President Trump’s extraordinary Tuesday-morning Singapore summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was an encounter that eluded every American president from Eisenhower to Obama. What will come of the handshake between the 72-year-old American and the 34-year-old North Korean? Nobody knows. But Trump at least is trying to prevent Pyongyang’s missiles from blossoming into mushroom clouds over American soil.
And in the process, perhaps Trump can persuade the Swiss-educated despot to become his country’s Mikhail Gorbachev, Deng Xiaoping, or even Kamal Ataturk. Fittingly enough, the model of pro-market strongman Lee Kuan Yew, father of Singapore, also comes to mind. Kim has the capacity, single-handedly, to keep North Korea in a ditch or allow it to emerge, expand, and enjoy some of the riches of South Korea and China, which Pyongyang conveniently straddles.
As China’s Communist leaders prove, Kim could do this without going the way of Moammar Qaddafi. Kim could remain in power. If he lets his people be a bit freer, and allows them to grow, he could stay in command as their lives brighten and economic liberty advances. Political freedom might follow, as it tends to do. Even partial freedom would be a massive improvement over the Dark Ages in which North Koreans now struggle. And if this makes Earth safer, and Americans, South Koreans, and Japanese can fall asleep without worrying about reliving Nagasaki, let us move forward together.
As Trump manages these huge, vital matters, his stature grows. But simultaneously, his critics are shrinking. Rather than offer constructive criticism, credible alternatives, or new ideas, they attack Trump in the silliest ways.
• Last August, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California demanded: “The United States must respond to the North Korean nuclear threat by working with other nations including Russia and China to enforce the new United Nations sanctions and must join with our allies to advance a diplomatic solution.”
Trump followed Pelosi’s recipe for peace nearly verbatim. Nevertheless, she complained Tuesday: “President Trump elevated North Korea to the level of the United States while preserving the regime’s status quo.”
Trump’s meeting with Kim did not put North Korea on the level of the United States any more than Trump’s May 2017 pow-wow with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud made Riyadh equal Washington. Any leader of a small nation who stands beside the president of the United States looks more significant merely for doing so. This is unavoidable. The only way to prevent this phenomenon is to insist that the president meet solely with the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
Pelosi added on Tuesday: “The millions of families currently living in fear of nuclear weapons in the region deserve strong and smart leadership built-in diplomacy and engagement with our regional partners and allies.”
Perhaps Pelosi was too worried about the “Armageddon” of the Trump/GOP tax cuts to notice that Trump repeatedly has consulted on North Korea with U.S. allies South Korea and Japan, and also with China. Beijing is not a U.S. partner, but it is a world power.
Pelosi’s relentless, clueless sniping proves that there is nothing that President Trump can do that does not trigger the shrill, Chihuahua-like yaps of the House’s top Democrat.
• Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York trivialized the Singapore confab as “purely a reality-show summit.” This is frightfully dismissive of an East–West meeting that no other Democrat or Republican has been able to orchestrate. While details and timetables will follow, Kim has committed himself, in public and on paper, to “work toward” denuclearization and to return the remains of American GIs who died in the Korean War — something else that no previous U.S. president had arranged. Trump also got Kim’s signature on all of this. Obama, in contrast, concluded his pathetic “deal” with Iran’s ayatollahs. However, astonishingly, he never bothered to have them sign it.
This raises a question: Is America better off possessing a brief, general statement bearing a North Korean signature or a very specific, lengthy document with no Iranian signature? The former at least shows some level of moral intention. This may not be much coming from a dictator. But in the spirit of honor among thieves, Kim’s John Hancock trumps the lack of same from the sons of Khomeini.
• “I must say I was a little taken aback by the North Korean flags and the American flags side by side,” Wendy Sherman, chief U.S. negotiator for the despicable Iran-nuke pact, told MSNBC Tuesday. ”We aren’t equals to each other, and this conferred power to Kim Jong-un that I don’t believe he has yet earned, in terms of the respect from the United States.”
Former CIA chief of staff Jeremy Bash concurred.
“The spectacle of seeing the American flags along with the [North Korean] flags as the backdrop for that handshake is really jarring,” Bash bashed Trump on MSNBC. “In fact, I would say it’s somewhat disgusting. It is actually a debasement of the American flag.” He added: “This is a despotic regime that murders its own citizens. And so, we’re putting him on the same stage as the American president.”
However, no such flag flap erupted when the U.S. and Cuban banners stood, staff by staff, when the heads of state from Washington and Havana met in September 2015. Cuba’s Communist state has killed its foes without trial. It brooks no dissent, jails its critics, and even locked up gays and forcibly quarantined AIDS patients. Nobody cared about the flags behind Cuban tyrant Raul Castro and Obama when they huddled. The mere presence of Obama made this matter unremarkable, just as the mere presence of Trump makes the identical detail scandalous and reprehensible.
• CNN anchor Don Lemon even ridiculed the lunch menu that Trump and Kim shared. Why not mock what these two ate? Crumbs, indeed! All the better to dismiss President Trump’s efforts, ultimately, to prevent his fellow Americans from being turned into radioactive ashes. Why take that seriously when noodles can be lampooned?
If President Trump’s groundbreaking work this week wins him the Nobel Peace Prize, have no fear. Democrats and their media bodyguards will attack the medal for being too shiny, not shiny enough, or made of gold rather than platinum — whatever it takes to guarantee that Donald J. Trump always has a bad day.