SPEED DATING IN SINGAPORE

Trump’s Simplistic View of Diplomacy

What the world just witnessed in Singapore was the devaluation of reality. The bull in the china shop destroyed so much stemware and pottery that the United States will have to take out another loan to pay for it all. If I was a conspiracy theorist, I might suggest that the big summit between Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump didn’t really happen. But we saw it on TV, so it must have taken place. However, the final product of the event has less backbone than a jellyfish.

The Democrats asked, “Where’s the beef,” While the Trump loyalists were toasting, “Well, Trump did it!” Yes, he took a meeting with the Chairman of a totalitarian nation, who arrests, tortures, kills and enslaves his people, but that never stood in the way of the Donald’s ego. He thinks he will get the Noble Peace Prize for this made-for-TV event, but he failed to get anything of substance from this high-level meeting. It’s pure Trump; lots of talk, lots of words, little substance.

Trump walked away with a two-page letter saying we agree to reaffirm the talks to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. We still don’t know if Kim’s definition of denuclearization matches ours. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. goal of the meeting with the North Korean despot was to get “Permanent, verifiable, irreversible dismantling” of their nuclear war machine. Mike has now become frustrated with the fair questions concerning that very pronouncement.

When Pompeo, probably suffering from the new orange form of jetlag, was asked about the fact that his words were not in the two-page agreement both leaders signed, he cited the word “complete” and equated it to “permanent, verifiable, irreversible dismantling” of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. When pressed further, Pompeo barked, “I find that question insulting and ridiculous and, frankly, ludicrous. I just have to be honest with you. It’s a game and one ought not play games with serious matters like this.” Mike, Mike, we appreciate your being “honest” with us but, please, when you negotiate a complex disarmament agreement with another country, you should use precise legal verbiage. Right?

Since Trump returned from his speed-dating session with a dictator in Singapore, he has declared that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat. This, we guess, is based not on an agreement but on his perception of a five-hour meeting with Kim Jong-Un. Donald Trump destroyed relationships with members of the G-7 with insults and his lack of understanding about how trade works, and then dashed off to the big summit. He doesn’t have a solid grasp of diplomacy, so he wasted his time and millions of dollars on a giant photo-op.

Time will tell whether a pledge to start a dialog will indeed lead to peace, but there is good reason to cast skepticism over what happened in Singapore. By telling Kim that we would suspend all military activities with South Korea, we gave the autocrat a gigantic win, without getting diddley-squat in return. Trump also hinted that we might pull out all our troops from South Korea. Really? Why would we do that?

When confronted about some of the North Korean human rights violations, Trump replied with praise for Kim Jong-Un as a “tough guy,” a “smart guy” and a “great negotiator.” When Bret Baier of Fox News interviewed Trump following the denuclearization summit, our president declined to condemn North Korea’s record.

International bodies have accused Kim of crimes against humanity, including assassinations of political rivals, public executions and the imprisonment of tens of thousands political adversaries. Trump seems numb to real carnage.

The Donald disassociated Kim from those atrocities with, “Hey, when you take over a country, tough country, with tough people, and you take it over from your father, I don’t care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have – if you can do that at 27 years old, that’s one in 10,000 could do that.” I guess their first date went well, judging from Trump’s additional comment, “So he’s a very smart guy, he’s a great negotiator and I think we understand each other.”

Trump believes that everyone is like him and that flattering the other person is all that’s needed. When Trump says something that doesn’t get a response, he assumes he has won. Judging by what we know so far, Trump received a few words on paper, while America appears to have given more than we got. We all hope this is real but, judging by the reaction of Mike Pompeo to a few honest questions about the agreement, maybe the Secretary of State realizes that this is not as it appears.

Trump knows how to pull out of deals, but there is no evidence that he is competent with making pacts, agreements or peace treaties. Without good people like Pompeo, Trump would just be another fat, pompous politician with promises to keep. It’s not bad that he delivers on all his promises, but those promises are terribly destructive. He has made America less great. I am embarrassed by him.

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FIRE AND FURY

Calling Bluff at the Table

I’ve never been a good poker player lacking the special skills of bluffing, decoying and raising. We know that Kim Jong Un has made a pretty big move in his missile and nuclear program. Yesterday (8-8-2017) Trump raised the stakes with a war of words.

With this quote, Donald Trump seems to be putting on a squeeze and going all in, “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

It’s amazing to me that so many so-called “experts” on TV the day after (8-9-2017) Trump bombastic words were sprayed at North Korea, said that he wasn’t really sending a message to Kim Jong Un. Some claim he was endeavoring to shake the Chinese leaders out of their passive restraint of North Korea. Really?

One of the things we have covered on this site has been the negatives of being unpredictable and uncertain. Trump’s use of the term “fire and fury” was interpreted by most military people to mean nuclear war. You cannot drop an atomic bomb as a warning shot. We hope the Donald understands that.

After our President made such a harsh statement, North Korea didn’t wait too long to get its propaganda TV news team to blast a message back at Trump that they are seriously considering a strike against the island of Guam.

This island was selected as a strategic target. For one, most Americans don’t realize that since the Spanish-American War, Guam has been a territory of the United States. People born in Guam are automatically US citizens and our Andersen Air Force Base not only played a major role in the Vietnam War, but it is where the fighters come from that we’ve been using to “intimidate” Kim. To say you are thinking about attacking Guam is saying you will attack the United States.

The day after the Donald’s, arm-folded (defensive posture), “F & F” announcement, our great Orange Leader’s rhetoric was toned down on Twitter today (8-9-2017), “My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before. Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!”

While the President was trying to temper his own words, his Secretary of State returning to the mainland said that he doesn’t believe there is “any imminent threat” and added, “Americans should sleep well at night.” Unless he has plans to get Trump out of office, his request that I sleep well at night will have no effect. In a strange plot twist, the use of Tweeter was the more mature approach this time. We didn’t quite get teleprompter Trump, but the Twitter Trump was much calmer than Impromptu Trump.

The irony of this new crisis is that Trump was told by Obama before he left that this would be the new President’s most difficult challenge. And as someone mentioned on a talk-show last night, the days of a President, like Obama, doing nothing about the problem, sure seems now like a more reasonable approach. You see, there is quite a bit of history on how countries get nuclear power and then eventually atomic weapons. They just do it. When someone has the capability of using nuclear arsenal, you really don’t have much to say about it. It’s like an international 2nd Amendment.

What Trump is playing with, is not the lives of thousands of Americans who are live in South Korea, but the 25 million Koreans in Seoul, the capital. When approaching a madman with an atomic bomb, you probably shouldn’t act like a madman.

As I have stated before, if you look at Pakistan, with 140 nuclear bombs and their neighbor, India with 130 devices, you can see that a stalemate in the bomb business is all you can wish for. Once India got the A-bomb, Pakistan had to get their own collection. And the world stood by and watched them do it. How could you protest a country trying to defend itself?

North Korea, short of China and Russian moving troops and armament to the northern most border of Kim Jong Un’s domain, will get an atomic bomb. In fact, they already have one. They have never stopped aiming toward that goal. When you are a dictator, you usually do whatever you want. So, what is this all about?

Does this mean that South Korea will need to have 50, then 100, then 150 nukes just to keep up with the Un? We can send the whole U.S. Pacific Fleet to the waters around North Korea and wait. But what will we be waiting for? Trump, once again, is using the bully pulpit the wrong way. If the strategy is bad cop, good cop, with Tillerson playing the good cop, the international ramifications of the rhetoric gives this President the reputation of being all over the place. And sad to say, a person who appears to be unhinged.

The process of leading a great nation like the United States has never been easy. But this time, the tough businessman  has met his match. And we all hope and pray that the Orange wannabe General doesn’t do the wrong thing. War courts are the wrong place to brag about how successful you were in an election.