Donald Trump Tries Something Different With North Korea. He Deserves Credit.

The prior three presidents all failed to stop North Korea from advancing its nuclear weapons agenda.

Having given my criticisms, let me give the President some praise for what he did.

Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all engaged with North Korea as victims of a shake down artist. The North Koreans would promise, repeatedly, to end their nuclear programs and then saber rattle. The United States would send them money. North Korea would continue starving its people while going back to its nuclear program. The United States, it seems, subsidized their program.

Donald Trump decided to do something different. North Korea saber rattled and President Trump decided to reciprocate with threats of war. It was something no one would have expected given past American precedent. It was something new. And the result was forcing North Korea to the table with South Korea and with us. There are lots of liberal complaints and claims that this meant more or less than it did. But Trump forced new actions on North Korea's part by taking new actions himself.

He deserves credit for that.

The problem I have with this is that President Trump gives a monster way more credibility than he should have. Claiming the North Korean people love the monster is too much. President Trump loves to engage in diplomacy by flattery and I think he crossed the line here. Republicans would absolutely be outraged if Obama had done this and they should be here. The North Korean monster imprisons, tortures, and murders his people and does so to a greater degree than any other dictator on the planet right now.

We handed the North Korean leader a huge propaganda victory and treated him better than we treat our own allies. The President said far nicer things about the monster who rules North Korea than about the Canadian Prime Minister. That's just wrong in my mind. The latter is actually an ally and the former would love to send us up in a radioactive fireball.

All that said, if the President can get North Korea to disarm, good. Barack Obama tried several new tactics on the world stage and they ended badly. I'm okay with Trump trying new things too and hope then work out better than with Obama. Our pre-existing North Korean policies have done nothing to stop the advancement of their nuclear weapons program. Perhaps this will.

There is something to be said for getting the little monster to a table to talk. Trump did that. He deserves credit for that. He deserves credit for trying. But I cannot help but think we came away with nothing except more of the same while we handed North Korea more legitimacy than that nation deserves. On top of that, State Department and White House officials say the President did not address human rights issues or the persecution of Christians in North Korea.

Honestly, I would be far more reassured by what happened if I thought there was anyone among the President's base willing to speak out if things go wrong. But I suspect if we do get nothing and North Korea feels emboldened that all the President's seal clappers will clap, just like Obama's team did with Iran.

At least we aren't sending North Korea a pile of cash.

No. 1-25

erick, YOU DID IT! You actually praised Trump again, and I can actually say I agree with you. The only comment that I can add is that maybe, just because they live in so isolated circumstances and they've not known anything different for, what, 3+ generations now, the NOKO people in their ignorance, do see this guy as better than dad or grandpa, so kinda-sorta do "love" him, in the twisted sort of way a prisoner ends up believing & even liking/loving his captor?


Erick surely you have heard that honey attracts more flies than vinegar


What Trump did at the Singapore Summit was play salesman. He brought with him a marketing video showing Kim Jong Un what life could be like if he chooses to denuclearize: Trump wined and dined Kim with flattering comments because he wants to convince Kim that he will go down in history as a courageous leader if he denuclearizes. Trump is betting that Kim is smart enough to see that this is a far better alternative than continuing on as the brutal dictator of an impoverished 3rd world country. Trump even used the classic “location, location, location” line, telling Kim that he is sitting on a tourist gold mine, located right between China and South Korea. As with the Iron Curtain countries, there is no way to undo the suffering of decades of North Korean oppression. The only thing that can be done is to seek a brighter future. That is the deal that Trump offered Kim. If one removes their Never Trump glasses for a minute, perhaps one can see that Trump believes playing nice with Kim is our best hope for getting a denuclearized Korean peninsula. As Trump said, if taking a day to travel to Singapore provides some hope of saving 30 million South Korean’s from a nuclear death, the trip was worth it. Withholding a photo-op for 70 years has done nothing to stop North Korea getting nukes and cruise missiles. Is giving Kim a photo-op that costs us nothing truly a major loss?


I am not giving Trump any credit. This was done for two reasons. One, a good photo op and something to use in his 2020 campaign. Two, he wants the Nobel Peace Prize.


@RogueValley The thing about the experts is that they are the ones who got us where we are at now. Clinton, Bush, and Obama each had 8 years to stop North Korea getting a nuke. Clearly, they failed, as documented by Politifact: Start Politifact Quote: "This agreement will help achieve a longstanding and vital American objective — an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula," Clinton said of the deal. “Spoiler: The Agreed Framework failed. North Korea accelerated its efforts to enrich uranium, which wasn’t a direct violation of the framework, and accused the United States of reneging on fuel oil promises. That certainly irked the George W. Bush administration, which cut off fuel oil shipments in 2002.”

End Politifact quote

In essence, Bush stopped payments on the Clinton agreement that wasn’t working, North Korea withdrew from the agreement, kept what we had given them up to that point in time, and by 2006 they successfully tested a nuclear device.

The moral of the story is that in dealing with somebody who isn’t going to keep a written agreement, a 1000 page congressional bill with the most precise language has little value. Instead of that, Trump is attempting a step-by-step process where we don’t give much of anything, until we see promises being kept.

The reality of the agreement signed yesterday is that is only a simple one-page framework. The important things is not what is written in yesterday’s agreement, but what steps North Korea will take to fulfill its promises as detailed negotiations for nuclear deregulation continue.

It is premature to bash Trump and yesterday’s agreement, just like it is premature to assume that yesterday’s agreement has any more value that Clinton’s failed 1994 framework. Trump made that clear by saying, we will know in 6 months, and until then we are keeping sanctions in place and we haven’t made any significant concessions.

The failure of the 1994 framework showed that nothing put in writing guarantees success. The bottom line is that the writing doesn’t matter and the verbal promises don’t matter. The only thing that matters is the actions taken to keep the intent of the agreement, which we will know over time. Even Never Trump experts should be able to see that.