The time difference between metro Raleigh, North Carolina (where I live and write) and Singapore is 12 hours. American President Donald Trump (a/k/a Spanky – more about that later) is scheduled to meet with North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jung-un at 9am (Singapore time – 9 pm Raleigh time.) This article is scheduled to publish at 1am Raleigh time. All that said there is a good chance that since the meeting and “festivities” are scheduled for only 11 hours everything will be over by the time you read this. I still think it is worth discussing and speculating about. Let’s explore.
First allow me to explain my succumbing to the temptation for a snarky comment: the word around Washington is that many Republicans privately took to calling Trump “Spanky” after Stormy Daniels claimed that Trump dropped his pants so she could spank him on his tighty whitey clad behind with a magazine featuring him on its cover as a prelude to their sexual “adventure”.
I do not expect an eleventh hour cancellation of this meeting because both principals want it too badly. Kim sees it as recognition that he and North Korea are in the “big leagues”. Trump will claim whatever outcome as a tremendous victory and grab a positive headline. Also he buries Russiagate for a news cycle or two. The ignorant masses that constitute the majority of his base will be able to chant “Nobel” at his next “peep rally”.
The Korean peninsula is one of the most complex global problems and hottest hot spots. The idea that all can be resolved in a single 11 hour meeting complete with formalities, superfluous opening statements and translations is insane. Even if complete denuclearization of North Korea is achieved (which it will not be!) the conventional arms and forces North Korea has assembled near the border and the South Korean capital of Seoul is sufficient to kill hundreds of thousands if not millions in a matter of hours.
Why would any reasonable person expect a breakthrough at this summit? Trump is coming off a G-7 meeting in Quebec where he couldn’t reach an accord with six allies two of which speak English as a first language. (A credible case can be made that French President Emmanuel Macron is more proficient in English than Trump is. French is Macron’s first language.) After Trump left the meeting early (skipping a session dealing with climate change- the most serious certain threat to the planet) he sent a tweet blowing up relations with the six allies and the formal closing statement. A strong case can be made that the only nation’s interests Trump championed in Quebec were those of Russia who is neither a member of the G-7 nor an American ally.
Normally a summit like this would be the culmination of months of work by high level diplomates and regional experts who hammered out the details of a complex agreement. Trump has gutted the State department (much to the delight of Russian President Vladimir Putin) and has surrounded himself with the likes of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo (hardly the “A Team”).
As to personal preparation Trump recently claimed he has been preparing his entire life and it’s all attitude. I contend that ignorance and arrogance are hardly preparation or qualification. All Trump cares about is that Sarah Huckabee-Sanders can go out and claim the meeting was historic, courageous, brave, groundbreaking, all of or some combination of the above. Mr. President, this isn’t a pitch to some witless investors on a real estate scam/deal; this is a life and death situation with real and serious implications.
There is zero chance that Trump will come out of Singapore with an agreement better than the Iran Nuclear Deal which he backed out of. I’m certain Trump will give himself an A+ (like he did in Hurricane Maria relief). By his own standards (the Iran Nuclear Deal) a real world grade would have to be an “F”. I’ll admit I have no idea what he will be doing when clad only in those tighty whities.
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