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With North Korea a Presidential Trump Emerges

With North Korea a Presidential Trump Emerges

By Tuesday, 12 June 2018 01:20 PM Current | Bio | Archive

It’s a whole new ballgame.

With the signing of a peace pledge between North Korea and the U.S. — one predicated on the eventual de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula  — President Donald Trump has, for the first time, asserted himself as, well . . . a president.

With the accord, the president triumphantly returns home with a feather in his cap rivaling the significance of President Nixon’s historic visit to China.

Details still need to be worked out — and admittedly, the devil is always in the details —but if the agreement is ultimately pulled off, the entire scope of the American political landscape may change. The seemingly unstoppable Democratic tidal wave that was to hit this fall may well get dammed up, become merely a trickle. To be sure, many factors will determine the outcome of the crucial November elections — and five months is an eternity in politics, so anything can happen — but the Korean agreement goes a long way to helping the GOP maintain its congressional majorities.

Looking at mulitple aspects of the Korean situation, public policy and political benefit are not mutually exclusive. Just because something may benefit a political party doesn’t mean it isn’t good policy. To think otherwise is shortsighted and naïve. Sure, there will always be politicians prostituting themselves because everything they do is calculated, but ultimately, the motivation for enacting policy is irrelevant if it’s the right thing to do. And of course, it’s common sense that if politicians accomplish something that benefits the people, they will typically be rewarded come election time.

And to be clear, no issue comes close to providing as much political benefit to Mr. Trump’s party than a peace accord with North Korea. In the history of the nuclear age, no leader had ever directly threatened the U.S. with open nuclear war — until North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did just that, and on multiple occasions.

Unlike some leaders who are all bluster and no substance, Kim proved his resolve by developing nuclear weapons, and their all-important delivery systems, much faster than anticipated. Making matters considerably more grave, it turned out that Kim’s nuclear program possessed a degree of sophistication that caught our intelligence agencies embarrassingly off-guard.

The unthinkable is an intercontinental ballistic missile that could legitimately hit not just Hawaii and Alaska but virtually anywhere in the United States was proven by Kim to be feasible. His launches demonstrated that.

This was a feat thought impossible. Kim shocked the world with his technical prowess and, more so, his seeming willingness to follow through on threats.  In a world of boisterous leaders who talk a good game against America but either can’t or won’t pull the trigger, Kim’s earnestness to launch if he felt boxed-in was as real as it gets.

The bottom line? Nothing else matters if an American city gets nuked, as our entire way of life would irreparably change. Realizing that Americans were living in the most dangerous time since the Cuban missile crisis, Mr. Trump has taken huge steps to mitigate, and ultimately eliminate, the Korea nuclear threat.

There is nothing more America First than that.

Naysayers on both sides leading up to the summit were not just ignorant, but set a terrible example.

Can Kim be trusted? Will he ever truly give up his ace-in-the-hole nuclear program, which he and his father spent billions developing, and which gives him a seat at the big boy table? Will he renege? And is he playing Mr. Trump as a fool?

Who knows? But several things are clear.

First, assuming Kim cooperates, the way to proceed hangs on two Reaganite principles: peace through strength (the military strike option stays on the table as the hammer to guarantee compliance), and trust but verify (unencumbered access is mandatory, and no "games" will be tolerated).

So why the criticisms? And why the ridiculous conventional-wisdom analysis that a summit and subsequent talks with Kim is "high stakes" and a "huge gamble," as many pundits proclaim? It's nothing of the kind.

Let’s cut to brass tacks. American policy toward North Korea has remained virtually unchanged in sixty years, no matter which party was in control. And it has been an abject failure, as North Korea’s ever-emboldened actions have inarguably demonstrated (culminating in its successful ICBM program).

So what's the harm in trying something different? Why criticize the president for engaging in that all-important aspect of human communication — talking face-to-face?

What are the worst things that could have happened?

Kim could have blown off the meeting or made outrageous demands, both of which would have placed us back exactly where we were, and had been, for decades — square one.

But at least the president could say he tried.

If good-faith talks had failed, then we could consider wiping Kim and his nuclear program off the face of the earth. But in attempting a peaceful diplomatic solution, Mr. Trump’s efforts may have potentially saved millions of lives on both sides. How can making every effort at peace, even if the odds for success were not high, be so open for criticism?

And for those who undermined Mr. Trump for even entertaining the thought of a summit — many of whom are also opposed to military action — the question stands: if no talks and no military strikes are on the table, what then? 

Sure, we heard all the "solutions" the establishment loves to talk about — more economic sanctions, more aggressive military maneuvers, more pressure on China to deal with Kim — but all are meaningless. They are simply reiterations of a failed policy, for a good reason: they don’t work. China has an interest in keeping America at odds with North Korea, and cheats on the sanctions anyway, so what’s the point of pressuring them? The only thing such impotent policies do is allow North Korea to become a stronger nuclear power.

Being obnoxious and wrong is bad. Believing that talk and open communication is anathema is even worse. But criticizing from the cheap seats while offering zero viable solutions is pathetic.

Some detractors love to rattle off conditions that North Korea should meet before we deal with Kim: human rights, fair elections, and freeing political prisoners. And it would be great if the world were filled with rainbows and lollipops. Except that it’s not. Those demands show naïveté, since adhering to such prerequisites would see our trading partners shrink to Antarctica and Santa’s workshop.

China violates human rights; ignores international law; sends toxic products to America; pollutes on a global scale; and gouges the land. And it has nuclear missiles pointed at the U.S. Yet American dollars have made it an economic powerhouse, so much so that Walmart ranks as China’s seventh-largest trading partner.

The best way to help North Korea (after it is de-nuclearized) is to guide it toward liberalism (small "l") — like we do with China — in the hopes that a vibrant middle class can be born, where freedoms are earned and opportunities realized.

A victory like this can pay huge dividends not just for country and party, but for the man himself. Donald Trump looked more presidential than he ever has, and not just because he held an unprecedented summit. He looked comfortable and confident, like he had finally morphed from a reality-tv star occupying the Oval Office to America’s true commander in chief.

One summit does not make a president, and the big question is if Mr. Trump will revert to his alienating ways. However, if his Tweets stay on the issues (a big if) and if he continues to act more presidential (another big if), while not changing who he is, Donald Trump stands to win over a significant bloc who desperately want a reason to be his supporter.

And to think it would take the North to help refloat a presidency that had gone south. If Mr. Trump can make the peace accord stick, his approval rating may just go — nuclear.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.

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One summit does not make a president. If his Tweets stay on the issues, and if he continues to act more presidential, Donald Trump stands to win over a significant bloc who desperately want to be his supporters. His approval rating may just go, nuclear.
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Tuesday, 12 June 2018 01:20 PM
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