Sunday, June 17, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He said that giving North Korea exactly the military concessions it wanted had been his idea--and it's possible he's telling the truth.

Since returning from his meeting with Kim Jong-un in Singapore, Trump has been visibly anxious that he's not getting the praise he thinks he deserves for it. The main and most obvious criticism of the summit has been that it was an unnecessary capitulation to North Korean nuclear pressure, and that it gave the Kim regime concessions while getting nothing more than vague promises in return.

This morning, Trump once again took to Twitter to explain himself and demand that people appreciate him. He brushed off complaints that having the President of the United States meet with a rogue state dictator on the dictator's terms had any cost. 

In the same tweet, Trump said the U.S. had gotten back its "hostages/remains." This is a lie. North Korea routinely takes Western hostages in order to extort concessions from enemy governments, but the summit was by far the biggest prize they have ever gotten for them. No human remains from Americans killed in action have been returned since the summit and no concrete plans have been announced.

The most shocking part came in the next tweet, in which Trump insisted that canceling joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises--which Trump and North Korea call "war games"--was his idea. Ending the exercises amounts to a major step in reducing the American military presence in the region, to the benefit of not only the Kim regime but also Russia and China

But it's possible Trump is telling the truth. All indications are that South Korea and Trump's own Defense Department were both completely blindsided by Trump making the offer--and even North Korea seemed astonished by their good fortune.

Why does this matter?

  • If you give something to get nothing, you have made a bad deal.
  • If giving something to get nothing was your idea, you are too incompetent to be making deals.
  • How much praise Donald Trump gets is actually the least important thing about any of this.