March 1, 2019

US-North Korea Summit

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“A second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Vietnam, was cut short after they failed to reach a deal on the extent of sanctions relief North Korea would get in exchange for steps to give up its nuclear program.” Reuters

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From the Left

The left credits Trump for walking away from a bad deal, but criticizes his naive approach to diplomacy with a brutal dictator.

“Kim thought Trump was so desperate for a deal—for a place in history and a distraction from his domestic troubles—that he would agree to anything. It is to Trump’s credit that he walked out upon realizing that Kim’s insistence on such an extreme, one-sided deal was immovable. But it is Trump’s fault for letting this near-inevitable disaster go forward in the first place. One lesson Trump should draw from this cock-up is that previous presidents had a reason for putting off summits until their diplomats lined up all (or almost all) the pins ahead of time. If Kim wasn’t going to budge an inch until all sanctions were lifted, there never should have been a summit.”
Fred Kaplan, Slate

“The collapse was a setback to Trump’s approach to diplomacy, which, under previous administrations, had been based on a summit as a final reward rather than as a starting point. The President argued that past diplomacy failed because only one person makes decisions in North Korea—therefore, diplomacy should start at the top, not end there. But Trump may now be forced to return to the traditional—and time-sucking—route of diplomacy.”
Robin Wright, The New Yorker

Many point out that “Kim did not come away from Hanoi empty-handed. Every time he meets with Trump, it raises the despot's stature on the world stage and lends legitimacy to his cruel leadership… On Wednesday, the American president told the world it was an ‘honor’ to stand next to Kim — whose murderous regime operates gulags filled with tens of thousands of people.”
Editorial Board, USA Today

Others ask, “what next?... Mr. Trump will not be yearning for another summit with Mr. Kim any time soon. Indeed, he may lose interest in the issue as he becomes distracted by the Mueller report, trade negotiations with China, Venezuela’s political crisis, and Indo-Pakistan relations. And if he gives up on diplomacy completely, then it’s either back to the fire-and-fury of 2017 or the de facto acceptance of North Korea as a state armed with nuclear weapons. Either outcome will make Americans less secure.”
Victor Cha, New York Times

“Barack Obama’s ‘strategic patience’... was a poor idea the first time round, and Pyongyang’s weapons programme is now much further advanced. But the fractious response North Korea gave last night suggests that worse outcomes are possible. Yes, the world is safer than when Mr Trump and Mr Kim were trading insults. But Mr Trump’s vanity diplomacy has strengthened the North Korean leader. A humbler, more careful and more pragmatic approach, seeking to freeze rather than eradicate the weapons programme, would have been a far wiser course.”
Editorial Board, The Guardian

Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right applauds Trump’s willingness to walk away from a bad deal, and hopes that his continued diplomatic efforts will eventually lead to a better deal down the line.

From the Right

The right applauds Trump’s willingness to walk away from a bad deal, and hopes that his continued diplomatic efforts will eventually lead to a better deal down the line.

Nobody said talking with the North Koreans would be smooth and painless. Indeed, it would be more surprising if there weren’t any obstacles or breakdowns along the road. Importantly, President Trump proved his critics wrong when he walked out of the summit rather than giving in to Kim’s unreasonable demand that the U.S. lift all economic sanctions on the North without first getting Kim to make a meaningful commitment to denuclearization.”
Daniel R. DePetris, Fox News

“It’s a mistake to confuse [Trump’s public flattery of Kim] for delusion. Trump knows how bad Kim is; in fact he laid it out in the 2018 State of the Union address. But Trump, committed to decreasing the hostility of the two countries in the hopes of making progress on the issue peacefully, has taken an unprecedented approach...

“Trump is trying to get the young Kim drunk on praise and fame with the promise that more will follow in greater degrees, if only Kim will accept the deal of all deals with President Trump and choose economic prosperity in exchange for his nuclear missile program… if those disappointed with the results of the summit want someone to blame, the blame rests with Kim Jong-un and him alone.”

Rebeccah Heinrichs, The Federalist

Some note that, “needless to say, failed negotiations or significant delays don’t mean that deals cannot happen or won’t eventually be made, but that they are going to take a lot longer than Trump has repeatedly promised. For those eventual deals and ongoing talks to be successful, let alone the political victories that Trump is counting on,he needs to present a realistic picture of what is actually possible and when.”
Erin Dunne, Washington Examiner

“Whether or not Democrats want to admit it, the process now underway is the furthest the U.S. has gotten with the North since 2007, when the Bush administration managed to get the Kim regime to agree in principle to the dismantlement of its plutonium reactor in Yongbyon (that deal would later collapse due to disagreements over verification). The White House ought to be given the time and space it needs to do the hard work necessary to have a chance at getting North Korea to denuclearize.”
Daniel R. DePetris, The American Conservative

“Looking back, President Ronald Reagan’s decision to walk away from the negotiating table in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1986 was one of the most important moments of the Cold War… By walking away, Reagan increased the pressure on Gorbachev and the Soviet regime — and with just a few years, it ceased to exist. The Soviet Union ended not with a bang, but with a whimper.Let’s hope history repeats itself.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“Why did Modi pick this moment to do something so radical? Violence in Kashmir had been trending downwards for the last year, after all. The main reason, besides President Donald Trump's alarming offer to mediate a settlement, is that he wanted a distraction from India's mounting economic woes. India's GDP growth dropped from over 8 percent to 5.8 percent over the last year, and it is widely expected to dip further. Just as ominous has been the crash in consumer demand. India's usual problem has been an insufficient supply to meet its voracious appetite for vehicles, cell phones, and other similar goods. But sales figures for all consumer goods have posted a precipitous decline, slamming businesses that are dramatically scaling back investments.”
Shikha Dalmia, Reason

On the bright side...

Cadbury is hiring people to taste chocolate like Dairy Milk and Oreo for $14 an hour.
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