Saturday, October 5, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He insisted everything was fine with the North Korea talks that North Korea has walked out of.

The North Korean envoy to nuclear talks with the United States has left a meeting in Sweden and declared himself "very displeased." Kim Myong-gil addressed reporters today:

The negotiation did not live up to our expectations and broke down. I am very displeased. It is entirely because the U.S. has not discarded its old stance and attitude that the negotiation this time failed to produce any results. 
...While having so far hinted at a flexible approach, new method and creative solution, the U.S. has heightened expectations. But it came out with nothing, greatly disappointed us and sapped our appetite for negotiations. We have already clearly explained to the U.S. what calculation method was needed and given it sufficient time, but the U.S. came to the negotiations empty-handed and this, after all, shows it is not willing to solve the issue.

Trump's State Department, on the other hand, insisted that everything was fine. In a statement, a spokesperson claimed that the North Korean comments "do not reflect the content or the spirit" of the talks, and said that the U.S. had "proposed to accept the invitation of our Swedish hosts to return to Stockholm to meet again in two weeks time, in order to continue discussions." North Korea has not agreed to come back to the table.

Under normal circumstances, North Korean claims should be treated very skeptically. But more or less by definition, if a country says talks with an enemy nation aren't going well, they aren't.

Trump long ago declared the North Korean nuclear threat over, which has given Kim Jong-un a great deal of leverage over him, since Trump can hardly afford another high-profile failure in an election season. But in reality, the Kim regime has taken no steps whatsoever towards denuclearization—or even agreed that "denuclearization" means giving up its nuclear arsenal. Instead, it has ramped up its missile program

To be clear, Trump himself made no comment on North Korea today, spending his Saturday as usual playing golf and rage-tweeting. In fact, Trump has almost completely avoided the topic of North Korea for months, except to shrug at missile tests and enthuse about the letters he gets from Kim Jong-un.

Why does this matter?

  • This is why you don't declare a problem solved until it's actually solved.
  • The safety of the United States from nuclear-armed dictators is more important than Donald Trump's political problems.