Donald Trump—the human equivalent of a teenage boy slumber party abundant in erections and pimples—has lately engaged in some tough guy talk regarding North Korea. And in turn, North Korea’s government has suggested that Trump stop tweeting pugnacious nonsense if he doesn’t want trouble. But amidst these crackling tensions, Trump has redirected course, remarking that he’d be “honored” to meet with the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un—that, indeed, the authoritarian dictator is “a pretty smart cookie.”
As the Associated Press reports, Trump introduced this possibility on Monday in response to Bloomberg News—a rhetorical move that renders the administration’s policy towards North Korea even more incoherent. Lately the White House has sought an appropriate strategy to address North Korea’s overtures of nuclear aggression.
And of course, Trump has tweeted his feelings on the matter.
North Korea has become one of the United States’s paramount security concerns. Flaunting the development of their nuclear program, the communist dictatorship grows nearer to building a weapon that could reach America’s mainland. And while North Korea consistently threatens to destroy the U.S., propaganda videos depicting our country’s fiery annihilation are no less unnerving.
In contrast with Barack Obama’s “strategic patience”—an approach Trump assesses as a “total failure”—the new administration had toyed with a more aggressive methodology. They have even contemplated a pre-emptive strike if Pyongyang administers one more nuclear test. But the White House has also considered more peaceful measures: renewed negotiations and food aid as soon as North Korea begins disassembling its nuclear and missile programs.
However, Trump’s flattering comments today extend beyond diplomacy and instead carry a legitimizing tone.
“If it would be appropriate for me to meet with [Kim Jong Un], I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,” he said.
Trump also noted with admiration the dictator’s early ascension to power—he was in his twenties—and his ability to maintain it despite “a lot of people” attempting oust him. Like any toddler, Trump appreciates clinging tenaciously to whatever you want, no matter how destructive it may be to others.
“So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie,” Trump said of Kim Jong Un on CBS’s Sunday edition of Face the Nation.
What Trump does not acknowledge are the brutishly oppressive means by which North Korea controls its population. To disagree with the government is to endanger oneself. Moreover, large swaths of the country suffer from extreme poverty and malnourishment.
It fell to press secretary Sean Spicer to address Trump’s praise of Kim and his willingness to meet with him. He assured reporters that no such meetings would be possible until Kim’s government adjusted its behavior and “[showed] signs of good faith.”
Said Spicer, “Clearly conditions are not there right now.”
And yet, the press secretary echoed Trump’s softer tone, ignoring the dismal realities of North Korea’s regime and remarking how Kim had “managed to lead a country forward” as a young man.
It’s worth noting that the United States is still technically at war with North Korea; the 1950-1953 conflict did not conclude with a peace treaty. As such, we haven’t fostered diplomatic relations with the country. Trump currently relies on China as the means by which any progress will be made.
Senator John McCain has voiced his disapproval of Trump’s more welcoming address; it remains to be seen what others’ reactions will be. However, McCain and his Republican colleagues have given us no indication that they will abandon party interests and rise up for the good of the country. It stands to reason that that will not change.