With her usual flair for alternative facts, presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway said this, on Wednesday, of Trump's preparation for the U.S.-North Korea meeting: "It is structured, it is extensive, it is, at this point, intense."
On Thursday, Trump said "I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude, it’s about willingness to get things done. So this isn’t a question of preparation." Voila. "I think I’m very well prepared."
For weeks I maintained that a Trump-Kim summit would not come off. I was both wrong, and right. The two will meet, but this is no summit in any traditional sense of the word. This is but a farce, a pretense, a joke — an all-networks episode of reality TV. Trump needed this meeting to save face, and Kim, knowing he could glibly "handle" the unprepared president, happily agreed to it. After all, the present score is in Kim's favor, 1- 0. He has already accomplished what his blood predecessors so desperately sought: diplomatic equality with the United States — which Trump sacrificed to Kim at no cost whatsoever.
Trump always insisted he would operate an "unpredictable" foreign policy. For once, he was truthful. Major concessions in the absence of reciprocity are scarcely the stuff of predictability to anyone even cursorily schooled in the art of international give and take. Kim and his goons are unquestionably laughing at Trump and his goons. Who knew that imperialist dogs were such a pushover?
The future of talks hinges on North Korea's denuclearization, which ain't gonna happen. So the jig is up before they sit down. Kim's challenge, then, is to bamboozle Trump into easing economic sanctions while making mere promises of denuclearization, and perhaps scaling back his arsenal by some insignificant measure. Trump, being a largemouth bass going for the bait, will gleefully declare such "concessions" a major personal victory. (What of retiring US troops from the peninsula, or withdrawing our nuclear umbrella from South Korea? One shivers to think of the indifference with which this president could betray yet another U.S. ally.)
Trump has said he "would certainly like to see normalization" with North Korea. That would be normalization with this, from the Wall Street Journal's reporting: "Torture and starvation are routine in a vast network of North Korean prison camps.... Around 100,000 people are held in five camps…. Tales from the gulag are grim. One inmate of a North Korean labor camp from 2015 to 2016 described having to bend bodies in half to fit as many as possible in an incinerator.... It wasn’t clear how the prisoners died, but disease, starvation and work accidents can kill swathes of inmates." There has been no indication that Trump will bring up these grotesqueries.
Yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron said he and other members of the G-7 might omit the United States from a statement of unity at the conclusion of their summit this weekend, because only six members "represent values." The United States once led Western civilization in the promulgation of international values. Now, under Trump, the U.S. is just another rogue state, like Kim's.