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Nicholas Kristof: “There was… something frankly weird about an American president savaging Canada’s prime minister… and then embracing the leader of the most totalitarian country in the world.”

2018-06-13

In Nicholas Kristof’s op-ed in the New York Times yesterday, he variously described Mr. Trump as being “snookered”, “hoodwinked”, and “outfoxed” because he gave away a great deal to Mr. Kim and received very little in return.  It appears that he accepted Mr. Kim’s assurances that he wanted “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula, something he has had on offer since at least 1994, when he contracted in a treaty to end plutonium production.  That treaty was abrogated by the US under GW Bush because North Korea appeared to be secretly enriching uranium instead (an equally viable alternative method for producing an atom bomb).

Mr. Kim’s assurances that he would return remains of US soldiers missing in North Korea since the war are also nothing new.  Repatriation of remains has gone on since at least 1989 and very few new discoveries (of crashed planes, for example) are to be expected.  There are probably less than 3,000 American soldiers still missing who probably died in North Korea during the war.  Efforts to find the remains have gone on for thirty years already.

Mr. Trump has elided the issue of North Korea’s human rights record with a reference to “rough” conditions in that country, which the UN says has the worst human rights record in the world:

Likewise, Trump acknowledged that human rights in North Korea constituted a “rough situation,” but quickly added that “it’s rough in a lot of places, by the way.” (Note that a 2014 United Nations report stated that North Korean human rights violations do “not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”)

This statement by Mr. Trump is at least consistent; he has always sidled up to dictators and tyrants all over the world, while insulting leaders of free democracies.  He appears to have a special place in his heart for autocratic rulers and may himself aspire to be such a ruler.  It remains to be seen whether elements in the US that are capable of a coup d’ etat would offer him the top job in exchange for the support of his 1/3 of the American people.

Nicholas Kristof was struck by the irony of Mr. Trump’s insults to Pierre Trudeau, prime minister of Canada.  Mr. Trudeau appears to have enraged Mr. Trump by saying that he, Mr. Trudeau, would not allow his country to be “pushed around” by bullies.  It is unclear just what Mr. Trudeau said that was allegedly a lie– according to Mr. Trump.

(clown with balloons courtesy of pixabay.com and alexas_fotos)

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