Monday, June 11, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He read from his post-meeting talking points before the meeting. 

On the day that Trump let North Korea accomplish one of its major long-term policy goals--a peer-to-peer meeting with the President of the United States--Trump declared that his meeting with Kim Jong-Un was "tremendously successful."

Previously, Trump had insisted that he didn't need to spend any time preparing for the summit because he would be able to "feel" whether Kim was a serious partner "within the first minute." But before the two had had a chance to do more than shake hands and say hello, Trump had apparently decided he'd seen enough to declare victory. Asked by a reporter how he felt, he said, "I feel really great. We're going to have a great discussion, and I think, tremendous success. It'll be tremendously successful. It's my honor, and we will have a terrific relationship, I have no doubt."

Trump and Kim's first meeting will be entirely alone (except for translators), a move that has alarmed experts on the situation. Trump has fallen into the trap of meeting alone with foreign leaders before, which carries with it enormous strategic risks and can even endanger national security. 

But in this case, the absence of other US officials carries a political advantage for Trump. Without anyone to contradict him, and with no record made, Trump can declare success, escape on an early flight out, and then decide at his leisure why it was a success.

Why does this matter?

  • The President of the United States is supposed to represent the interests of the country abroad, not his own.
  • Negotiations that cannot possibly accomplish the one thing that matters to the United States cannot be "tremendously successful."
  • Reality does not change itself to fit what a president says he hopes it will be.