Thursday, March 8, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He handed North Korea a massive propaganda victory.

Trump agreed today to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, after teasing the revelation like a reality show twist by giving a cryptic statement to reporters about a "major announcement" earlier in the day. If the meeting actually happens, it would be the first time a sitting U.S. president met with a North Korean leader.

There is a reason for that, as experts were quick to point out. North Korea has made such a meeting a top priority since at least the Clinton administration. It would send a message--both for internal propaganda and diplomatic purposes--that the military might of North Korea had finally forced the United States to treat it as an equal.

In 2009, the regime of Kim Jong-Il insisted that the United States send former president Bill Clinton to "negotiate" for the release of two American journalists being held captive. Wary of giving North Korea even this miniature version of their long-sought "summit" with a U.S. President, the normally gregarious Clinton sat stony-faced through a series of photo shoots alongside Kim Jong-Il.

Trump's sudden decision to accept Kim Jong-Un's offer comes at a time when his own choice for the vacant South Korean ambassadorship torpedoed his own nomination by criticizing Trump, and the leading US negotiator with North Korea has just quit. 

Why should I care about this?

  • There is more to diplomacy than giving an enemy nation whatever it wants.
  • The nuclear security of the United States and its allies is more important than banner headlines.
  • A president who acts this impulsively on issues this big, without consulting allies or experts, is incompetent or worse.