Trump broke the ice, but will results break the country?
I give Trump his due for meeting Kim Jong Un in person. And I say this despite the fact that I despise Trump. Back in 1969, I advocated the Israelis sitting down face-to-face with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as part of my religious school Salutatorian speech.
The Rabbi was not pleased. To many, advocating contact with Arafat at that time was akin to sitting down over a cup of coffee with Hitler during WWII.
I said then, and still believe, that Golda Meir’s famous quote, “You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist” applies to eyeball-to-eyeball diplomacy. You’ve got to be willing to sit down and talk openly, even if it’s perceived as legitimizing someone not deserving of the status. Of course, there are exceptions. But, all in all, I give Trump plaudits for the meeting—even though his motives reek of self-aggrandizement.
Talking broke the ice, but will the substance of those discussions ultimately break the country by further eroding respect and influence of the US on the world stage? Will seeming to kowtow to a ruthless dictator while dissing our allies do incredible, irreparable harm? Some say it already has; I want to observe for awhile to see how all of this plays out.
To those wringing their hands over Trump’s ingratiating himself with Kim Jong Un, I offer a few thoughts to keep in mind:
- Why would anyone trust anything Trump says or does any time with anyone for any reason? If he’s been consistent in any endeavor, it’s making himself totally unbelievable. He throws allies he once praised under the bus. He embraces, then rebukes, world leaders. He talks out of both sides of his mouth almost predictably. Bottom line, we have a bit of momentary “sunshine” in world diplomacy. It may prove to be something special, or just another theatrical, untrustworthy performance by Trump. Let’s wait and see what happens for a bit, let everything shake out somewhat, and evaluate what emerges.
- Trump has shown a proclivity for expressing admiration for dictators while discounting the relationships with long-established allies. He’s a bully who wants to measure up in the eyes of other bullies, so evaluate his actions accordingly.
- As for the outpouring of Democratic derision (as well as some from Republicans), remember that anything that improves Trump’s poll numbers works against them in the mid-terms. If Obama had done the same thing, it likely would have been the Republicans yammering about sucking up (with some Democrats flanking them). It’s politics, and the same folks who damn the Trump-Kim summit would be applauding if Obama had been in the spotlight—and vice versa.
All said, let’s wait for the talking heads of all stripes to finish blathering; then see what, if any, meaningful progress can be made on the US-NK diplomacy front.
Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience. AKA The Happy Curmudgeon, Mark has voted for Democrats, Republicans and a Libertarian in presidential elections going back 30 years. As the owner of a 34-year-old, Denver-based marketing communications firm, he is a political malcontent who often quips support for “Thunder the Wonder Puppy” as a presidential candidate. (Too bad George Carlin is no longer among us to make a run—although he likely would have known better.)
One reply on “International diplomacy: a many-splintered thing”
I agree that talking is better than torching, and since the two major characters in this morality play are both pathological liars, I think you are right to take a wait and see stance.