South Korean President Moon Jae In and the people of South Korea may come to rue the day when Moon decided to let President Trump negotiate a peace agreement with North Korea’s communist dictator Kim Jong Un, especially given the close relationship that now exists between Trump and Kim. That’s because in the topsy turvy world of U.S. conservatism in which we now live, no one can reasonably discount the possibility that Trump could enter into a permanent settlement of the Korean War by agreeing to unify the country under Kim’s leadership in return for full and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea, which, under Tump’s America-first policy, is his top priority.
We all know that conservatives and Republicans have long respected and admired rightwing dictatorships, so long as they were pro-U.S. Coming to mind are Cuban leader Fulgencio Batista, the Shah of Iran, Guatemalan General Carlos Castillo Armas, Chilean Gen. Augusto Pinochet, Egypt’s General Fattah el-Sisi, and King Salman of Saudi Arabia.
Conservatives have always shown a disdain for leftwing dictators. In fact, the entire Cold War was based on the notion that the United States was in grave danger of being taken over by the communists and socialists and that nothing could be worse than that.
Not anymore. Under Trump, the conservative movement and the Republican Party are now obviously prepared to embrace leftwing dictatorships, as reflected by the monumental shift that has taken place with respect to Trump and North Korea. I’ll personally admit that I never for a moment thought that I would live to see the day when conservatives and Republicans were honoring and admiring a communist leader, and a brutal and tyrannical one at that.
Two things are now crystal clear: Trump deeply admires and respects Kim and, two, Trump’s acolytes deeply admire and respect Trump for doing so.
Trump tells us that Kim is an honorable man, one who can be trusted. Sure, he runs his country with “toughness,” Trump acknowledges, but as Trump points out, sometimes it’s necessary to be tough. And Trump assures us that the North Korean people love their communist dictator. Trump even jokingly envied Kim for how everyone hops to when Kim approaches. Trump says that Americans no longer need worry about being struck by a North Korean nuclear bomb because the communist leader of North Korea would never do such a thing.
There is something else that is quite apparent in all this: Trump clearly does not hold South Korea’s President Moon in the same high esteem that he holds Kim. In fact, it is the exact opposite. That was made painfully clear in the Singapore summit, which Moon was not invited to attend, either as a participant or even just an interested observer. In fact, given the way he treated Moon on the Singapore summit, one gets the impression that Trump puts Moon in the same category in which he places Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — as a “weak” leader.
Let’s not forget: South Korea is the country that North Korea originally invaded back in 1950. The Korean War has always been a civil war, just like the Vietnam War was. The U.S. government intervened in both civil wars and, ironically, under the notion that it was necessary to stop the communists over there before they came over here and got us.
Yet, when it came time for a historic summit to negotiate a permanent end to the conflict, Trump didn’t bother to invite South Korea’s president to participate or even just to serve as interested bystander. Moon was left home back in South Korea, anxiously waiting to hear what Trump had negotiated on his behalf.
That’s one of the sad aspects of all this — that the president of South Korea himself has adopted a subservient and deferential attitude toward Trump by permitting him to do the negotiating. In fact, when Trump initially canceled the Singapore summit, Moon immediately requested a meeting with Kim, not to try to reach a settlement between the two of them without Trump’s participation, but instead to plead with Kim to try to get the meeting between Kim and Trump back on track.
The South Korean people might well wish that their president had played an active and direct role in reaching a peace agreement. That’s because Trump’s Number One priority might well conflict with that of the South Korean people.
Trump’s top priority is to “denuclearize” North Korea. America comes first. What if Kim offers Trump an irrevocable commitment to destroy all his nuclear weapons right now and to let in the CIA and any other U.S. officials to monitor, supervise, and inspect anywhere they want, in return for the unification of Korea under Kim’s leadership and a friendly relationship with the United States?
Would Trump accept the deal? Given his admiration and respect for Kim’s leadership and his obvious lack of respect for Moon’s leadership, and given the topsy-turvy world of the conservative movement, can we really eliminate the possibility that Trump and his acolytes would accept such a deal?
After all, a pro-U.S. dictatorship is pro-U.S., whether it comes from the left or the right. Would the South Koreans feel betrayed over such a deal? Almost certainly. But no more betrayed than Eastern Europeans did after left-wing President Franklin Roosevelt delivered them into the clutches of the Soviet Union’s communist dictator Joseph Stalin, who FDR admired and respected as much as Trump admires and respects North Korea’s communist dictator.