The first sign that Donald Trump’s one-on-one summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was not going living up to billing came soon after news broke of a much-hyped agreement Trump signed with Kim–or “Dear Respected,” as he is called in North Korea.
While announcing the deal, Trump told reporters that the United States was calling off its joint military exercises with South Korea. Watch here, via The Guardian.
One problem–neither Trump nor anyone else in the American delegation thought to discuss this with their counterparts in Seoul. Or with the Pentagon, for that matter. So for the second time in two weeks, Trump has displayed a cavalier attitude toward a longstanding ally or group of allies, while cozying up to a dictator who runs his country like a crime boss.
If possible, it went downhill from there. Trump also went out of his way to praise Kim, calling him a “talented” man. Trump noted that Kim walked into a dicey situation when he inherited the reins of power from his late father, “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-un, in 2011.
“Anybody that takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it and run it tough — I don’t say he was nice, or I don’t say anything about it.”
With all due respect, Mr. Trump, “Dear Respected” doesn’t just run his country “tough.” He runs it with fear and terror–keeping up a long and brutal tradition inherited from his grandfather, “Great Leader” Kim Il-sung, and his father.
The New York Times tried to remind Trump of this just before he took off for Singapore. North Korea is a police state where perceived enemies are arrested without trial. The lucky ones are packed off to brutal prison camps, while others–including family members–are executed.
According to a lengthy United Nations report about North Korea in 2014, the people are indoctrinated almost from the moment they are out of the womb to weed out any form of independent thought and instill “absolute obedience” to Kim. The country has ranked at or near the bottom of nearly every measure of human rights and press freedom for the better part of seven decades.
None of that history seemed to dissuade Trump from keeping up his praise of Kim when he spoke with Voice of America’s Greta Van Susteren. Watch here.
Trump conceded that Kim was “a rough guy”–but one who “loves his people” and “loves his country.” Anyone who knows anything about North Korea knows that “Dear Respected,” like his father and grandfather before him, has a somewhat warped definition of “love.” Besides his brutal repression of dissent, many North Koreans live in abject poverty, while Kim splits his time between 12 official residences–including five in Pyongyang alone.
That probably explains why an incredulous Van Susteren wondered how Kim could love his people if “he’s starved them” and “he’s been brutal to them.” Trump’s reply? Kim was merely “doing what’s been done.”
Once again, we find ourselves asking a question we’ve asked all too often about Trump over the last few years–will it be worth it?
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