March 1, 2019

US-North Korea Summit

We're officially on Insta! Did I throw on a blazer at 5 am for all you lovely people? You bet I did!

“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

“In theory, there’s no reason why a bad businessman can’t go on to become a good president. But a commander-in-chief whose signature legislative achievement expanded tax loopholes that he himself describes as grossly unfair is pretty much a bad president, by definition.”
Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

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

Others posit that “the reason Kim is developing missiles that can strike Seattle or LA is that 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea… If we cannot persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in return for a lifting of sanctions, perhaps we should pull U.S. forces off the peninsula and let China deal with the possible acquisition of their own nuclear weapons by Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan…

“After an exhausting two weeks [between North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and others], one is tempted to ask: How many quarrels, clashes and conflicts can even a superpower manage at one time? And is it not the time for the United States, preoccupied with so many crises, to begin asking, ‘Why is this our problem?’”
Pat Buchanan, Townhall

Counterpoint: “after the War of 1812, President Madison… enacted the Tariff of 1816 to price British textiles out of competition, so Americans would build the new factories and capture the booming U.S. market. It worked. Tariffs [also] financed Mr. Lincoln’s War. The Tariff of 1890 bears the name of Ohio Congressman and future President William McKinley, who said that a foreign manufacturer ‘has no right or claim to equality with our own… He pays no taxes. He performs no civil duties’… [A tariff’s] purpose is not just to raise revenue but to make a nation economically independent of others, and to bring its citizens to rely upon each other rather than foreign entities.”
Patrick J. Buchanan, The American Conservative

A libertarian's take

“The scoop reflects poorly on Trump, who willfully misled the public for a decade in hopes of fraudulently representing himself as a man with a Midas touch. But he could not have succeeded without the assistance of many Americans, some mercenary, others over-credulous, who helped to spread the deceit and deception, generating countless newspaper articles, magazine stories, and TV segments that misinformed the public about the publicity hound’s record in business. New evidence of his staggering losses in that decade therefore provides an apt occasion to reflect on the media’s complicity in Trump’s brazen deceit and deception… Let [this] be a lesson for today’s tabloids, gossip columnists, over-credulous or mercenary journalists, and reality-television producers.”
Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

On the bright side...

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