Ever since President Trump incited his big crisis with North Korea, only to back off and ultimately fall in love with North Korea’s brutal communist dictator Kim Jung-Un, the entire exercise has had a weird, surreal quality to it.
Trump began the crisis by claiming that North Korea’s mere possession of nuclear weapons posed a grave threat to U.S. “national security.” Threatening to rain a storm of nuclear bombs on North Korea, Trump demanded that the communist regime “denuclearize” —that it destroy all of its nuclear weapons. During the crisis, Trump repeatedly emphasized that he would not permit anything less than full denuclearization because to do so would place the United States in grave danger of being struck by North Korean nuclear missiles.
By the time of the summer Olympics in South Korea in February 2018, Trump’s mindset had still not changed. Recall Vice President Pence’s sour attitude toward both North Korean athletes and government officials. In fact, we also should’t forget how Trump and Pence used Fred and Cindy Warmbier in their propaganda efforts at the Olympics to prevent South Korean officials from befriending North Korea.
The Warmbiers are the parents of Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who was convicted in North Korea of stealing a communist poster. North Korea returned him to the United States in a vegetative mental state, from which he soon died. The Warmbiers, along with Trump and Pence, were convinced that the North Korean communists had tortured Otto Warmbier to death, which was why Trump and Pence were using the Warmbiers as part of their anti-North Korea propaganda campaign at the Winter Olympics in Seoul.
But then Trump realized that his bluster and his nuclear threats failed to frighten North Korea into denuclearizing. That’s when Trump suddenly changed his tone and his attitude, agreeing to a summit with Kim, where “Art of the Deal” Trump was certain he would secure an agreement in which North Korea would denuclearize in return for the promise of lifting U.S. sanctions, which presumably would bring condo developments and other economic prosperity to the country.
At the summit in Singapore in June 2018, Trump ended up, by his own admission, falling in love with one of the most brutal communist dictators in the world and was even saluting his communist generals. It was never clear how Trump explained his newfound relationship to the Warmbiers, the ones whose son, they believe, had been tortured and killed by the North Korean communist dictatorship.
More important, in the process of this budding relationship between a socialist and a “capitalist,” Kim hoodwinked Trump into thinking that North Korea was on the road to denuclearization. But as I have repeatedly emphasized from the very start of this Trump-induced “crisis,” there was never any chance that North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons. After all, why should it? Its nuclear weapons are the best deterrent against a U.S. regime-change operation, such as those that the U.S. government has carried out in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, most recently, Venezuela, and so many others.
Of course, Trump has done his best to assure his new-found BFF Kim that he would never initiate a regime-change operation against North Korea. The communist regime could safely dismantle its nuclear weapons, Trump said, and never have to worry about the Pentagon and the CIA deciding to launch a regime-change operation.
But the North Koreans are not dumb. They know that the U.S. government can never be trusted to keep its word. Just ask the Iranians. And they also know that a regime that has hired two of the fiercest regime-changers in the country, ones who still have the old anti-communist Cold War mindset — John Bolton and Eliott Abrams — and that has a fierce anti-communist CIA director serving as U.S. secretary of state — is not the type of regime that is worthy of trust, at least not by a communist regime that U.S. Cold War dead-enders have labeled part of an “axis of evil.”
So, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Trump’s second love-fest with Kim has now come to naught. Another failure. North Korea hasn’t denuclearized and says it isn’t going to denuclearize until Trump has lifted his sanctions. Trump says that he isn’t going to lift his sanctions until North Korea denuclearizes. The two love birds haven’t broken up yet but they did walk away from each other leaving the status quo in place.
Which obviously leaves Trump in a rather awkward position. Do North Korea’s nuclear weapons pose a grave threat to “national security,” as Trump claimed they did when he first started the crisis with North Korea, or not? If so, what does Trump do now? Does he restart the crisis and begin threatening North Korea with a nuclear storm if it doesn’t denuclearize? If not, then what was the point in starting the crisis in the first place?
Reality One: North Korea’s nuclear weapons have never posed an offensive threat to the United States. It was bogus crisis from the beginning. North Korea knows that if it fired one single nuclear weapon at the United States, the entire nation world be nuked entirely out of existence. They realize that that is not in their interest, and that’s clearly not what they want. They simply do not want to be regime-changed by either the Pentagon or the CIA. That’s why they acquired nuclear weapons — to deter the Pentagon and the CIA from regime-changing them.
Realty Two: The North Koreans are never going to denuclearize. It would clearly not be in their interest to do so. Not only would they be subject to a U.S. regime-change operation, they know that the minute they destroyed their last nuke, Trump would immediately fall out of love with Kim and would begin treating him like Trump treats Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. Kim doesn’t want to be treated like Maduro. He likes having love-fest summits with the president of the United States. He knows that if he destroyed his nukes, there would be no more love-fest summits with Trump.
So, does that mean that there is no solution to the North Korean crisis? On the contrary. There is a solution. There has always been a solution. It’s really quite simple. The U.S. government simply needs to butt out entirely from the Korean conflict. The conflict was never any business of the United States. It has always been the business of North Korea and South Korea.
In fact, it’s easy to forget that South Korea is the other major party to this conflict, given that Trump didn’t even see fit to include South Korea in either Summit One or Summit Two with the North Koreans. That’s bizarre. It’s even more bizarre that South Korea didn’t demand to be a party to either summit.
Trump should simply bring his troops home, all of them, unilaterally lift all U.S. sanctions, and leave Korea to the Koreans. It’s their country. It’s their war. It’s up to them to resolve their differences, one way or another.
And in fact that’s what is already happening. North Korean and South Korean officials are trying to establish closer economic ties, which inevitably would serve as a prelude to better political relations. But guess who is standing in the way of their doing that. You guessed it — U.S. sanctions enforcers, who are using their sanctions to prevent South Korea from establishing closer economic ties with North Korea.
Not only would butting out remove the U.S. government as the principal impediment to peace in Korea, it would also mean that the American people would no longer have to witness the spectacle of having their president falling in love and holding hands with one of the most brutal totalitarian, communist dictators in the world and saluting his communist generals.