Donald Trump has a habit of heading down a rabbit hole where only he knows he hopes it will lead. He keeps friend and foe alike guessing, so even when he comes out of that hole smelling like a rose, no one can be sure whether he just got lucky, or that was how he planned it all along. Even Rachel Maddow, the most pragmatic of his media enemies, will have to admit he’s done this quite a few times.
I don’t know what President Trump’s knowledge about how large “face” plays in the cultures and politics of the Far East. But it’s Yuge. Moreover, no one is really sure if Kim Jung Un really runs the North Korean crime machine, or is the face of a larger collective. Personally, I lean toward the latter.
Either way, Face matters.
And by agreeing to meet with Kim face-to-face what has been proffered is a kind of Face never offered to the North Korean regime before. And since the South Koreans served as the middleman, no one even knows who actually laid this rabbit hole on the table.
We were at war with Kim’s grandfather for nearly three years in the 1950s, ending with an armistice that locked North Korea away from decent society, literally, a condition that persists today. It was Kim’s father who made the giant strides toward developing a nuclear capability, only no one is absolutely certain why. Self-defense? A source of income? Or the Korean idea of equality in the comity of nations? The Nuclear Club and the bragging rights?
Bill Clinton sent Madeleine Albright, his Secretary of State, to iron out a deal with Kim Jung Il’s representatives, which turned out to be a masterful swindle, where we gave them billions, boatloads of frozen chicken wings, and they gave us a promise on a piece of paper which they never truly intended to keep and we never intended to enforce. And they knew it.
Madeleine may as well have been Stormy Daniels, her signature was so worthless.
Since that failed agreement, and the appearance of this cherubic, rotund kid on the scene to replace what had to be the meanest man who ever slept on a futon, the nuclear game has slowly escalated, confirming the experts’ belief that extortion is still the game, and brinksmanship the tool that will keep it going.
We still don’t know what whoever runs North Korea really wants, a real nuclear capability or just an equal presence?
No one knows what their true end game is here. Many experts argue, especially the dove wing of American politics, that once the North Koreans reach a certain level of nuclear capability, they will then be admitted into the Nuclear Club, just like all the others, and can then move into the more respectable neighborhood of the international community, and the comity of nations. The esteemed international chess player, Susan Rice has even told us, “Get used to it” in so many words. Of course, the hawk wing of our politics disagrees, warning that the extortion will have only begun once that fateful milestone is reached, and besides, they may actually use it…if their leadership, whether one, or a collective, are really raving psychopaths. We can’t afford to wait and see, they argue.
It truly is a crap shoot.
What has never occurred in the years from Bill Clinton on, has been the willingness of the president of the United States to sit down face-to-face with the Dear Leader of the Democratic Peoples Republic and speak of these many things in total privacy, where not even Adam Schiff or John Brennan can sneak out a leak.
Treat Kim like a national leader then let him scratch his head and try to figure out the bombast from the man he actually meets.
Democrats, even pro-American Democrats, have never cottoned to doing face-to-face’s with leaders so clearly beneath them. Yes, FDR met with Stalin, but they were making common cause with one another at the time. JFK lost his cavalier, patrician attitude about Cold War politics quicker than Stormy gave up her chastity when he met with Krushchev in 1961, totally losing his illusions about the job being a lark, his knees buckling as he left the meeting.
JFK quickly understood the enemy, forever changed. For probably the same reason modern Democrats don’t want to stare deep into the eyes of reality and be forever changed.
Democrats are condescending and smug and convey that air of superiority to most national leaders unless they have some special leftist cachet, like Fidel Castro or Yassar Arafat. To them the global community is an elite country club, and countries like North Korea come through the kitchen door and talk with their kitchen help. Why else would they kowtow to two generations of Soviet leaders while snubbing the Koreans for similar conduct?
In my view, meeting with Kim is a risk-free gambit for Trump for we already know he will give them nothing unless he can be certain about North Korea giving up its nuclear program. No treaty signatures. No sending in the IAEA to inspect. Any agreement Trump makes with Kim will be based on what is said, and the body language used in saying it, completely out of the public eye. And both will likely know it. Or they will come home empty-handed.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
All the former Kims knew our presidents didn’t mean what they said. This one, they likely do. If ever there was a time for them to come in out of the cold, this might be the only time that door will be open. And at least a few of the North Korean inner power circle know this. Somewhere back in Pyongyang, a few days after the coming summit with Trump, a few of these people will turn up dead.
Pray that it will be right ones.
Kim and his country may never have the opportunity to be respectable again.
It’s all about Face