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Trump Got Played in Singapore, But That’s a Good Thing

by

Conservatives are a fascinating lot. Throughout the Cold War, they steadfastly maintained that the Cold War was necessary because communist tyrants were hell-bent on conquering the United States and subjugating the American people. That’s in fact why the U.S. national-security establishment intervened in the Korean War and the Vietnam War and sacrificed more than 100,000 U.S. soldiers — supposedly to prevent the communists in North Korea and North Vietnam from ultimately coming to America and taking control over the United States.

The conservative mantra throughout the Cold War was encapsulated by the title of a book written in 1962 by a conservative curmudgeon named Fred Schwarz: You Can Trust the Communists (to be Communists.) The idea was that the communists were incorrigible liars who had one goal in mind: the defeat and Red takeover of the United States.

Oh, how times have changed. Today, we have President Trump and his conservative acolytes telling us that North Korea’s unelected communist tyrant is an honorable man and a man who can be trusted to keep his word. Never mind that he is an assassin, murderer, torturer, censor, enslaver, and destroyer of liberty. Everything has now changed. You can trust the communist tyrants to be honorable people, people of their word.

Among the weirdest parts of this entire episode is that relating to Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who was returned by North Korean officials in a coma and then later died. Warmbier had been convicted of trying to steal a North Korean propaganda poster and sentenced to serve many years in jail at hard labor in a North Korean prison camp.

As recently as the 2018 Korean Olympics a few months ago, Trump was claiming that Warmbier’s coma was caused by brutal torture at the hands of North Korean officials. He was essentially accusing the North Korean communists of murdering Warmbier.

Today? Trump is saying that Warmbier’s death helped contribute to the Singapore summit between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un.

What? How in the world did the supposed murder of an American citizen by a brutal communist regime bring about a summit between Trump and the presumed murderer of Warmbier? Moreover, how did it lead to Trump’s remarkable conclusion that the supposed murderer is now an honorable man, one who tells the truth and can be trusted?

But that’s not the most bizarre aspect of the Singapore summit. The most bizarre aspect is that Trump, the self-described master of the “the art of the deal,” got played in Singapore and doesn’t even realize it.

There is one reason — and one reason alone — that Trump agreed to travel thousands of miles away to meet with Kim and praise, glorify, compliment, and honor him. Kim has nuclear weapons. If Kim didn’t have nuclear weapons, Trump wouldn’t have given him the time of day. Why, he wouldn’t even have invited him to play a round of golf at Mar del Lago, much less invite him to visit the White House. If Kim didn’t have nukes, he would be treated just like the socialist dictators of Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba are treated — with disdain.

That’s one reason why Kim will never give up his nuclear weapons. He knows full well that the minute he destroys his last nuclear weapon, he is back to being a nothing in the eyes of U.S. officials. On that day, he will be relegated to the position of being a tin-pot dictator of an impoverished Third World country, one who is either ignored by U.S. officials or, even worse, punished with sanctions or made the target of a regime-change operation.

Think about a multimillionaire. People cater to him. But if he suddenly loses his wealth and goes bankrupt, lots of people turn their backs on him and shun him. The same with a public official who has just lost his bid for reelection. Immediately upon his defeat, he fails to receive the honors and accolades he received when he had power.

Kim knows that that is precisely what would happen to him on the day his last nuke was destroyed.

After all, isn’t that what happened to Muammar Qaddafi of Libya? The minute he gave up his nukes, he was finished. U.S. officials treated him like he was nothing, even helping to kill him. The same with Iran. As soon as it gave up its nuclear program, U.S. officials treated the Iranian regime with disdain, knowing that it would be extremely difficult for Iran to resume its nuclear program. U.S. officials have also never shown a reluctance to turn their backs on their partners and allies whenever it suited them, as they did with Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

Look at the position into which Kim has maneuvered Trump. Before the Olympics, Trump was tightening sanctions, calling Kim names, and threatening to nuclear carpet-bomb North Korea.

Not anymore. There is no way that Trump can now call for tightened sanctions on North Korea. And how can Trump now condemn China for opening up trade with North Korea? No more name-calling either. And no more threats to rain death and destruction on the North Korean people.

Kim has maneuvered Trump into having to give peace a chance. Trump must now continue heaping praise, honor, and compliments on the communist tyrant of North Korea. Otherwise, he runs the risk of ruining his chances of winning the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Worst of all, if Trump resumes any of his pre-summit negativity toward Kim, he would have to admit that he was wrong about his assessment of this communist tyrant being an honest and honorable man. And if there is anything we can be certain of it is that Donald trump will never admit that he is wrong.

Kim knows that all he has to do is outlast Trump. That might not be too difficult. Kim is 34. Trump is 72. Moreover, Trump has to run for reelection. Kim doesn’t.

Okay, Trump got played, but that’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing.

Conservatives and other interventionists are lamenting that Trump has canceled the military exercises that the Pentagon and the CIA have been running with South Korean forces for decades without getting a “concession” in return. They’re accusing Trump of buying into North Korea’s propaganda by describing the exercises as “provocative.”

That’s a ridiculous critique. The military exercises are provocative! How else can one describe military exercises that involve B-52s whose mission would be to carpet-bomb North Korea’s towns and villages, as U.S. bombers did in the Korean War?

What the statists don’t realize is that Trump has to stop these exercises if he is to have a chance of winning the Nobel Prize. Remember: the only reason that North Korea has nukes is not to start a war with the United States but rather to deter the U.S. government from attacking North Korea or, in the event of an attack, to defend itself by threating to retaliate with nuclear weapons. North Korea’s position is very logical and rational: If we no longer feel any threat of a U.S. attack, we don’t need the nukes anymore, in which case we would be willing to destroy them.

Therefore, Trump is behaving quite rationally and logically by stopping the war games and also by raising the possibility of bringing all U.S. troops home from Korea. If he were to bring all U.S. troops home, that would obviously go a long way to convincing Kim that he no longer needs his nukes to deter a U.S. attack or to defend against a U.S. attack.

And that is precisely what Trump should do. Just bring all U.S. troops home, without getting any concessions! So what if Kim still has his nukes? Since he has them only to deter or defend against a U.S. attack, what difference does it make that he has the nukes if the U.S. isn’t planning on attacking? At that point, his nukes become irrelevant.

And therein lies the rub. There is no reasonable possibility that the Pentagon and the CIA will permit Trump to bring the troops home for two reasons: One, it would remove Korea as a flash point that helps justify ever-increasing budgets for the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, and, two, it would drastically reduce the possibility of the regime change in Korea that the national-security establishment has long longed for (like it still does with Cuba).

In fact, to make certain that Trump understands that he is permitted to operate only under strict parameters, when Trump cancelled the war games on his own — that is, without securing the permission of the national-security establishment — the Pentagon immediately clarified the situation by issuing the following statement: “Our alliances remain ironclad, and ensure peace and stability in the region.,” meaning “Those 28,000 U.S. troops in South Korea aren’t going anywhere.” No doubt that Trump got the message.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.