On Tuesday, two leaders of countries that have been at each other’s throats for more than 70 years met and signed a document that seems to lead toward peace and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula – a U.S. foreign policy goal since it became evident the North Koreans were developing nuclear weapons.
But North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can’t be trusted, President Trump got fleeced, we’re coddling dictators while criticizing allies of long standing, and there is no evidence any progress was made on any front, according to reporting from the Washington Post and Vox.
“After a slap at allies, Trump showers North Korea’s authoritarian leader with flattery,” read the headline on a Washington Post analysis. “Japan’s government was left without what it wanted most from the Trump-Kim summit,” read the tease for a story that questioned why Trump did not push harder to “reopen the issue of Cold War-era abductions.”
The tease on Dan Balz’s The Take – the Post’s lead analysis piece on big issues – went: “Trump-Kim statement offers scant concrete evidence to back up North Korea’s pledge to ‘complete denuclearization.”
Under WorldViews on the Post website, the tease read: “Ending military exercises? China has long backed that strategy.”
Vox had the most positive take of any mainstream media outlet.
“Breaking: Trump and Kim sign agreement pledging to work toward ‘a lasting and stable peace,’” read the headline. “It’s far from a peace treaty or a comprehensive deal to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. But it’s still progress,” read the subhead.
And the lead from reporter Jennifer Williams read: “The world just witnessed history in the making. A little before 2 p.m. local time in Singapore, President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed an agreement committing to work together to ‘build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean peninsula.’”
After 25 hours of flying, meeting, negotiating and signing, Trump sat for an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.
“The phrase in the document is ‘complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.’ Does that mean that the nuclear umbrella that we have over South Korea is on the table for negotiation?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“No,” Trump said. “That means that they’re going to get rid of their nuclear weapons. We never even discussed the other.”
“You’ve set the bar for nuclear agreements by criticizing the Iran nuclear deal, said it’s the worst deal ever made,” Stephanopoulos said.
“Terrible deal,” Trump said.
“Does that mean that any deal with North Korea has to be tougher than the Iran deal?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“I don’t think the deal could be any softer,” Trump said. “First of all, we’re not paying $150 billion.”
Stephanopoulos then asked Trump whether Kim told him he would get rid of his nuclear weapons and whether he would stop testing.
“How many months has it been, George? Seven? Where there’s been no missiles going out?” Trump answered.
The next few questions dealt with how Trump could trust Kim, who has tortured his own people and whether he’d changed and would honor agreements, unlike his father, who backed out, and how he would verify compliance.
Finally, there came a question about the G-7 summit last week in Quebec.
“You know, you’re reaching out here to Kim Jong Un – longtime enemy of the United States. Coming off of that summit in Canada with those tough words for the Canadian prime minister. How do you explain that to people who might be confused, that we’re reaching out to our enemies, antagonizing allies?”
Nothing about how this might change the world; just question after question about how he can trust Kim, why he would criticize Trudeau and what all he had given away.