The president’s bad breakup with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G7 apparently left him feeling vulnerable and angry. He was a man ripe for a rebound relationship, and found it several days later when he first met North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
As the president noted at a rally in West Virginia this past week, “we fell in love.” Then again, love is blind.
There’s no question that the president yearns for a peace treaty with Kim and he should be lauded for his efforts to secure one. He wants to prove he’s a great negotiator on the international stage, that he succeeded where his predecessors failed, and that a deal with Kim will help secure his place in history as the greatest American president ever. His choice of the Supreme Leader as his next bromantic conquest, however, has consequences that are far-reaching and potentially dangerous. And lest we forget, Kim is a two-timer.
During their hot date in steamy Singapore, the Supreme Leader signed a marriage contract of sorts with the president, yet almost immediately afterward, he cheated. Vowing that he would begin to denuclearize, Kim instead ramped things up, starting work on new nuclear facilities. He extracted assurances from the president that the U.S. would divorce itself from the “provocative” war games it holds each year with South Korea, a promise Mr. Trump did, indeed, deliver on much to the consternation of U.S. diplomats and military leaders. “Beautiful letters” from Kim aside, the president has repeatedly been blindsided by him, despite Kim’s professions of undying love.
Speaking of dying, the president should be advised that North Korea’s “Dear Leader” is prone to domestic violence and not to be trusted. The objects of his abuse have been family members, close advisers and military officials, musicians and even the manager of a turtle farm who tried to explain to Kim that his critters were expiring due to power failures and lack of food and water. The Institute for National Security Strategy has reported that they were among the 340 North Koreans executed since Kim first came to power, in 2011. Those deaths don’t include the tens of thousands of his countrymen who have died in gulags and of malnutrition; a conservative estimate.
Of North Korea, the president says the Supreme Leader “ran it tough.” It’s the type of tough love any normal person could do without, but Mr. Trump spoke those words approvingly.
Senator Lindsay Graham (R, S.C.), who enjoys his own bromance with the president, told an audience at the Atlantic Festival this past Wednesday, “this love crap needs to stop. There’s nothing to love about Kim Jong Un.”
And yet, Trump is now eagerly awaiting a second date with Kim. His attempts at seduction include suggestions that he may extricate the U.S. from a trade deal with South Korea and remove all American troops from the Korean peninsula. According to “Fear,” Bob Woodward’s tome on the Trump White House, when that idea was floated, Secretary of Defense James Mattis explained to the president that keeping troops there was to “prevent World War III.”
Unfortunately, the so-called “adults in the room” at the White House hold little sway over a man who, two years ago, told the Republican Convention, “I alone can fix it.” But when it comes to North Korea, Russia, China, the Middle East, the EU, NATO and beyond, the president is out of his league. Rather than consult with State and Defense Department officials and the intelligence community, Mr. Trump prefers, instead, to fly solo and take a scattershot approach to diplomacy. In doing so, someone may very well end up getting killed, be they American soldiers and their dependents, the Korean people, or regional allies like the Japanese.
The president said of Kim, “we have this great relationship.” Maybe. For now. It might, however, be wiser to listen to Lindsay Graham, who said, “If Rocket Man believes that he’s got Trump loving him and backing off, then we are all in trouble.”
Blair Bess is a Los Angeles-based television writer, producer, and columnist. He edits the online blog Soaggragated.com, and can be reached at BBess.firstname.lastname@example.org.