Monday, July 9, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He got very, very confused about North Korea.

Last week, Mike Pompeo had a disastrous follow-up visit to Pyongyang after the relatively good publicity Trump basked in during the June summit. Kim Jong-un refused to meet with Pompeo, North Korea offered no concessions in exchange for the ground the United States already surrendered during Trump's visit, and called the United States "cancerous" and "gangster-like."

It was, in short, exactly what most North Korea experts had predicted would happen yet again: the Kim regime would get what it could in the way of concessions, then immediately accuse the United States of bad faith.

This morning, in an apparent effort to salvage matters, Trump posted this to Twitter:
There are several important errors or lies in this tweet.

  • Trump and Kim did not sign a contract, or anything remotely like one. It was a generic statement written well before any actual contact between Trump and Kim, and is binding on neither country.
  • The actual text of the "contract" promises that North Korea will "work towards" the "complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," not just North Korea. Even if North Korea interpreted "denuclearization" to mean giving up their existing arsenal--and Kim has openly rejected this, which is why the document does not define the term--it would also mean removing American forces from South Korea, the overall military goal of the Kim regime. 
However, Trump is right about one thing: China has its own agenda where North Korea is concerned, as evidenced by the fact that when Trump made his stunning offer to cancel joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises, China announced it before Trump's own military leaders or South Korea knew it was happening.

Why does this matter?

  • A president who cares more about good press than actually dealing with a nuclear threat to the United States is derelict in his duty.
  • Defending the United States of America is not a job the president gets to outsource to China.
  • If Trump believes any of what he said in this tweet, he is dangerously incompetent.
  • If he doesn't believe it, he's lying to the American people about a serious threat.