Monday, September 24, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He praised Kim Jong-un, although it's not clear why.

Trump was in New York today for United Nations meetings. Asked about North Korea, Trump said that Kim Jong-un had "been terrific" as a partner, and touted the "tremendous progress" he'd made. He said that he was "making more progress than anybody has made ever" with North Korea.

Since their June summit, at which Kim talked Trump into canceling joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises, North Korea has:
North Korea has used this strategy--demanding peace talks and then immediately reneging--in the past, but has not had much recent success with it until Trump took office. 

Even the one thing that Trump can point to as some kind of tangible benefit from the summit--the return of the remains of two U.S. servicemembers from the Korean war--was an old North Korean tactic in which human remains were used as leverage or, in effect, sold for cash to the United States. The George W. Bush administration put a stop to the practice in 2005.

Elaborating on his enthusiasm for a second summit meeting, Trump pointed out that Kim had sent him "a beautiful letter" but offered no further explanation.

Why is this a problem?

  • Giving something and getting nothing is not a good negotiating tactic.
  • The security of the United States where a hostile nuclear-armed dictatorship is concerned is more important than the president's political fortunes.
  • Trump may actually believe that he is making progress.