Saturday, May 12, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He went out of his way to praise North Korea for something objectively bad.

This afternoon, Trump took to Twitter to praise the "very smart" and "gracious" Kim Jong-un regime for its promise to "dismantle" its nuclear test site. North Korea's announcement included splashy details about how foreign journalists would be invited in to monitor its destruction.

It has been widely reported for months that North Korea's final, conclusive test effectively destroyed the mountain that housed the test site. It is an absolute certainty that Trump was made aware of this; it's not clear if he remembered when he made this tweet that there was really no test site left to "dismantle."

Trump is increasingly relying on good news out of his overtures to North Korea--or, at least, something that looks like good news in the short term. This, in turn, has given North Korea a great deal of leverage over Trump personally. This makes it difficult to tell if Trump is simply propagandizing on North Korea's behalf, or whether it is simply a question of North Korea taking advantage of his incredible and universally known weakness to flattery.

Why is this a bad thing?

  • Praise for brutal, nuclear-armed authoritarian regimes should be saved for when they actually do something good.
  • The security of the United States of America is more important than a PR victory for its president.
  • It's bad if the president believes obviously false North Korean propaganda--or even just pretends to.