Sunday, August 11, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He gave North Korea an excuse to keep threatening South Korea and Japan.

Trump's inexplicable "love" affair (as he himself described it) with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un blossomed again this past week when Kim sent Trump another "very beautiful letter." Trump's seemingly genuine enthusiasm for the letter's characteristics ("beautiful") and length ("three pages, top to bottom") stood in awkward contrast to the fact that North Korea was once again violating U.N. mandates by conducting missile tests that doubled as obvious threats to Japan and South Korea.

Yesterday, possibly remembering that Kim is not quite as popular outside the Oval Office, Trump backtracked slightly. He belatedly insisted that the "very beautiful letter" contained "a small apology" for the missile tests. There's no way to know if that's actually true, as Trump has refused to share the contents of the letter with the public.

At the same time that Trump was tacking on part about the "apology," North Korea conducted yet another test.

Today, North Korean officials approvingly—and accurately—cited Trump's pro-Kim comments as justifying their missile tests. "With regard to our test for developing the conventional weapons, even the US president made a remark which in effect recognizes the self-defensive rights of a sovereign state, saying that it is a small missile test which a lot of countries do," read a statement attacking the South Korean government released through North Korean state media.

The United States is, at least as far as most other Americans are concerned, allied with Japan and South Korea and in a de facto state of war with North Korea.

Why does this matter?

  • It's extremely bad if a nuclear-armed dictator can honestly say that the President of the United States is on his side in a conflict with America's allies.
  • However Kim Jong-un has managed to do this to Trump—and it's not at all clear—it should not be possible to manipulate the President of the United States this completely.