Sunday, June 30, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He gave Kim Jong-un another propaganda victory.

In a "surprise" move (that had been carefully planned in advance), Trump met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, and stepped briefly into North Korean territory. 

In doing so, Trump became the first sitting president to set foot on North Korean soil. Previously, only former presidents had visited North Korea—and then only to help secure the release of Americans held hostage there.

Trump long ago declared the North Korean problem solved, which means that Kim Jong-un has had enormous leverage over Trump's domestic political fortunes. This has allowed North Korea to evade sanctions, supercharge its missile development programs, and stockpile nuclear weapons where inspection teams couldn't find them—all with no hint of reprisal from Trump. 

The significance of today's meeting is that it gives the Kim regime yet another propaganda coup. Images of Kim Jong-un standing as a peer next to the president of the United States were plastered all over North Korean state-controlled media. (Link may be very slow.)

Being acknowledged as an equal by Trump is invaluable to Kim, whose authority is absolute, but whose grip on power is not entirely secure—which is one reason he has murdered entire families of suspected traitors, and committed hundreds of thousands of his own citizens to political internment camps. 

Likewise, Trump also seems to think that images like this will help him maintain his own power.

Why should I care about this?

  • The nuclear security of the United States is more important than a propaganda win for Donald Trump.
  • It's a real problem if a murderous, paranoid dictator and the President of the United States have the same approach.
  • Kim Jong-un doesn't have the United States' best interests at heart, and anyone who doesn't understand that is incompetent to be president.