’ll give that a shot someday.”

Presumably Trump was kidding about the last part, but when the leader of the free world praises the ideal of dictatorship, it should give one pause. But it’s for that very reason I think the Kim-Trump talks could come off well.

If you think the very worst thing that could happen in the ongoing North Korea crisis is that we get involved in a fire-and-fury war — with tens of thousands or tens of millions estimated to die — it’s more than possible that Trump walks away from a meeting saying that he and Kim are friends, better friends than anyone can know, and that no one has ever been treated better than Kim has treated Trump.

Obviously, the meeting could be a disaster. Obviously, Trump, who has no idea what he’s doing, could get played or he could get mad or, if history is any guide, could do anything. I doubt there would be a real deal, but, in the best case, there’s some small chance for an understanding. I mean, it’s conceivable that after a face-to-face, Trump could agree to start calling Kim Big Rocket Man, and who knows where negotiations could go from there.

Public domain photo by Robert Sullivan via Flickr: Creative Commons.  North Korean leader Kim Jong Un poses for pictures with female pilots as he provides field guidance to the flight drill of female pilots of pursuit planes of the KPA Air and Anti-Air Force in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 28, 2014. REUTERS/KCNA

7 COMMENTS

  1. 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

    }{

    The degree of difficulty assigned to Mr. Littwin’s latest flip-flop is so high it’s never been seen before and likely will never be seen again. Ever!

    To those who believe that in 2016 Mr. Littwin set the standard for political ineptness after predicting—-ad nauseam—-that there was absolutely, positively, categorically no way Donald J. Trump would become the 45th President of the United States, well, he just raised the bar.

    After mocking Senator Gardner for expressing his very consistent anti-North Korea stance to President Trump, Mr. Littwin—-without acknowledging any of his previous conflicting opinions on President Trump and North Korea —-delivers his latest, but certainly not his last, epic flip-flop: “I have an idea the meeting (between President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un) possibly could turn out to be productive”.

    To give readers an idea of the distance Mr. Littwin traveled to reach that did-he-really-say-it conclusion here’s a little background. This is what Mr. Littwin wrote about President Trump and North Korea prior to his staggering, you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up reversal :

    – “It’s time to move past all the locked-and-loaded psychoanalysis of the president and all the commentary on his immature bluster and all the annotated absurdities of his Thursday news conference/photo op and even past the dashed hopes of anyone foolish enough to believe John Kelly would be a positive influence, or any kind of influence, in the Oval Office.

    – “ Trump set the stage with his rainy-vacation-day “fire and fury” ad lib that threatened something terrible, something the world has never seen, if North Korea continued to threaten the United States and its allies. The problem, of course, is that North Korea’s entire foreign policy is built on making bizarre yet unfulfilled threats while also making real nukes with real missiles to carry them.

    – “And so, with Trump’s ill-considered red-line warning about threats, Kim Jong Un responded by threatening to bomb the waters around Guam. And before you knew it, Trump was saying that “fire and fury” wasn’t tough enough and then he was tweeting out photos of America might as if anyone doubted America’s might.

    – “A nuclear war may be unthinkable, but a nuclear North Korea is a reality. And yet here is Trump pushing Kim Jong Un toward that very choice (humiliating defeat or a nuclear war), one locked-and-loaded tweet, one ill-considered ad lib, one double-down threat, one triple-down ultimatum at a time.”

    What you won’t find in Mr. Littwin’s pessimistic, bleaker than bleak, despondent, it’s-all-President-Trump’s-fault assessment of US-North Korea relations is the possibility that President Trump’s approach to North Korea could lead to peace talks. Until, of course, March 9th.

    You can now add foreign policy to the list of things Mr. Littwin knows nothing about.

    Unbelievable stat: Prior to March 9th Mr. Littwin went 13 days and 3 columns without mentioning President Trump. Congratulations!

    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

  2. Breaking news, hot off the press…489 days ago Trump won the Presidential Election. Couple that with a premature celebration about peace with North Korea, when the process has just begun and will most likely fail.

    Two pro tips for “Don Lopez”:
    1) Get some new material
    2) Things are not that simple

  3. Jim,

    Are you qualified to give pro tips?

    Why did you put my name in quotes?

    What “things are not that simple”?

    Did you read the comment above yours?

    No need for new material when this material works so well. Especially on you.

  4. Jim,

    You don’t think Don Lopez is my real name?

    If so, how much money are you willing to wager?

    By the way, what’s your last name?

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