Tough talk and delusionary braggadocio evidently play well with GOP “true believers,” but people who actually know something about diplomacy and international relations can tell the difference between actually accomplishing something and putting on a reality TV show.
In the wake of the hyped summit between Trump and “little rocket man,” the analysis from knowledgable folks of both parties has been pretty devastating.
In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof summarizes the summit in his very first sentence, writing that “It sure looks as if President Trump was hoodwinked in Singapore.”
Trump made a huge concession — the suspension of military exercises with South Korea. That’s on top of the broader concession of the summit meeting itself, security guarantees he gave North Korea and the legitimacy that the summit provides his counterpart, Kim Jong-un.
Within North Korea, the “very special bond” that Trump claimed to have formed with Kim will be portrayed this way: Kim forced the American president, through his nuclear and missile tests, to accept North Korea as a nuclear equal, to provide security guarantees to North Korea, and to cancel war games with South Korea that the North has protested for decades.
And what did our President–the self-proclaimed “deal-maker” who had no need to prepare for delicate international negotiations and who would “feel” how things would go within the first minute or so–get in return?
In exchange for these concessions, Trump seems to have won astonishingly little. In a joint statement, Kim merely “reaffirmed” the same commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula that North Korea has repeatedly made since 1992.
Had Trump prepared for the meeting, perhaps he would have known that the commitment he is trumpeting is recycled pap. For that matter, Kristof notes that Trump achieved much less than North Korea had agreed to during prior negotiations.
The most remarkable aspect of the joint statement was what it didn’t contain. There was nothing about North Korea freezing plutonium and uranium programs, nothing about destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles, nothing about allowing inspectors to return to nuclear sites, nothing about North Korea making a full declaration of its nuclear program, nothing about a timetable, nothing about verification, not even any clear pledge to permanently halt testing of nuclear weapons or long-range missiles.
Kim seems to have completely out-negotiated Trump, and it’s scary that Trump doesn’t seem to realize this.
What is truly scary, as Paul Krugman points out in his own analysis of Trump’s abysmal performance at both the G7 and the meeting in Singapore, is the complicity of the congressional GOP.
As he notes in his introduction, there is no longer a question where Trump’s “loyalties” lie; any reasonable doubts about that were “put to rest by the events of the past few days, when he defended Russia while attacking our closest allies.”
[T]his isn’t a column about Trump. It is, instead, about the people who are enabling his betrayal of America: the inner circle of officials and media personalities who are willing to back him up whatever he says or does, and the wider set of politicians — basically the entire Republican delegation in Congress — who have the power and constitutional obligation to stop what he’s doing, but won’t lift a finger in America’s defense….
Krugman joins the chorus of commentators who have pointed out that Trump’s accusations about trade with Canada have been debunked by his own administration. GOP members of Congress know that he is manufacturing this dispute.
Why are Republican politicians unwilling to discharge their constitutional responsibilities? Relatively few of them, one suspects, actually want a trade war, let alone a breakup of the Western alliance. And many of them, one also suspects, are well aware that a de facto foreign agent sits in the Oval Office. But they are immobilized by a combination of venality and cowardice.
Venality because the GOP prioritizes tax cuts for its donors over the common good; cowardice because the Republican base continues to drink Trump’s Kool-Aid.
It’s hard to disagree with his conclusion.
What all this tells us is that the problem facing America runs much deeper than Trump’s personal awfulness. One of our two major parties appears to be hopelessly, irredeemably corrupt. And unless that party not only loses this year’s election but begins losing on a regular basis, America as we know it is finished.