Nukes for con­dos in North Korea?

The Record (Troy, NY) - - OPINION - Kath­leen Parker’s email ad­dress is kath­leen­parker@wash­post.com.

Well, it hap­pened: The pres­i­dent and the dic­ta­tor met, shook hands, looked each other in the eye, smiled for the cam­eras -- and lied through their teeth.

The vi­su­als, we wit­nessed; the lies we in­fer -- from ex­pe­ri­ence, his­tory and re­dun­dant pre­science.

But the sum­mit was defini­tively his­toric. Let us count the ways.

Don­ald Trump, the un­like­li­est pres­i­dent in U.S. his­tory, trav­eled to Sin­ga­pore to meet with the leader of North Korea, which no other Amer­i­can pres­i­dent has done (for ex­cel­lent rea­sons), and hand- de­liv­ered to Kim Jong Un -- an un­trust­wor­thy, mur­der­ing, tor­tur­ing, en­slav­ing, nu­cle­arized global men­ace who starves his peo­ple and reg­u­larly threat­ens the U.S. and its al­lies -- what he cov­ets most.

Trump gave him power.

It’s true, as you say, Mr. Pres­i­dent, that you’ve done what no other would. You’ve traded Amer­i­can au­thor­ity and le­git­imized a petty provo­ca­teur. For what? For the pos­si­bil­ity, as you sug­gested, of a beach­front ho­tel over­look­ing the Yel­low Sea, the Sea of Ja­pan or, in the event of a peace­ful re­uni­fi­ca­tion with South Korea, the East China Sea?

But for the mi­nor mat­ter of trade­marks, Ivanka’s swim­suits are sure to be a hit.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to be mis­taken. I’m not lob­by­ing for fail­ure, but there’s lit­tle rea­son to be­lieve that Kim will honor Trump’s ex­pec­ta­tions -- or vice versa. The so- called agree­ment in­cludes noth­ing sub­stan­tive to jus­tify op­ti­mism -- no defin­ing terms of what de­nu­cle­ariza­tion would look like, no out­line for ver­i­fica- tion, not even a time­line.

All we have is Trump’s as­sur­ance that Kim is a re­ally good guy, which for­mer NBA star Den­nis Rod­man al­ready told us; that Kim is “very tal­ented,” mean­ing God­knows-what, though cer­tainly he’s a vi­sion­ary when it comes to coif­fure. Lest we over­look Rod­man’s im­pe­ri­ous role in North Korean re­la­tions his pres­ence in Sin­ga­pore wear­ing a PotCoin T-shirt is be­ing cred­ited for the cryp­tocur­rency’s sud­den surge.

As though June 12, 2018, needed a car­toon­ish flour­ish.

Thus far, it ap­pears that the U.S. is al­legedly giv­ing more than it’s al­legedly get­ting. In ad­di­tion to Trump agree­ing to end what he called the “provoca­tive” and “tremen­dously ex­pen­sive” mil­i­tary ex­er­cises in the re­gion, he also men­tioned re­mov­ing some 30,000 U.S. troops from South Korea, de­liv­er­ing a win to China and, seem­ingly, sur­pris­ing U.S. mil­i­tary lead­er­ship in Korea.

“[ We have] re­ceived no up­dated guid­ance on ex­e­cu­tion or ces­sa­tion of train­ing ex­er­cises, to in­clude this fall’s sched­uled Ulchi Free­dom Guardian,” U.S. Forces in Korea spokes­woman Lt. Col. Jen­nifer Lovett said in a state­ment.

Trans­la­tion: What did he just say?!

The devil, as al­ways, is in the pro­pa­ganda -- a four-minute video, styled like a movie trailer, that Trump showed Kim in which the two lead­ers are pre­sented as world sav­iors. And the art of the deal in this case is in keep­ing with Trump’s nar­cis­sis­tic per­son­al­ity disorder. He views the world through the lens of his own self-in­ter­est.

Thus, Trump tried to tempt Kim with his real es­tate de­vel­oper’s per­spec­tive. Ex­plain­ing to re­porters later, he said: “They have great beaches. You see that when- ever they are ex­plod­ing their can­nons into the ocean. I said, ‘Boy look at that view.’ Wouldn’t that make a great condo? ... I said, ‘In­stead of do­ing that, you could have the best ho­tels in the world.’”

There’s un­de­ni­able logic to this ap­proach, even if it could ben­e­fit Trump di­rectly. Ag­gres­sive nuke-mon­ger­ing and tourism tend not to mix well. A great, big beau­ti­ful ho­tel or condo build­ing -- or dozens -- bear­ing the name Trump could help re­sus­ci­tate North Korea’s life­less econ­omy. And the rest of the world could ex­hale.

While some na­tions have is­sued con­grat­u­la­tory post-sum­mit state­ments at ab­so­lutely no risk to them­selves, oth­ers such as Iran were more cir­cum­spect. Said Ira­nian spokesman Mo­ham­mad Bagher Nobakht: “We don’t know what type of per­son the North Korean leader is ne­go­ti­at­ing with. It is not clear that he [ Trump] would not can­cel the agree­ment be­fore re­turn­ing home” -- a caveat not lack­ing in merit.

Mean­while, the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency stands at the ready to be­gin ver­i­fi­ca­tion ac­tiv­i­ties as war­ranted. Trump, too, has promised to stay on top of the deal, telling re­porters: “We’re go­ing to have to check it. We will check it. To­tal and com­plete.”

That is just su­per awesome, Mr. Pres­i­dent.

And if the deal should col­lapse any minute now?

Trump is pre­pared for that, too. “I may be wrong,” he said to re­porters. “I mean I may stand be­fore you in six months and say, ‘Hey I was wrong.’ I don’t know that I’ll ever ad­mit that, but I’ll find some kind of an ex­cuse.”

In­deed. To­tal and com­plete, ex­plod­ing can­nons and all.

Kath­leen Parker Columnist

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