Saturday, April 13, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He retreated to the comfort of his "excellent" relationship with Kim Jong-un.

In a recent speech to his national assembly, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un said that he would be willing to hold yet another summit with Trump, but only "[i]f the U.S. adopts a correct posture and comes forward for the third DPRK-U.S. summit with a certain methodology that can be shared with us." 

Kim added that both countries would need to set aside their unilateral demands—but then immediately claimed that North Korea had already done so by pausing its nuclear testing program.

Loosely translated from the sometimes confusing language that North Korea tends to use in formal statements, Kim was saying that the United States would need to make even more concessions before it would consider giving Trump the political favor of another summit.

This puts Trump in an awkward position, because he has already endorsed Kim's "concession" by claiming it as his own personal triumph. In reality, North Korea is no longer testing nuclear weapons because it has proved it has a working design.

Trump—who may genuinely believe he has made a personal connection with a man who has ordered the murder of the families of perceived political enemies—apparently felt he had little choice but to agree with Kim. He responded by tweeting this morning about the "very good" or "excellent" state of their personal relationship, and gushed about the "extraordinary growth, economic success, and riches" that "Chairman Kim" was leading his country to. 

Why does this matter?

  • It's bad if the dictator of a hostile nuclear power has political leverage over the president.