Friday, March 01, 2019

Beneath our low expectations

The latest nuclear summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, thankfully, yielded no results. I say "thankfully" because while I felt there was little to no chance a substantive denuclearization agreement would be reached, I still had a slight concern that Trump would be so eager to claim a foreign policy success that he would be tempted to partake in a veritable crap sandwich. No, Trump merely walking away when it was determined this summit would not yield a favorable agreement was the second most desired result.

However, the post-summit press conference brought us perhaps one of the lowest moments of Trump's presidency (and that's saying something).

President Trump said Thursday North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told him that he did not know about Otto Warmbier's condition and Mr. Trump said "I will take him at his word." The American college student was imprisoned and sentenced to 15 years hard labor in 2016, but was returned to the U.S. in June 2017 in a coma after suffering severe brain damage. He died one week after returning to Ohio.

At a press conference after the Hanoi summit abruptly ended, Mr. Trump said he spoke to Kim about Warmbier.

"I don't believe that he would have allowed that to happen," Mr. Trump said. "Just wasn't to his advantage to allow that to happen. Those prisons are rough. They're rough places. And bad things happen. But I really don't believe he knew about it."

So if we're keeping score at home, Trump took the word of a brutal dictator, who (allegedly) ordered his own brother be killed, about the death of an American citizen as well as deferred to former KGB agent (and now Russian leader Vladimir Putin) over his own country's intelligence agencies regarding Russia's role in hacking the 2016 U.S. elections. Utterly outrageous and indefensible.

As you might expect, Otto's parents were less than enthused at Trump's delusion regarding their son's ordeal.

The parents of Otto Warmbier, who died of injuries sustained in prison in North Korea, issued a stinging rebuke to President Donald Trump for saying he believed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's claim that he was unaware of the brutal conditions under which their son was being held, or the abuse he suffered during his captivity.

"We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto," Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement Friday. "Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that."

Keep in mind this is a little more than a year later after Trump acknowledged the Warmbiers while in attendance at his first State of the Union address. I can't even fathom the betrayal they must have felt when Trump essentially gave Kim a pass this week.

A common retort I've heard from Trumpkins regarding the President's perceived deference to Kim and Putin is "Well, what did you expect him to do? Cause an international incident by punching their lights out?!?!?!" Honestly, such a sentiment is junior high level intellect. We need to look no further than President Ronald Reagan, who was routinely critical of then Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his commitment to communism. However, Reagan certainly didn't back away from his criticisms of certain regimes and yet was able to present a diplomatic demeanor while in summit meetings with world leaders.

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear such a balance is in Trump's DNA. Sad!


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