Historic Snooker

 

The headline writers adore the word “historic.” It was ubiquitous in reporting on the April meeting between Kim Jung Un and Moon Jae-in. Kim shook Moon’s hand and then guided him over the military demarcation line to step onto North Korean territory. This prompted swoons. What rot. If that was a bona fide gesture of peaceful intent, time will tell. In the meantime, let’s assume it was a stunt.

So too with the summit between Kim Jung Un and Donald Trump, though in this case the media hype couldn’t compete with Mr. Trump’s own. He has basked in talk of a Nobel Peace Prize and predicted that he and the butcher of Pyongyang were “going to have a great discussion and a terrific relationship.” Obviously panting for a meeting, Trump was reportedly livid with National Security Advisor John Bolton, whose May comments about a “Libya solution” to the nuclear weapons problem apparently spooked Kim into withdrawing from the summit. Trump insisted that it was he who canceled, just as he did with the Philadelphia Eagles’ White House visit.

But he showed quite a lot of ankle in his note. “I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me,” he cooed, closing with words conceding that it was Kim, not Trump, who had actually canceled. “If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write.” Kim reeled in his catch. He sent an oversized letter Trump could pose with, grinning like a winner of the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes.

Why is our president smiling? You can always argue that democratic leaders must treat with dictators and even villains of various stripes for the sake of winning a war or securing the peace. You can even argue that sometimes presidents flatter unsavory leaders to build trust and ease tensions. But no historical comparisons can illuminate Trump’s ricochets between hysterical threats (“fire and fury”) and pusillanimous praise (“very talented”) without any substantive change on the part of the dictator. What has changed since the State of the Union address in which Trump honored the memory of Otto Warmbier and detailed the atrocities of the North Korean regime? In gratitude for the exchange of pleasantries, the release of a few hostages, and vague offers of “denuclearization” Trump has made himself Kim’s doormat.

As a matter of substance, the Singapore summit achieved less than nothing. It was a profound defeat for U.S. world influence and for democratic decency, arguably the worst summit outcome since Yalta. Kim promised to consider “denuclearization,” exactly as his father and grandfather had done repeatedly over the past several decades – breaking their promises each and every time. For this puff of cotton candy, Trump agreed to halt “U.S. war games” (using the North Korean term for joint military exercises with South Korea) which Trump himself called provocative! He invited Kim to the White House. He also issued the risible tweet announcing, ahem, peace in our time: “There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.”

It’s difficult to determine just how stupid Trump thinks the American people are. But there is no question that Trump’s affection for strongmen and thugs, evident before in his praise of the Chinese murderers of Tiananmen, and his warm words for Putin, Duterte, and Xi, has now extended to the worst tyrant/killer on the planet. Trump did far more than overlook Kim’s atrocious human rights abuses, he became Kim’s PR man.  “he’s a very talented man and I also learned he loves his country very much.” He has a “great personality” and is “very smart.”

Trump granted Kim’s legitimacy: “His country does love him. His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor.”

In 2014, a United Nations report concluded that North Korea’s crimes against humanity “entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.”

What of all that? Trump is understanding, even impressed. “Hey, he’s a tough guy. When you take over a country — a tough country, 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, I mean, that’s one in 10,000 that could do that. So he’s a very smart guy. He’s a great negotiator.”

What was Trump’s chief argument in 2016? The U.S. had been the victim of “bad deals,” with other countries and he was the great deal maker. He fingered the Iran deal as the worst deal in history. His defenders will excuse the truckling to Kim as a clever gambit to extract concessions. But Kim has offered absolutely nothing. All of the concessions have come from the United States, including the most crucial one – we’ve put ourselves on the same moral plane as North Korea. That’s what Make America Great Again has achieved.

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  1. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    The usual predictable tripe.

    • #1
  2. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    It was a profound defeat for U.S. world influence and for democratic decency, arguably the worst summit outcome since Yalta.

    Crystal ball?

    • #2
  3. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    Gee Mona, I don’t remember such a negative review from you about the Obama sellout to Iran, which clearly at a minimum bordered on treason and his subsequent illegal maneuverings to preserve and sell  his sellout.

    “Arguably the worst summit outcome since Yalta.”

    Well, I think this summit was the beginning of a process. We shall see where it leads. The outcome is to come. It can not and should not be assessed now. Kim has to decide what he is going to do. Trump has given him an option to improve his life and those of his people. We have to wait and see if he takes it. 

    • #3
  4. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Mona Charen: In 2014, a United Nations report concluded that North Korea’s crimes against humanity “entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.”

    OK Mona,

    Do you really want to play this card right now? Believe me, to get Kim this far we first convinced him that we would take out everything that moved including his artillery close to Seoul. Then we’d let the Chinese Army take him over from the North. The casualties wouldn’t have been that high, maybe 50,000 people, but nothing like on the scale of nuclear war. It wasn’t a bluff you understand but the truth. That’s why it worked.

    Trump put on this dog and pony show for him not to make a deal with him but to give him one last shot before he gets shot. You wanted us to pull the trigger early?! Well, if it isn’t Mrs General Ripper.

    War is too important to be left to the politicians, says Mrs General Ripper, especially if the politician involved is Donald Trump. Give me a break Mona and stop talking tough.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #4
  5. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    Mona Charen: we’ve put ourselves on the same moral plane as North Korea. That’s what Make America Great Again has achieved.

    Look there is a reasonable argument that Trump could have accomplished more,not world peace but more. He did get back prisoners. He did get North and South Korea (who were still technically at war) into peace discussions. He did get NK to stop talking about nuking the United States.  That is not a Grand Slam but it is not nothing. 

    By having a meeting with a bad person the United States is now on the same moral plane as NK? 

    By meeting with Castro and giving Castro legitimacy was the United States on the same moral plane as Cuba?

    Did Reagan put us on this plane when he meet with Soviet Leaders? Nixon in China?  Hoover met with Hitler. We have propped dictators in Egypt. We restored relationships with Qaddafi in Libya.   If world leaders meeting, and minor concessions, makes us the moral equivalent of the bad countries, then we have been there for decades. 

    • #5
  6. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    There’s a lot correct in this piece and a lot of doomsaying where patience is warranted. Should this eventually result in actual denuclearization then it is a triumph, and if it doesn’t then it is an abject failure. We simply won’t know for a while. 

    • #6
  7. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Unsk (View Comment):

    Gee Mona, I don’t remember such a negative review from you about the Obama sellout to Iran, which clearly at a minimum bordered on treason and his subsequent illegal maneuverings to preserve and sell his sellout.

    “Arguably the worst summit outcome since Yalta.”

    Well, I think this summit was the beginning of a process. We shall see where it leads. The outcome is to come. It can not and should not be assessed now. Kim has to decide what he is going to do. Trump has given him an option to improve his life and those of his people. We have to wait and see if he takes it.

    Look harder:

    https://www.creators.com/read/mona-charen/11/13/a-victory-for-iran

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2015/07/barack-obama-iran-deal-nuclear/

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2015/09/iran-deal-democrats-defense/

    • #7
  8. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Any Trump administration NK policy beats the he** out of the previous 30 years …

     

    • #8
  9. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Mona,

    Perhaps this is a boy-girl problem? Maybe this will help.

    Supreme executive authority is neutral. It doesn’t matter whether you are a man or a woman. No matter what you do it won’t be a walk in the park.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #9
  10. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):

    There’s a lot correct in this piece and a lot of doomsaying where patience is warranted. Should this eventually result in actual denuclearization then it is a triumph, and if it doesn’t then it is an abject failure. We simply won’t know for a while.

    Even without denuclearization, “abject failure” may be a tad harsh … Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak-song and Kim Sang Duk feel like it is already a success … a dream even.

    • #10
  11. Kevin Schulte Member
    Kevin Schulte
    @KevinSchulte

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):

    There’s a lot correct in this piece and a lot of doomsaying where patience is warranted. Should this eventually result in actual denuclearization then it is a triumph, and if it doesn’t then it is an abject failure. We simply won’t know for a while.

    So, if it doesn’t end  with Kim giving up his nukes , but opens up westernization of the north and diplomatic normalization with the south.  I would count that as a win.

    You wouldn’t ?  Meaning improvement of the current situation is an abject failure ?

    • #11
  12. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Mona Charen: Trump granted Kim’s legitimacy

    This is hilarious.  Kim has his own country.  It belongs to him, he inherited it from his father.   It has been in his family’s control way before Trump came on the scene as a political force.  You don’t get more normal than that.  Trump granted Kim nothing he did not have, except maybe officially recognized the reality of a situation that already exists.  Just like Trump did when as he moved the American Embassy to Israel and officially recognized the reality of that situation.  Maybe this is because Trump is not as much of a political animal as many.  He seems to have the common person’s view of the world and likes to call it accordingly.    

     

    • #12
  13. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    Mona Charen: In 2014, a United Nations report concluded that North Korea’s crimes against humanity “entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.”

    This reference to the 2014 report is somewhat dishonest. The report outlined a history of human rights violations going back to the founding of the country in the 1950s.  These same terrible issues existed and were known when Bill Clinton agreed to give NK food and fuel and lift economic sanctions and restore diplomatic relations. 

    North Korea has, since its founding, been a bad place. Various US Presidents including Bush, Clinton and Obama have tried various methods and made at least some concessions to resolve international issues. No President has been able to get denuclearizeation and an end to the threat to the region. None have really even tried to address the Human Rights violations. 

    Trump is trying a different strategy in being nice to the bad guy. Maybe it will work, who knows. I disagree that this destroys the morality of the United States. If Trump can bring some level of stability to the region and reduce the nuclear threat, he will have helped millions of people feel more secure. Since everything else from both parties and multiple Presidents has failed to control the situation, I would think the bar for success in this region is a little bit lower than in other areas. (Not because of Trump but for any future President as well)

    Trying to end a decades old war, and making a good faith attempt to stop a problematic nuclear power, would seem like a reasonable foreign policy for any President. This is not a bad idea just because Trump is President. 

    • #13
  14. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Mona Charen: He has basked in talk of a Nobel Peace Prize

    You really don’t get it?  Trump knows he is not going to get a Nobel Peace Prize, so do his supporters.  They understand it is a Left tool for virtual signalling thus why Obama got it just by existing.  Trump and his supporters are trolling the Left and having a bit of fun about it.  They know that if Obama did this same thing he would be getting the Nobel Peace Prize and are rubbing their hypocrisy in their face.   How you seem to not get this and instead seem to see this from the Lefts point of view is surprising.  You may want to let go of your hatred.  

    • #14
  15. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Columbo (View Comment):

    Any Trump administration NK policy beats the he** out of the previous 30 years …

     

    Based on what criteria? Your faith in Donald Trump? At least the Clinton administration had the decency not to gush like a school girl over the Dear Leader.  

     

     

    • #15
  16. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Jager (View Comment):

    Trying to end a decades old war, and making a good faith attempt to stop a problematic nuclear power, would seem like a reasonable foreign policy for any President. This is not a bad idea just because Trump is President. 

    Then why all the howling about the Iran deal and negotiations  under Obama, or the opening up of Cuba. Perhaps you supported both at the time, but generally I doubt that many people on the right did, who now seem to applaud the approach. Leaving one to wonder just what lack of principles guide the Republican party’s base? 

    Mona has been consistently against such casual outreach approaches, so at least we know where she stands, while Trump has been all over the place, and as usual stands for nothing but himself which is what his supporters like. 

    But lets put all of this aside. We want  to take the diplomatic approach to open up contact and improve relations with hostile dictatorial regimes. Does that require adopting their language regarding us, or giving their leader effusive and unqualified praise? I get not attacking the guy outright (as fair and honest as that would be), but do you have to brown nose him this much? I don’t think Chamberlain came back to England telling people what a one in ten thousand guy Hitler was. 

    • #16
  17. Kevin Schulte Member
    Kevin Schulte
    @KevinSchulte

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Then why all the howling about the Iran deal and negotiations under Obama, or the opening up of Cuba. Perhaps you supported both at the time, but generally I doubt that many people on the right did, who now seem to applaud the approach. Leaving one to wonder just what lack of principles guide the Republican party’s base? 

    Pallet of cash for one. Giving up all our chips in exchange for Death to the Great Satan and Israel and her little dog too ! 

    • #17
  18. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    After reading Ms. Charen’s screed, I think we ought to ask everyone to start with the Member’s Feed. I don’t think that Ms. Charen is so important that she should get to buck the line.

    So let’s require everyone to earn their twelve Likes and an editor’s promotion to the Main Feed.  What’s the downside?

    • #18
  19. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    You saw a different meeting and press conference than I did.    Yes President Trump’s ego may make him too enthusiastic about his accomplishments  but  the same personality characteristics that make you hate him, are precisely the ones  Kim has to take into account if he plans play Trump for a sucker.   I just can’t see that, any more than I could see Putin pulling for Trump against Hillary.    We’ve given up nothing in the hope of getting verifiable denuclearization, which is the only way we can avoid obliterating that country.  We  and the Japanese can’t live with a nuclear North Korea.  We do not want the Japanese to go nuclear nor other Asians that will feel compelled to follow.   I have great difficulty believing that Kim would give up his only leverage but if we start a generalized melt down on human rights with the President leading the way there is no hope.  This stuff is real.  It’s not just PR and spin  nor feel good righteousness.

    • #19
  20. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Jager (View Comment):

    Trying to end a decades old war, and making a good faith attempt to stop a problematic nuclear power, would seem like a reasonable foreign policy for any President. This is not a bad idea just because Trump is President.

    Then why all the howling about the Iran deal and negotiations under Obama, or the opening up of Cuba. Perhaps you supported both at the time, but generally I doubt that many people on the right did, who now seem to applaud the approach. Leaving one to wonder just what lack of principles guide the Republican party’s base?

    Mona has been consistently against such casual outreach approaches, so at least we know where she stands, while Trump has been all over the place, and as usual stands for nothing but himself which is what his supporters like.

    But lets put all of this aside. We want to take the diplomatic approach to open up contact and improve relations with hostile dictatorial regimes. Does that require adopting their language regarding us, or giving their leader effusive and unqualified praise? I get not attacking the guy outright (as fair and honest as that would be), but do you have to brown nose him this much? I don’t think Chamberlain came back to England telling people what a one in ten thousand guy Hitler was.

    I don’t see pallets of cash. Or sanctions that are lifted with normal travel arrangements or embassies. All I see is canceled military exercises that can be restored pretty quickly

    • #20
  21. danok1 Member
    danok1
    @danok1

    Mona Charen: National Security Advisor John Bolton, whose May comments about a “Libya solution” to the nuclear weapons problem apparently spooked Kim into withdrawing from the summit. Trump insisted that it was he who canceled, just as he did with the Philadelphia Eagles’ White House visit.

    Maybe my Google-fu is lacking, but exactly where was it reported that Kim actually cancelled the summit? I don’t dispute that the Norks were unhappy with Bolton’s remarks, but I can’t find any report of Kim cancelling.

    • #21
  22. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Mona Charen: What rot. If that was a bona fide gesture of peaceful intent, time will tell. In the meantime, let’s assume it was a stunt.

    As the engineer said while looking up at the malfunctioning guillotine, “I think I see your problem.” How about if we don’t assume in either direction, but watch what happens? It’s possible Kim is playing the West as his father and grandfather did. It is also possible he knows he is sitting on a time bomb he wants to find a way to defuse. It is also possible that both are true at once, that his intentions are not pure, but he wants to change things for real. We might know the truth in a week. We might not know it for fifty years. But to prejudge it as being on either side is a mistake at this point.

    • #22
  23. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    After reading Ms. Charen’s screed, I think we ought to require all writers to go through the process of having their posts put first on the Member’s Feed. Why is Ms. Charen so much more important than the rest of us?

    In fact, let’s put everyone’s posts on the Member’s Feed first and let them earn their twelve Likes and an editor’s promotion to the Main Feed. What’s the downside?

    I like the way you think, Kent. @exjon?

    • #23
  24. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):

    Any Trump administration NK policy beats the he** out of the previous 30 years …

     

    Based on what criteria? Your faith in Donald Trump? At least the Clinton administration had the decency not to gush like a school girl over the Dear Leader.

    We must of watched a different summit.

    My criteria are the words of Kim Dong Chul.

     

     

    • #24
  25. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    After reading Ms. Charen’s screed, I think we ought to require all writers to go through the process of having their posts put first on the Member’s Feed. Why is Ms. Charen so much more important than the rest of us?

    In fact, let’s put everyone’s posts on the Member’s Feed first and let them earn their twelve Likes and an editor’s promotion to the Main Feed. What’s the downside?

    I like the way you think, Kent. @exjon?

    Is the average member a talented enough writer to be published by major national publications? I know Ms Charon is. 

    • #25
  26. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    While it is too soon to assess exactly what will come of this, Mona got it right, as she usually does. There was absolutely no reason for Trump to gush like a school girl – as Valiuth put it – over this evil little runt. Has Trump no dignity – or decency? The man is a murderer, pure and simple. We may have to wait to see the final results of this, but our leader’s behavior does not give hope. If Obama had acted this way, the same people praising Trump would be crying impeachment.

    • #26
  27. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    Is the average member a talented enough writer to be published by major national publications?

    I don’t know if the “average” member is, but many of us are. Many “average” members here have been promoted to Contributor status. Some have gone on to write in other places as well.

    • #27
  28. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    George Townsend (View Comment):
    There was absolutely no reason for Trump to gush like a school girl – as Valiuth put it – over this evil little runt.

    May I suggest you listen to this? Mr. Klavan explains it from his own experience near the beginning of today’s show quite well. Trump is playing a very different game than is traditional at the State Department.

    • #28
  29. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):

    There’s a lot correct in this piece and a lot of doomsaying where patience is warranted. Should this eventually result in actual denuclearization then it is a triumph, and if it doesn’t then it is an abject failure. We simply won’t know for a while.

    Exactly.  It’s way too soon to know if this summit is the beginning of something real or just the old Kim family recipe handed down from grandpa.  And I get that this is diplomacy.  Of course President Trump cannot make a speech in Singapore denouncing Kim as an evil monster who deserves to be burned at the stake.  But I’m not wild about Trump’s demeanor, complimenting Kim on his toughness in handling his country.  When a war ends, war criminals may be pardoned of their crimes, but they aren’t usually praised for their ruthlessness.

    • #29
  30. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    It was a profound defeat for U.S. world influence and for democratic decency, arguably the worst summit outcome since Yalta.

    Crystal ball?

    Ever heard of Cuba?

    Ask the US diplomats in Cuba what the worst summit since Yalta might be, but apparently the US diplomats are now deaf.

    For more Cuba, what about John Kennedy and Khrushchev at the Vienna Summit which almost led to the end of the world with the Cuban Missile Crisis?

    Yalta?  And what country is that in?  Well, it depends upon which country’s version of googlemaps you are using. 

    (“President Trump reportedly told aides not to publicly promote a decision last year to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine to bolster the country’s fight against pro-Russia separatists.”)

    And what did Obama do?  He told Putin to “cut it out.”

    Mona is against Trump.  Gee, what a surprise!

    Trump has to fight the foreigners, the Democrats, and most of the Republicans.  That sounds like a fun job, although Trump might be one person to gain fuel from the hate and actually be up to the task.

    Sorry that you don’t seem to want the President of the United States to succeed.

    • #30

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