“I do trust him, yeah. He really wants to do a great job for North Korea. He’s de-nuking the whole place, and I think he’s going to start very quickly. He really wants to do something I think terrific for their country.”
So said the president of the United States on Tuesday, hours after meeting with a brutal dictator, and every word rang wrong.
To “trust” North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is a waste of time. His word is worthless, certainly when it comes to North Korean promises to abandoning nuclear weapons. North Korea first affirmed its supposed desire to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula 26 years ago.
A better word would be “verify,” but nothing to which Kim and Trump agreed on Monday even hints that North Korea might finally allow outside inspectors to verify a nuclear winding-down — should North Korea agree to anything of substance at all.
To say Kim will start “very quickly” is salesman’s rhetoric, best left to predictions about when the next Trump tower might go up. Serious negotiations — to achieve a deal that’s an inch deeper than Monday’s photo op — will take months, if not years, and Kim has conceded nothing.
Our president did all the conceding.
He agreed to security guarantees for North Korea. He agreed to suspend American military exercises with South Korea. He gave Kim, one of the world’s great abusers of human rights, political legitimacy.
Just one good thing came of all this: The two men talked, which beats not talking. Too often, as in our nation’s dealings with Cuba, American diplomacy has been a bull-headed mix of military threats and political isolation.
We welcomed Barack Obama’s expression of willingness, as president, to meet with foreign adversaries, and we praised him when he visited Cuba in 2016 and met with Raul Castro. Republicans who now praise Trump for meeting with Kim, of course, excoriated Obama for meeting with Castro.
What Obama did not do was gush. He never once told Castro it was a “great honor” to meet him or praise him as “very talented.”
Once again, that’s nothing but Manhattan real estate talk.
Speaking of which, here’s what else Trump had to say to Kim:
“North Korea has great beaches. You see that whenever they’re exploding cannons into the ocean. … Wouldn’t that make a great condo? … You could have the best hotels in the world right there.”
Goodness, no. Our president made a real estate pitch.
Then again, maybe Trump’s got his little dictator all figured out.
Maybe Kim will abandon his nuclear ambitions, free the 100,000 men, woman and children slaving away in his gulags, quit assassinating his own relatives, and lead his nation out of the darkness, all for the promise of a nice beachfront condo.
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