Trump’s embrace of Kim leaves much to be desired
It took just a few hours for Kim Jong Un to go from being one of the most brutal dictators in modern history to a prince of peace. Kim can thank President Donald J. Trump for the reincarnation.
Indeed, Trump was so effusive in his praise for the 34-year-old leader of one of the most impoverished nations on earth that we’re left to wonder what has changed since the president derided the North Korean dictator as “little rocket man.”
The administration wants the world to believe that Kim is bound and determined to dismantle his nuclear arsenal. However, there’s nothing in the joint statement issued Tuesday at the conclusion of their historic summit meeting in Singapore to suggest a firm commitment.
Indeed, the statement, signed by both leaders with much fanfare, mentions the need for complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but neither defines the terms, nor lays out a timeline for achieving the goals.
Trump, the first American president to meet with a North Korean head of state, conceded “it does take a long time” for denuclearization, which explains why Kim was given wiggle room for getting rid of his weaponry.
While the outcome of the summit was underwhelming given all the hype from the White House that preceded it, the images of the leaders shaking hands and sitting across the conference table from each other were noteworthy. After all, the United States and North Korea have been avowed enemies for more than half a century.
Indeed, just a few months ago, it appeared the two nations were on the verge of a military confrontation. Given North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and Trump’s mercurial personality, the stakes were extremely high.
It is to their credit that the president and the chairman were willing to diffuse the situation and ease tensions.
The fact that the two men who had exchanged public insults not so long ago – Kim called Trump a ”mentally deranged U.S. dotard” – actually spent several hours together and departed on good terms is a positive outcome of the summit.
However, the future is uncertain at best.
The president said denuclearization talks will occur, and he held out an olive branch to Kim to ensure the North Korean leader doesn’t go back on his word the way he has done in the past. It isn’t the first time he has committed to getting rid of his nuclear weapons and their delivery systems.
Trump dropped a political bombshell of sorts when he announced that the United States would halt military exercises with South Korea. The president cited the high cost of the exercises and also said it would be inappropriate for such a display of military power in the midst of negotiations with North Korea.
The North has long objected to the drills as a security threat.
But while Trump and Kim are reveling in their newly found relationship, North Korea’s atrocious human-rights record remains a dark cloud and a cause for concern.
Thousands of people have been killed, imprisoned or sent to live in gulags because of their perceived opposition to the government in Pyongyang.
In addition, Kim’s reckless spending on the military has devastated the country’s economy. Pictures of children eating dirt due to a lack of food and suffering debilitating illnesses because of a shortage of medicine have shown Kim to be the epitome of evil.
And yet President Trump called him a “talented man” who “loves his country very much.”
It should be noted that Kim ordered the public assassination of his half-brother with a nerve agent and the execution of his uncle by firing squad.
Here’s what the Associated Press reported with regard to Trump’s praise for the heartless leader:
“The U.S. president brushed off questions about his public embrace of the autocrat whose people have been oppressed for decades. He added that Otto Warmbier, an American who died last years just days after his release from imprisonment in North Korea ‘did not die in vain’ because his death helped bring about the nuclear talks.”
There is little to indicate that Trump pressed the issue of Kim’s brutality during the summit.
Little wonder the leader of North Korea was smiling so broadly as he departed Singapore.