Monday, April 23, 2018

April 23, 2018--Contortions

It has been painful to witness progressives, Democrats twisting themselves into contortions as they attempt to come to grips with what is happening with the North Koreans.

Their problem is less with Kim Jong-un and the North Koreans than with how to think about and react to Donald Trump's involvement.

Remember how during the 2016 primaries he said it would be his "honor" to meet face-to-face with Kim? He was roundly criticized and mocked by both his Republican and Democratic opponents as being naive and inexperienced in the world of global diplomacy. He was chastised for asserting that traditional forms of diplomacy (which included many months of pre-summit negotiations between lower-level staffs) were the necessary prerequisites to meetings between heads of states. Particularly hostile ones.

Think Kissinger meeting privately with Zhou Enlai before Nixon would consider getting together with Zhou much less Mao.

Failing to recall how neophyte Barack Obama was roundly criticized and mocked by his political opponents (Hillary Clinton leading the pack) during the 2008 campaign when he declared he would be willing to meet face-to-face with the leaders of Iran and North Korea in the search for peace, progressives, opposing Trump now in such ahistorical, knee-jerk fashion are being, well, intentionally forgetful, hypocritical, or both.  

So now we not only have a heads-of-state meeting on the books for late May/early June, but we appear to have Kim making all sorts of preemptive concessions about his nuclear weapons program.

First he announced he was suspending all testing of missiles and nuclear warheads. Then, again without demanding anything in return, he announced over the weekend that he will be shutting down his nuclear weapons research and fabrication facilities. He wants, he says, to turn his focus to the collapsed North Korean economy.

This latter promise is discombobulating progressives. On Saturday and Sunday, for example, on CNN and especially MSNBC, former senior Obama national security advisors and staff have been all over the airwaves struggling with how to think about and respond to these overtures.

First, and most appropriately, they expressed skepticism, warning that the North Koreans for decades have made promises of this sort that they haven't kept. Then they dismissed the evidence that the extra-severe sanctions imposed on the North Koreans, mainly by the U.S. and China, have led to the further hollowing out of the North Korean economy, such as it is, and this is forcing Kim to the table. 

They are ignoring this evidence because, as with Kim's pledge to scale back his weapons program, not to have criticized what seems to be unfolding would give tacit if not overt credit to Trump, as unlikely and crazy and as confounding as what may be happening might turn out to be. 

Liberals so despise Trump that they cannot bear to give some credit, much less offer any praise for his leading the effort to bring this about.

Most outrageously, if Trump pulls this off he would be a leading candidate to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. If the unthinkable were to occur, he as well as Obama would have one. 

Worse--all of us in our heart-of-hearts know Obama didn't really deserve his whereas if we manage to make a verifiable deal with the North Koreans, Trump will have earned his.

Sometimes the world is too confounding to deal with. This may turn out to be one of those occasions.

Kissinger and Zhou Enlai

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