I guess you could call this an example of the Trump Effect: the perversion of patriotism.
Somehow analysts across the political spectrum have embarked on a round of blaming and shaming North Korea for the blow-up of the proposed diplomatic summit with the United States.
The idea that the breakdown of pre-negotiation negotiations shows how “unreliable,” “unpredictable,” and “irresponsible” Kim Jong-Un and this whole team and nation have turned out to be, seems to me to be nothing more than “my President, drunk or sober.”
In this case, our President, Donald J. Trump, drunk, as usual, with self-perceived power, has puked all over his opportunity to improve relations with a heretofore renegade state. He and his hench-team of, in Rex Tillerson’s memorable words, “fucking moron[s].” Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo and John Bolton have characteristically overbid their hand.
It was bad enough, incompetent enough, stupid enough from a diplomatic standpoint, for Trump & Co. to assert that America would only accept total victory – unilateral and complete nuclear disarmament – as the outcome of negotiations with Pyongyang. It was worse that North Korean acquiescence to the demand for complete and immediate “de-nuclearization” was made an American pre-condition for the so-called Singapore Summit to take place.
What was the incentive for Kim Jong-Un to take part? The honor of a seat across the table from Donald Trump? Please.
What negotiation was purported to be on offer if the crucial end-point was pre-sealed?
And what reward was being proffered for the surrender of the very arsenal that got the North Koreans their invitation to play “Deal with the Master-Dealer” in the first place?
Some vague blather about future comity and riches? Come on, would you value an IOU from Trump?
By the time the President started to back-peddle on his demands, hinting he’d take step-by-step disarmament, rather than complete and immediate, — something his back-up singers were already rejecting – it was too late.
But then, Trump and Pence, Pompeo and Bolton had already started talking about Libya. Could they have found a more toxic subject? I don’t think so.
And, for sure, the North Koreans, for very good reasons, don’t think so.
To North Korea, and most of the even modestly-informed world, the parable of Libya is simple. Play the fool and trust the West, trust the United States, to reward you for surrendering your weapons of mass destruction, and you will wind up overthrown and dead. Simple as that.
“The Libya model” as Bolton liked to call it, was not a “threat,” according to Pence, but, if the North Koreans didn’t take Trump’s deal, it would be “a fact.”
No need for Kim Jong-Un to come to Singapore, to sit across a table, to hear this “deal you cannot refuse.” He was hearing it in advance. Nuts to that, he said. Nuts to the ultimatum, and nuts to the nuts who made it.
And this makes him unreliable, unpredictable and irresponsible?
By the way, it should be noted that among the makers of “the Libya model,” among the original preachers of this parable of “disarm and die,” were President Barack Obama and his “tough girl” Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
They joined French President Nicolas Sarkozy, presently facing the possibility of jail time because it seems he corruptly and secretly took millions of Euros from Muammar Qaddafi, in betraying his benefactor and blindly changing his Libyan regime when he had nothing better ready to take its place.
As for the Americans, they not only ignored the “regime change” lesson they claimed they had learned from Iraq, but they did the even “stupid[er] stuff” of punishing the first outlaw leader to turn in his biggest guns for promises of inclusion in polite international society.
For years, Kim Jong-Un had been citing what he understood to be the lesson of the Qaddafi story: that only a fool trades weapons of mass destruction for promises of future benevolence.
And guess what? He meant what he said.
Only bigger fools would claim to be surprised.
And only faux-patriots in the media and academia would foolishly second that emotion.