Friday, August 9, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He was very impressed, once again, with Kim Jong-un's letters.

Trump boasted to reporters today about yet another "very beautiful letter" he'd received from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. He described it as "a beautiful three-page — I mean right from top to bottom — a really beautiful letter."

Talking about the letter led Trump to bash South Korea's government for wanting joint military exercises with the United States. Trump, who tends to view military cooperation with allies as a protection racket, shares Kim Jong-un's preference that they not happen. In fact, Kim has already persuaded Trump to cancel them once, during their ultra-secret, one-on-one summit meeting last year. (China found out, via Kim, that Trump had agreed to it before American military commanders did.)

It's not clear when Trump got the letter, but earlier this week he tweeted a boast that he'd forced South Korea to pay money to have American troops and equipment stationed there. (It's not at all clear that this is true.)

Trump's swoon over the letter comes during a busy few weeks for North Korea: it test-fired missiles five times since July 25, with the most recent test happening today. According to North Korea itself, the missile tests were intended as a warning to the United States and South Korea. 

At this point, it's not clear whether Trump fully understands what side of the conflict the United States is on. In his remarks today, he seemed confused about who had ordered the missile tests, defending Kim on that point before backing down when reporters followed up.

TRUMP: It was a great letter. He talked about what he’s doing. He’s not happy with the testing. It’s a very small testing that we did. But he wasn’t happy with the testing; he put that in the letter. But he also sees a great future for North Korea. And so we’ll see how it all works out. 
Q: Mr. President, what do you mean that he wasn’t happy with the missile tests? He carried them out. He ordered them. 
TRUMP: No, he wasn’t. He wasn’t happy with the tests — the war games. The war games on the other side, with the United States. And as you know, I’ve never liked it either. I’ve never liked it. I’ve never been a fan. 

Why should I care about this? 

  • It shouldn't be possible for an enemy nation to manipulate the President of the United States this much just by sending nice letters.
  • No one this easily confused about matters this important can serve as commander-in-chief.