Sunday, October 14, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He repeated almost every lie or false belief he has about North Korea in one interview.

Trump appeared tonight on the CBS news program 60 Minutes in a pre-taped interview with Lesley Stahl. When the conversation turned to North Korea, Trump said almost nothing that was factually true.

Here was the heart of that exchange:
TRUMP:...And he doesn't wanna go to war, and we don't wanna go to war, and he understands denuclearization and he's agreed to it. And you see that, he's agreed to it. No missiles.
STAHL: Do you trust him?
TRUMP: Sure. I know. It's-- it's very true. But the fact is, I do trust [Kim Jong-un]. But we'll see what happens.
STAHL: But is it true that they haven't gotten rid of a single weapon, and they may actually be building more missiles-
TRUMP: They want to--
STAHL: With nuclear--
TRUMP: And I will tell you that they're closing up sites.
STAHL: But--
TRUMP: Setting it up.
STAHL: Is what I said true, that they haven't? Gotten--
TRUMP: Well, nobody really knows. I mean, people are saying that. I've actually said that.
STAHL: What? That they're still building missiles, more missiles?
TRUMP: We don't really know, Lesley. We really don't know. 
In spite of what he claimed tonight, Trump does know (or, at least, has been told) that the Kim regime has rapidly accelerated its missile program since their summit in June, building on its recent successful test of a missile that can probably reach the U.S. mainland.

In essence, Trump is claiming that the fact that North Korea hasn't tested a nuclear weapon since last September means that they are cooperating. But once a nuclear design has proved out in testing, it can be mass-produced and there is no need for further testing. (The same is true of missiles.)

For example, the United States has not tested a nuclear weapon since 1992--but it is still a nuclear power.

The other central lie here was that Kim had "understands denuclearization and [has] agreed to it." In reality, North Korea defines "denuclearization" very differently than the United States, and has "agreed" to nothing binding in any way. None of the concessions that Trump has made to North Korea have in any way led to a lessening of its nuclear attack capability.

Why is this a bad thing?

  • Presidents should not lie to the American public about a nuclear threat.
  • It's a bad idea to publicly declare your "trust" (much less your "love") for a nuclear-armed dictator who has constantly lied to you.