Trump And Kim Meet For What Amounts To Mostly A Photo Opportunity

The Singapore Summit meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un was about as substance-less as most analysts anticipated it would be.

On the other side of the world, while most of America slept, President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in what is admittedly a historic summit, but the outcome isn’t nearly as historic as the event itself:

SINGAPORE — President Trump concluded a historic meeting with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, on Tuesday, saying that denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula would begin “very quickly.”

In a televised ceremony held in Singapore, the two leaders signed a joint statement that Mr. Trump called “comprehensive.” In the statement, Mr. Trump “committed to provide security guarantees” to North Korea, and Mr. Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

But the statement was short on details. It was not immediately released to reporters, but it was legible in a photo of Mr. Trump holding it up at the ceremony.

Asked if Mr. Kim had agreed to denuclearize, Mr. Trump said, “We’re starting that process very quickly — very, very quickly — absolutely.”

The joint statement said the two nations would hold “follow-on negotiations” led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a high-level North Korean official “at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes” of the summit meeting.

It also said the two nations would “join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime” on the divided peninsula, meaning talks to reduce military tensions that could eventually lead to a formal peace treaty to end the Korean War.

“We had a historic meeting and decided to leave the past behind,” Mr. Kim said at the signing ceremony, adding that “the world will see a major change.”

“We’re very proud of what took place today,” Mr. Trump said. “I think our whole relationship with North Korea and the Korean Peninsula is going to be a very much different situation than it has in the past.” He said that copies of the document would be distributed and that he would speak to reporters later about it.

The signing ceremony came after several hours of discussions between the two leaders.

The day began with Mr. Trump shaking hands with Mr. Kim and hailing the start of a “terrific relationship.” Brash, impulsive men who only a few months ago taunted each other across a nuclear abyss, the two had set aside their threats in a gamble that for now, at least, personal diplomacy could counteract decades of enmity and distrust.

In a carefully choreographed encounter, Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim strode toward each other, arms extended, in the red-carpeted reception area of a Singapore hotel built on the site of a British colonial outpost. It was the first time a sitting American president and North Korean leader had ever met.

Posing before a wall of American and North Korean flags, Mr. Trump put his hand on the younger man’s shoulder. Then the two, alone except for their interpreters, walked off to meet privately in an attempt to resolve the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear program.

“I feel really great,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s going to be a great discussion and, I think, tremendous success. I think it’s going to be really successful, and I think we will have a terrific relationship. I have no doubt.”

A more sober-sounding Mr. Kim said: “It was not easy to get here. The past worked as fetters on our limbs, and the old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward. But we overcame all of them, and we are here today.”

Later, as the two leaders reconvened with top aides, Mr. Trump declared of the nuclear impasse, “Working together, we will get it taken care of.”

Mr. Kim responded, “There will be challenges ahead, but we will work with Trump.”

Their negotiators had failed to make much headway in working-level meetings before the meeting, leaving Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim with little common ground ahead of what could be months or even years of talks.

More from The Washington Post:

SINGAPORE — President Trump said he “developed a very special bond” with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their historic summit here Tuesday and proclaimed the start of a new era that could break a cycle of nuclear brinkmanship and stave off a military confrontation.

“Yesterday’s conflict does not have to be tomorrow’s war,” Trump said at a news conference in Singapore following more than four hours of talks with Kim.

Trump said Kim “reaffirmed” his commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and also agreed to destroy a missile site in the country.

“We’re ready to write a new chapter between our nations,” the president said.

Trump sounded triumphant following his meeting with Kim, expressing confidence that the North Korean leader was serious about abandoning his nuclear program and transforming his country from an isolated rogue regime into a respected member of the world community.

But Trump provided few specifics about what steps Kim would take to back up his promise to denuclearize his country and how the United States would verify that North Korea was keeping its pledge to get rid of its nuclear weapons, saying that would be worked out in future talks.

“We will do it as fast as it can mechanically and physically be done,” he said of the process to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons.

Trump announced that he will order an end to regular “war games” that the United States conducts with ally South Korea, a reference to annual joint military exercises that are an irritant to North Korea.

Trump called the exercises “very provocative” and “inappropriate” in light of the optimistic opening he sees with North Korea. Ending the exercises would also save money, Trump said.

The United States has conducted such exercises for decades as a symbol of unity with Seoul and previously rejected North Korean complaints as illegitimate. Ending the games would be a significant political benefit for Kim, but Trump insisted he had not given up leverage.

“I think the meeting was every bit as good for the United States as it was for North Korea,” Trump said, casting himself as a leader who can secure a deal that has eluded past presidents.

South Korea’s presidential office seemed blindsided by the announcement on the joint exercises.

“We need to try to understand what President Trump said,” a spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in said.

(…)

At his news conference, Trump called Kim, an absolute ruler accused of massive human rights violations, a transformational leader for his country.

“Today is the beginning of an arduous process. Our eyes are wide open. But peace is always worth the effort,” Trump said.

Trump said human rights issues were raised Tuesday, but he did not give details. He said American college student Otto Warmbier, who died last year days after release from a North Korean prison, “did not die in vain.”

After the series of meetings at Singapore’s secluded and opulent Capella resort, the two leaders sat beside each other and signed what Trump called a “very comprehensive” agreement setting the path forward for negotiations.

The document was not immediately released, but Trump held aloft a copy for news photographers. Images show that the agreement includes a pledge by Trump to “provide security guarantees” to North Korea, while “Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

When asked about Kim’s commitment to the process of getting rid of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, Trump said: “We are starting that process very quickly. Very, very quickly.”

But the document is an outline, with no specifics or deadlines, and it leaves the details on key issues such as how the United States would verify that North Korea had given up its nuclear program for future talks. It commits the two leaders to follow-on meetings and a new relationship between the nations, but it does not say that diplomatic relations would be opened.

“President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have committed to cooperate for the development of new U.S.-DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world,” the agreement reads.

The actual text of the statement is, perhaps not surprisingly, fairly stark and speaks mostly in aspirational terms that don’t commit the North Koreans or the United States to much of anything. Indeed, its four points of agreement are remarkably bland given the hype leading up to the summit and the glowing terms in which the President spoke this morning:

  1. The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
  2. The United States and DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
  3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula
  4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

Beyond that, the statement speaks most in generalized diplomatic language, speaks of follow-on negotiations, but generally does not commit either side to much of anything. Most importantly, the agreement completely sidesteps any agreement about what the word “denuclearization” means, and it’s unclear at this point that we’ve reached a point where the two sides are even at the point where they are talking about the same thing. As I noted as recently as yesterday, and have discussed several times in the past, it’s been clear for months now that the North Koreans, and their patrons in China, have a very different idea of what ‘denuclearization’ means. The statement does nothing to close that gap and, indeed, leaves it wide open to interpretation going forward. Unless and until we have some indication that the two parties are talking about the same thing, the suggestion that there’s been any agreement to actually do anything substantive is not only premature, it’s rather absurd.

For the United States and its allies in the region “denuclearization” means “complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of the North Korean program.” For the United States “denuclearization” means a largely one-sided deal in which the DPRK gives up its weapons and its research programs and the United States and the west give up, perhaps, sanctions relief and some loosening of restrictions on North Korea’s ability to participate in the international economy. From this perspective, the statement seems to make clear that the summit did nothing to come any closer to that goal, or even that the North Koreans would be willing to commit to it at some point in the future. Realistically speaking, of course, there are a million reasons why it seems hard to believe that the DPRK would agree to any deal that amounts to complete surrender of its nuclear weapons or its research programs. Given that, absent the inclusion of such an agreement then it’s hard to see this statement as any kind of a victory for the United States.

When the North Koreans talk about “denuclearization,” though, they speak of the “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” This means not only some action on the part of the North Koreans, but also the understanding that the United States would remove any nuclear weapons it may have in the region and that it would renounce the idea of providing South Korea and Japan with a “nuclear umbrella,” which is essentially the threat that any attack on an American ally. It is also fairly clear that the North Koreans also include in their definition of “denuclearization” the idea that the American military presence in South Korea, and potentially in Japan, which the DPRK has made clear it considers to be part of the nuclear threat posed by the United States. From this perspective, it appears that the North Koreans got exactly what they wanted. The statement refers to “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” which is precisely the language that the North Koreans, and China, have been using not only since the start of this year but for much of the past two decades. Given the general language of the statement that was signed today, the North Koreans can legitimately claim that the United States now agrees with the DPRK on this point even though it seems clear from the evidence outside the agreement that this isn’t the case at all.

Beyond the question of what “denuclearization” even means, the statement also sidesteps several other important issues. For example, there’s is no apparent agreement about issues such as verification or how the North Koreans would actually go about dismantling their existing nuclear weapons stockpile even if they did somehow end up agreeing to this at some point in the future. At his post-summit press conference, President Trump basically sidestepped the issue when asked about it but did mention that it would likely include participation by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA). The ironic thing about this, of course, is that the IAEA is also the principal verifier for the nuclear deal with Iran, and has indeed continually certified that Iran is in compliance with that agreement. Despite that verification, though, it was just last month that President Trump withdrew from that agreement based in part on claims that Iran was not complying with the agreement.

If there is an element to what came out of this summit that amounts to something substantive, it’s something that isn’t even mentioned, and it raises more questions than it answers. During the post-summit press availability that he held prior to departing Singapore for the day-long journey home, President Trump announced seemingly out of thin air the cancellation of the annual joint exercises between the American and South Korean military that have been conducted on a regular basis for decades now. These exercises, of course, have nothing to do with the North Korean nuclear program and everything to do with the conventional threat that North Korea has paid to its neighbors to the South since virtually the day that the Korean War ended in 1953. As noted, neither the South Koreans nor the American military seemed to have any knowledge that this was a possible outcome of the summit, or that any such thing would be announced today. It’s also unclear if this was something that Trump and Kim discussed in their meetings, or if it’s something that Trump came up with on his own. Whichever it is, though, this would be a major concession by the United States and it appears that it was made without getting anything from the DPRK in return.

Beyond this, though, it seems fairly clear that this summit ended up being essentially what many anticipated it would be from the beginning. Unlike most of the summit agreements of the past between the United States and the Soviet Union, this meeting did not end with the signing of any kind of enforceable agreement, nor did it end with any kind of substantive agreement that could form the basis for future negotiations that would lead to an agreement. At best, we have an agreement to agree and it’s not even clear what might be agreed to at some point further down the road. Kim Jong Un, on the other hand, got the international prestige and attention that comes from a first-ever for his nation face-to-face meeting with the President of the United States, and he gave up pretty much nothing in return to get it.  Instead of this meeting, there should have been a much longer negotiation process, resulting in a real substantive agreement, before we gave Kim the prestige that comes with being seen as an equal on the world stage alongside an American President. That, quite obviously, didn’t happen. Perhaps this will lead to something substantive down the road, but that’s going to require months if not years of future negotiations the results of which are impossible to predict at this point. In that case, I’ll be as happy as anyone else to see peace finally come to one of the most dangerous parts of the world. That’s still a long way off, and it’s impossible to say if this summit has even accomplished anything in that regard.  It was, as the title of this post suggests, really nothing more than a great big photo opportunity.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, National Security, North Korea, Politicians, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. All the summit appears to have accomplished is:

    1) Kim being treated like an equal to POTUS.
    2) The cancellation of the joint military exercises.
    3) A promise for more communication.

    The first two are significant concessions given to the North–and the third could have been accomplished with a promise of a summit should talks reach an adequate level of specificity. This is not fantastic deal.

    Also: Trump is treating Kim, a pretty awful dictator from a human rights POV, with far more respect than he does our closest allies.

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  2. Modulo Myself says:

    Missing the most important moment:

    BREAKING: Trump says he talked up North Korea’s real estate, beachside hotel opportunities in Kim Jong Un meeting.

    Bunch of North Koreans will end up being fleeced in a Trump time-share deal.

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  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Once again we see Dennison proving himself to be a terrible negotiator.
    He gave up war games and got noting in return. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

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  4. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    North Korea is getting more real estate in the US news outlets than Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia combined(I did not note anyone talking about the Mexican Elections, for instance). Kim is being treated as the leader of the superpower that he is not.

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  5. Kari Q says:

    I wonder if the “denuclearization of the peninsula” wording combined with the cancellation of the war games is a bigger deal than first blush would suggest? Will this not cause substantial damage to our alliances with South Korea and Japan?

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  6. michael reynolds says:

    @Kari Q:
    Yes, it damages our relationships with South Korea, Japan and China. Yes, it weakens us. Yes, it strengthens China. This was the inevitable outcome once the Clown-in-Chief opened his idiot mouth. Kim got everything he wanted, we got nothing.

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  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    World’s most expensive photo op?

    Also throwing SK under the bus?

    Also giving significant military concession (without consulting DoD in any way shape or form) and getting absolutely nothing in return?

    World’s greatest deal maker indeed.

    ETA and Japan has some tire marks too. thanx for the reminder Kari Q

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  8. Tony W says:

    Easy to see why a photo op is good for Kim. Hard to understand why this level of short-term thinking is good for the U.S.

    But here we are….

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  9. mattbernius says:

    I think Larison’s take is good — this wasn’t an incredible success, nor was it an abysmal failure. It’s at best the beginning of the beginning.

    It is worth noting that an analysis of the signed agreement shows that it’s essentially the same agreement that US and NK has been making for years:

    https://fsi.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/Negotiating_with_North_Korea_1992-2007.pdf

    So, this is, for the moment, the same old, same old bought at a far higher price.

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  10. CSK says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Look for the 2021 groundbreaking of the Trump Pyongyang International Resort and Golf Club, situated on the banks of the majestic Taedong River.

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  11. Kathy says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    (I did not note anyone talking about the Mexican Elections, for instance)

    Very likely His Most Serene Royal Majesty Manuel Andres Lopez Obrador, First Of That Name, will win the election in July.

    He’s like the rich man’s Donald Trump, except he’s actually a good politician and has some experience (but I repeat myself). Also, he will face a Congress divided among three major parties and a bunch of little ones in both chambers, so there’s a check right there.

    Back on topic, if I were in the Japanese government, I’d be pitching the idea of “looking into” developing a specific kind of nuclear reactor and delivery systems. Shouldn’t take more than two years from the word “go.”

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  12. Kari Q says:

    @Kathy:

    if I were in the Japanese government, I’d be pitching the idea of “looking into” developing a specific kind of nuclear reactor and delivery systems.

    If I was Japanese, I would certainly be thinking this.

    By the way, the usual Trump cheerleaders are proclaiming this a great accomplishment and “something Obama couldn’t do.” I’d ask if someone wants to break the truth to them, but they wouldn’t listen even if someone tried.

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  13. MBunge says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    So, after widely predicting that Trump’s approach to North Korea would produce disaster, what actually happens is a meeting that would be considered a modest success by the standard applied to all previous Presidential summits. Which, since Donald Trump is OBVIOUSLY an out-of-his-depth buffoon, actually makes it a resounding triumph.

    I will admit the most good to come of this it it helps distinguish between people like Larison, who hate Trump with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns but can still recognize reality, and people like most around here, who cannot.

    Mike

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  14. Kathy says:

    @Kari Q:

    If I was Japanese, I would certainly be thinking this.

    The timing is tricky. So secrecy would be of the utmost importance. after all, the Cheeto can end the nuclear umbrella in one tweet, and then it would be late, though not too late, to get started.

    Japan has a very large and highly developed industrial base, a nuclear industry, a working space agency, and more than enough scientists and engineers. All they may lack is tritium and the means to produce it. Even so, they can deploy simpler but effective fission weapons in a short time, and thermonuclear-tipped missiles in a few short years.

    By the way, the usual Trump cheerleaders are proclaiming this a great accomplishment and “something Obama couldn’t do.” I’d ask if someone wants to break the truth to them, but they wouldn’t listen even if someone tried.

    Oh, but they’re right: Obama couldn’t have legitimized a brutal dictator.

    Shame on him, right?

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  15. michael reynolds says:

    @MBunge:
    God you’re dense. Had this asinine exercise taken place under Obama or Hillary you’d be screaming ‘treason!’ and chanting ‘lock ‘er up!’

    Trump just paid $10 for the same nothing we’ve been getting for free. He just did exactly what everyone said he’d do: make concessions in exchange for empty promises, with an end result that weakens South Korea, weakens us, strengthens Kim and Xi and Putin. Kim goes home a hero, Xi is laughing his ass off, and Don thinks he’s going to build a hotel, and you’re just thrilled. Yay! More promises! For which we gave Kim everything he wanted. Yay! MAGA!

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  16. mattbernius says:

    @MBunge:
    You are so full of shit it’s amazing.

    The president, in trading much more (photo op and no military exercises), got the exact same deal that you have been complaining that the “Experts” keep getting (without having a presidential summit) without any actual concessions from NK. In other words the exact same deal that you have been critiquing.

    How is that a “modest success” — its the same thing as ever previous time?

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  17. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Someone needs to ask Dennison, in light of his abject failure in the NoKo negotiations, why in the world he got out of the Iran Deal.
    That was a far, far, better deal than what was achieved yesterday.

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  18. Scott F. says:

    I think this summit has been a GREAT success… for its intended audience. For Kim, the pictures with Trump will play very well in the state run media. And as MBunge has already demonstrated, the Trumpaloons will eat this up as proof positive that Trump really is a dealmaker – even without preparation even. It’s win win for both despots.

    For their respective countries? Not so much.

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  19. CSK says:

    George Stephanopoulos interviewed Trump today. Here’s a classic Trump quote. The bolding is mine.:

    “[Kim] trusts me, I believe, I really do. I mean, he said it openly, and he said it to a couple of reporters that were with him that he knows that no other president could have done this, I mean no other pre-he knows the presidents, he knows who we had in front of me. He said no other president could have done this. I think he trusts me, and I trust him.”

    And there you have it. Flatter Trump–particularly by comparing him favorably to his predecessor–and he’ll give you anything. Anything.

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  20. Pylon says:

    The lesson: To enjoy respect and get concessions from the US, countries should develop nukes and threaten their neighbors.

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  21. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @MBunge:

    So, after widely predicting that Trump’s approach to North Korea would produce disaster, what actually happens is a meeting that would be considered a modest success

    It wasn’t a modest success. It was a huge propaganda coup for Kim and the United States got basically nothing. The greatest threat from North Korea is that are going to sell nuclear and missile technology, simply handshakes won’t change that.

    @Kathy:

    He’s like the rich man’s Donald Trump, except he’s actually a good politician and has some experience (but I repeat myself). Also, he will face a Congress divided among three major parties and a bunch of little ones in both chambers, so there’s a check right there.

    I don’t know what will happen in Mexico, that never had a left-wing government. But I find astonishing that US media spends to much time with North Korea and ignores a country that has Metropolitan Areas with American cities.

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  22. Kathy says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    I don’t know what will happen in Mexico, that never had a left-wing government.

    Well, the era of Echeverria and El Jolopo (not his real name), from 1970 to 1982, were very much to the left. State-run companies all over, and the expropriation and nationalization of the whole banking sector. Naturally with inflation and devaluation to match.

    His Majesty tends to attract radicals, and to spout radical rhetoric, but he governed Mexico City in 2000-2006 and he was centrist enough on the job. He’s more like a radical campaigner. I don’t want him to win, but it won’t be a disaster if he does.

    But I find astonishing that US media spends to much time with North Korea and ignores a country that has Metropolitan Areas with American cities.

    Because all hyper-inflated rhetoric aside, Mexico presents no threat to anyone, least of all America.

    Maybe we should develop nukes? I actually know a few people at the National Institute for Nuclear Research. They have a small reactor, actually. It’s a very nice place, very large campus done in mid-70s retro-futuristic style, set in a wooded area between Mexico City and Toluca.

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  23. teve tory says:

    Headlines at Breitbart right now:

    Kim Jong-un Commits to denuclearization: ‘We Have Left the Past Behind’

    Trump Hails ‘Special Bond’ Reached with North Korean Dictator

    Signs Document After ‘Historic’ Summit…

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  24. michael reynolds says:

    @teve tory:
    War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. We have always been at peace with North Korea. We have never been at peace with Canada.

    Trumpaloons: Yay! It’s all true! Praise him! I love Big Baby!

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  25. inhumans99 says:

    @MBunge:

    Dude, you need to shorten your posts and only type in “I love President Donald Trump” as your comment to any and all stories on this great blog. I mean that literally, just copy paste I love President Donald Trump (heck I just did a copy/paste, it is that easy) and put it on your computer/phone clipboard and there ya go. A reply for every story…OTB puts up a story on brush fires (hopefully, this years season is not as bad, but I digress as I am just throwing examples of potential stories at you), copy/past I love President Donald Trump, we will all understand that you agree that brush fires are bad, and you also love President Trump.

    OTB puts up a story on an asteroid that is actually going to hit earth, like that scenario from the CBS show Salvation, but y’know….real, and not involving a doofy “gravity beam” doohickey plot device, just copy/past I love President Donald Trump, we will all understand that you are alarmed by this news, and you also love President Trump.

    OTB puts up a story that President Trump gets approval from Congress to make all liberals dance like an organ grinders monkey anytime a bonafide conservative like yourself says dance son, dance!…copy/paste I love President Donald Trump, we get it, you agree with this policy, and you also love President Trump.

    Seriously, just make your reply I love President Donald Trump from this point forward, we can all read between the lines my friend and understand what you are trying to say.

    Happy Tuesday Mbunge!

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  26. @MBunge:

    So, after widely predicting that Trump’s approach to North Korea would produce disaster, what actually happens is a meeting that would be considered a modest success by the standard applied to all previous Presidential summits.

    My assessment of this summit would be the same for any president of any party at any time in our history: it accomplished nothing that couldn’t have been achieved without it, and it did so by making at least two major concessions to the North Koreans.

    I do not recall using the term “disaster”–rather, I said this would not produce anything of consequence. Indeed, as I wrote on April 12th:

    Let me reiterate: the nukes have done their job, the North is being treated with respect and the regime’s survival seems assured for the moment. What more could Kim want or expect? As such, I expect a lot of sound and fury that will ultimately leave us pretty much where we are.

    How is that not a more or less accurate description of what happened?

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  27. Scott F. says:

    @CSK:

    Well, in this matter, Trump is right.

    No other president would have gone half way around the world, to practically the North Korean leader’s backyard, solely to shake hands and have their picture taken with a dictator without first getting meaningful concessions. Kim knew Trump was too ignorant to understand what he was conceding on behalf of the US, so Kim played Trump Luke a rube.

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  28. Fun Fact: North Korea agreed to “denuclearization” in 1985, 1992, 1994, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016.

    Guess what happened?

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  29. Also: the folks who hated the JCPOA think something significant happened in regards to the North Korean nuclear program–which is why is rather hard to take then seriously as foreign policy analysts.

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  30. grumpy realist says:

    I get the suspicion that North Korea, China, and Russia can’t believe their luck at how easily manipulated Trump is.

    Let’s see how long the Norks can draw this out before Trump realizes he’s being played. My guess is forever.

    And probably the next piece in the chess game is the Chinese doing something similar (plus another handful of trademarks to Trump progeny) and gee, guess that’s the end of any support by the US for Taiwan. Poor Taiwan.

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  31. Gustopher says:

    I think the summit was a success for all parties — we have gone from laying the groundwork for a major, stupid war on the Korean Peninsula back to the usual status quo. It was Trump who put us in that bad position to start with.

    We paid a heavy price to undo President Trump’s own-goal, and we would probably have faired better with a ficus tree in the Oval Office for the past five hundred days, but we have successfully kicked the can down the road. Hopefully far enough down the road that it will be dealt with by competent people.

    But, we also now have momentum, and a new approach of actually attempting to talk to the North Koreans. That might prove crucial going forward, since our previous strategy of isolation just hadn’t worked for the past fifty years (and never worked in Cuba, Iran, Venezuala, or anywhere else…)

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  32. Kathy says:

    @Scott F.:

    No other president would have gone half way around the world, to practically the North Korean leader’s backyard, solely to shake hands and have their picture taken with a dictator without first getting meaningful concessions.

    I follow an aviation blog called “One Mile at a Time.” It’s mostly miles and points stuff (which I’ve no interest in), but there are trip reports and assorted aviation news. Yesterday they reported how Kim flew to Singapore.

    Turns out he borrowed a Chinese 747-8i, used by the Chinese president. Two Soviet-era jets, one Kim’s personal plane and the other a cargo plane, went along, but Kim used the Chinese Jumbo Jet.

    So there it is. A country whose leader can’t fly a relatively short distance outside his country without borrowing a plane from his patron, has commanded the attention of the world’s sole superpower, and managed to extract concessions (which, to be fair, affect him not at all).

    The optics are not good.

    Yes, nukes are a serious issue. South Korea’s and Japan’s security are a serious issue. Containing China is a serious issue. But it still looks as though the Tiger is afraid of the Mouse.

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  33. CSK says:

    @Scott F.:

    Kim thawt bubble: “You stupid, stupid sap.”

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  34. Mister Bluster says:

    Trump Told Mike Pence Not to Allow Any ‘F***ing Crazy Talk’ From His Advisers Ahead of Kim Jong Un Meeting: Report

    “Leave the fuking Crazy Talk to me!” sez Pud.

    President Trump announced seemingly out of thin air the cancellation of the annual joint exercises between the American and South Korean military that have been conducted on a regular basis for decades now. These exercises, of course, have nothing to do with the North Korean nuclear program and everything to do with the conventional threat that North Korea has paid to its neighbors to the South since virtually the day that the Korean War ended in 1953. As noted, neither the South Koreans nor the American military seemed to have any knowledge that this was a possible outcome of the summit, or that any such thing would be announced today.
    …this would be a major concession by the United States and it appears that it was made without getting anything from the DPRK in return.

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  35. Mikey says:

    @CSK:

    He said no other president could have done this.

    Which is, of course, nonsense. Kim, his father, and his grandfather have been all but begging to share the stage with American Presidents going back to Eisenhower. Any and all of them could have gotten a meeting with any and all of the Kims.

    But those Presidents–six Republicans and five Democrats–had the sense to understand what was really on the table, and therefore to say “no.”

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  36. teve tory says:

    Doug Mataconis says:
    Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 11:47
    Fun Fact: North Korea agreed to “denuclearization” in 1985, 1992, 1994, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016.

    Guess what happened?

    Thanks for the list. I went looking to collect those dates and after 10 minutes I only had 1992, 2005, and 2012, and I gave up out of boredom. 😀

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  37. Yank says:

    So, after widely predicting that Trump’s approach to North Korea would produce disaster, what actually happens is a meeting that would be considered a modest success by the standard applied to all previous Presidential summits. Which, since Donald Trump is OBVIOUSLY an out-of-his-depth buffoon, actually makes it a resounding triumph.

    Trump lackeys keep repeating how this summit was a success. So tell me what made it successful, what did we gain from it?

    Granted. I am arguing in bad faith here, because I already know the answer is nothing. But I enjoy listening to the nonsense idiots like you spout, so entertain me.

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  38. Slugger says:

    I see this as having some real positives. Nothing short of actual bloodshed can remove the Kims nor their nukes, and no American wants to spend the blood and money for such a project. Trump has formalized this which is what we all want anyway.
    Is there anything within a 500 mile radius of Seoul that the USA should be defending? Our military establishment has America’s soldiers on every continent and every conflict on earth. This senseless situation is not productive, but we have such a hyped worldview of good guys and bad guys that makes it very hard to step back from our intervention everywhere policy. Dropping joint US/SoKorea exercises is a good thing. Yes, in the future Japan and China might have a conflict over some islands with the Koreas taking sides, but I am o.k. with not getting involved in this. Humanity has seen tons of wars; staying out of most of the fighting worked well for the US in WW I and WW II.
    Trump is a dumb*ss, no question, but sometimes dumb*sses stumble into the right thing.

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  39. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Trump Told Mike Pence Not to Allow Any ‘F***ing Crazy Talk’ From His Advisers Ahead of Kim Jong Un Meeting: Report

    Pence: Yes, sir. Do you want your mouth taped or sewn shut? Also, hand over the phone.

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  40. gVOR08 says:

    Trump And Kim Meet For What Amounts To Mostly A Photo Opportunity

    And thank god for that. It could have been a lot worse.
    And actually it is a lot worse since the self proclaimed great negotiator popped off and unilaterally said he’d stop joint exercises with SK and Japan, and apparently a broad range of joint activities. Xi is still on the floor laughing his ass off. Do you suppose the Idiot realizes joint exercises are necessary to maintain readiness to support treaty obligations? Rhetorical question. Vote blue.

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  41. Mikey says:

    Koreas expert and Pusan National University professor Robert Kelly put it pretty well:

    Post-presser, let’s just say it: Trump is a dove on North Korea. There is nothing ‘strong’ about the following: 1. Gave the summit for nothing. 2. Ducked human rights. 3. Gave up milex with S Korea for no concrete concession. 4. Declared desire to remove USFK, also for nothing reciprocally defined. 5. Kicking around a peace treaty, also tied to no specific concession. 5. Criticized SK as cheap-skates, bc Guam-based bombers are costly. Apparently jet-fuel is so expensive, it’s worth casting aside a 60-year ally and friend. (Try to imagine Fox’s response if Obama had said something that petty.) Abe worried that Trump would throw Japan under the bus over short-range missiles. Actually he’s doing that to South Korea. If we don’t get something enormous for all this, this is very depressing.

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  42. KM says:

    @Yank:

    Trump lackeys keep repeating how this summit was a success. So tell me what made it successful, what did we gain from it?

    You are defining “success” in terms of benefits achieved, goals met or even losses incurred. You know, the normal one.

    They are defining “success” as “nobody’s currently on fire so we dun gud.” It’s the same definition you use when discussing things like binge drinking – success is not dying from your self-inflicted problem. They’re crowing about something with no substance because Donald didn’t start a nuclear war so therefore he won all the cookies.

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  43. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @KM: Actually, as far as I can tell, Trump’s fans decide success by two simple criteria. 1) Trump says it’s a success; 2) It pisses off da libruls.

    It’s really that simple.

    As for me, put me in the camp breathing a sigh of relief. This is a stupid deal, no doubt, but I feared much worse. Having to restart military exercises at a later date isn’t nearly as difficult as recovering from some other things he could have given away for nothing.

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  44. Kylopod says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Also: the folks who hated the JCPOA think something significant happened in regards to the North Korean nuclear program–which is why is rather hard to take then seriously as foreign policy analysts.

    This is what gets me the most: Trump has just done, in his meeting with Kim, an absurd caricature of everything he and other Republicans falsely accused Obama of doing with Iran. It’s cognitive dissonance on a nuclear scale.

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  45. MarkedMan says:

    One of our resident Trumpoids posited above that this whole cluster*ck was a “modest success”. First, he needs to get his story in line with the Trumpoid talking points. I’m sure by tomorrow this will be the greatest success in the history of mankind since Lassie saved Timmy from the well. Second, though, I’ve always had a morbid fascination with people like the Trumpoids, or the Palin-worshippers. It seems they share a lot with those who also gave their all (literally) to people like Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, even as the scandals were imploding their reputations. There seems to be a significant minority with a compelling need to worship some authority figure but who seem to deliberately choose an obvious phony and charlatan as that authority figure. I’ve noticed it for years but haven’t come up with any good explanation. Maybe if you commit to someone like Trump or the Bakers right from the start, i.e. people who are obviously faking it, then you can never be disappointed? I have a lot of admiration for Obama, and when he made what I thought were ill formulated decisions it bothered me. But a Trump worshipper will never have that disappointment because they are all in. What is the best possible move or policy or strategy? The one that is coming out of Trump’s mouth right this moment. “But”, we reality based people say, “That is the exact opposite of what he said 3 sentences ago!” And there we show our misunderstanding. They don’t worship what he has said. They worship only what he is saying,

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  46. mattbernius says:

    BTW, on a side note, it’s remarkable to hear so many talk about Obama’s Apology Tour fall silent when “their guy” calls longstanding US Military Exercises “provocative.”

    I mean it’s not like Trump adopted the very language of an hostile adversary to talk about our own military or anything.

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  47. michael reynolds says:

    @Slugger:
    Our strategic goal is to limit China.

    I, personally, want to limit China because China is an enemy of human liberty. And they are presenting an unfree model that is obviously attracting support beyond China. (46% in the US.) When we have ignored threats to human liberty, liberty is less rather than more likely to endure. As I value personal liberty above just about everything, I am opposed to China and the Chinese model and wish to thwart them. Ditto Russia.

    To that end the greatest limit we place on China’s rise is the encirclement of their coasts. We do this with allies – South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, who provide us with bases. Each of those countries has a version of democracy, meaning that they have voters. Insofar as those voters begin to see a power shift from the US to China they will inevitably begin to favor governments friendlier to China than to the US. This will accelerate the loss of US power and the rise of unfree governments.

    As China rises in influence in the Pacific it achieves the ability to enforce its will on economic as well as political matters. Within your 500 mile radius are 4 of our ten largest trading partners. Not to mention a rather large chunk of the human race.

    This summit reduced American power and prestige while raising China’s power and prestige. Added to Trump’s unprovoked attacks on our allies, American power and prestige just in the last week have taken a huge hit. It may be impossible to recover from this. Once the balloon’s been popped it’s damned hard to re-inflate.

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  48. Kathy says:

    You can sum the summit up in a T-shirt:

    I went to a summit with Kim in Singapore and all I got were some vacuous but nice soundbites. THE NICEST SOUNDBITES ANYONE’S EVER GOTTEN IN HISTORY!! MAGA, BITCH!!!

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  49. Slugger says:

    @michael reynolds: I think that China’s power will grow, but the rate will decline as the low-hanging fruit become harvested. I doubt that military confrontations will slow them much, nor will it get the regime to loosen the reins. Of course, whatever we think of their regime, we must acknowledge that it has brought a billion people out of poverty.
    I also think that our reliance on our military is misplaced. America’s strength came from technology and innovation and not from having our sons absorb bullets. Our military is like my 70 year old neighbor with his new Porsche. It is the finest, the fastest, the shiniest, but not really appropriate for his needs.
    I do respect your views and admit that you might be right.

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  50. teve tory says:

    @MarkedMan:

    It seems they share a lot with those who also gave their all (literally) to people like Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, even as the scandals were imploding their reputations.

    I have two extended family members who voted for Trump, who, in the 80’s, gave Jim Bakker literally thousands of dollars.

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  51. MarkedMan says:

    @teve tory: Assuming they are not borderline mentally incompetent, can you offer any insight on how they chose their idols?

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  52. teve tory says:

    Trump just “Bonded with” a dictator who runs gulags where hundreds of thousands of people are:

    *starved to death
    *worked to death
    *frozen to death
    *raped
    *executed summarily
    *born into the gulag

    and trump’s underlings say “there’s a special place in hell” for…Justin Trudeau.

    If you support trump, you are one dumb motherfücker.

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  53. michael reynolds says:

    @Slugger:
    Our strength has come from our military ability to steal most of a continent from native Americans and from Mexico, and exclude competing militaries from the western hemisphere. It also came from our military ability to open trade routes and ensure that they remained open. And it came from crushing the Japanese empire, the Nazi empire and the Soviet empire.

    We did not accidentally become the richest, most powerful nation on earth, we did it by a combination of extraordinarily favorable geography, some excellent early leadership, the ruthless suppression and extermination of competing domestic/local forces, our ability to attract talent, and yes, our creativity.

    There was a world war in the teens, a world war in the late 30’s and early 40’s and then 73 years of no world war. Why the 73 break in the action? The Pax Americana, enforced by US military power. Because of us and our power Europe is free and productive, ditto Japan, ditto South Korea, Australia and NZ.

    What Trump is doing is dismantling the structures of Pax Americana. He has no plan for what is to follow. So we are tearing down a structure that has kept the world largely at peace. That’s not a Porsche no one needs, it’s a Fire Department that you don’t need until quite suddenly, and without warning, you do.

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  54. teve tory says:

    @MarkedMan: They’re from a really poor area* of Kentucky and dropped out of school to help around the farm. Consequently they just don’t have the most basic education required to understand much of anything.

    (The county immediately west of Harlan County, if that gives you some idea of what I’m talking about)

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  55. Kathy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    What Trump is doing is dismantling the structures of Pax Americana. He has no plan for what is to follow. So we are tearing down a structure that has kept the world largely at peace.

    But the big question is “Why?” What does Trump have to gain by it, and what do his supporters expect to come from it?

    I think I have part of the answer: America spends a lot of money maintaining forces all over the world, and they resent every penny spent outside the country (even if it is to the country’s benefit). Further, if they think this deep, it’s not as if the US is an empire, like Britain was, with possessions and colonies all over, which pay taxes, tribute or provide raw materials or markets.

    If I’m right, then they’re all acting on the shallowest, most self-destructive short-term impulses on which to conduct foreign policy.

    If I’m right, then this attitude is not only self-destructive, but completely idiotic as well. If Germany spent the percentage of GDP on defense that it’s supposed to, or even twice that, would America spend even $1,000 less per year on its defense budget? Would the US Army afford now to withdraw a division stationed in Europe, or the US Air Force a squadron?

    Seriously, those of you who can, please vote Democrat in November, even if you hate the Democratic party. You need a real check on this madman.

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  56. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Kathy:

    Well, the era of Echeverria and El Jolopo (not his real name), from 1970 to 1982, were very much to the left. State-run companies all over, and the expropriation and nationalization of the whole banking sector. Naturally with inflation and devaluation to match.

    This kind of state run economy was pretty common in Conservative governments in Latin America, including in some right wing military regimes. It had to do more with fascism than with social-democracy.
    (But Mexico politics is a little bit confusing, since PRI is part of the Socialist International).

    His Majesty tends to attract radicals, and to spout radical rhetoric, but he governed Mexico City in 2000-2006 and he was centrist enough on the job. He’s more like a radical campaigner. I don’t want him to win, but it won’t be a disaster if he does.

    Maybe we should develop nukes? I actually know a few people at the National Institute for Nuclear Research. They have a small reactor, actually. It’s a very nice place, very large campus done in mid-70s retro-futuristic style, set in a wooded area between Mexico City and Toluca

    Brazil came relatively close to developing nuclear bombs(There was a secret testing site in the middle of the Amazon), Argentina also had a secret nuclear program. That’s one of the reasons that Brazil does not have access to technology to launch satellites in the space.

    These were the only two countries in Latin America that had nuclear programs. But even with that very few Americans seems to care. 😉

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  57. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Kathy:

    If I’m right, then this attitude is not only self-destructive, but completely idiotic as well. If Germany spent the percentage of GDP on defense that it’s supposed to, or even twice that, would America spend even $1,000 less per year on its defense budget? Would the US Army afford now to withdraw a division stationed in Europe, or the US Air Force a squadron?

    1-) People in both sides of the Atlantic agrees that Western Europeans spend too little on defense. France can send their troops to their former colonies in Africa, but they can’t do much more than that, like, for instance, sending troops to stabilize Libya.

    2-) On the other hand American troops in Europe are protecting American Interests, not Europe. They allow easy deployment to the Middle East and they allow the United States to counter Russia.

    3-) Trump loves Saudi Arabia in part because they are spending too much money on defense. That’s idiotic.

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  58. michael reynolds says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa: @Kathy:
    One of the many things Trump and his followers don’t get is that we wanted a weak Germany. France and the UK wanted a weak Germany. The USSR wanted a weak Germany. Had we allowed a strong Germany after 1945 there’d have been a third world war, this time with the USSR. So we got a militarily weak Germany, and now Trump is pissed.

    We have generally opposed a pan-European military force, not because it’s an inherently bad idea, but because it would give Europeans greater freedom of action. We wanted to maintain our dominance, we got exactly what we wanted, and now Trump is pissed.

    It goes without saying that Trump is too ignorant to grasp that in any war scenario – USSR/Russia vs. Western Europe, NK vs. SK, China vs. Japan, etc…, the local ally is spending less but risking far more. Russian tanks won’t be pouring into New Jersey, they’ll be in Germany and it will be German cities destroyed, German civilians dying. That was the unspoken deal we made in founding NATO: The US will carry the big stick and defend you, and in exchange we set the terms.

    As for why Trump is destroying the Pax Americana, simple answer: qui bono? The answers are obvious: Russia and China. Russia bailed him out when he went broke, China just spent 500 million on a Trump development project and gave concessions to Ivanka. Same situation in the ME where we are pointlessly antagonizing Iran in service to Israel and Saudi/UAE. Iran hasn’t paid Trump, the Arabs and Israel’s US supporters have.

    The Occam’s compliant answer is that Trump is for sale. As POTUS he sees the United States as another thing to sell for personal profit. He’s outraged that anyone objects. He thinks he owns the country, that it is just another property he’s bought and can do with as he pleases.

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  59. KM says:

    @Kathy:

    But the big question is “Why?” What does Trump have to gain by it, and what do his supporters expect to come from it?

    Your analysis missed one thing: age. Trump (and quite a few of his followers) doesn’t care about his actions because he’s not going to be around to live with the long-term consequences. He’s 71 and has two or three decades left at best -he’s only half a decade out from the average lifespan for white men in America after all and he’s in a high stress job! What does he care that he’s ruining the future? That implies he has one he’s going to be cognizant enough to live through.

    People like him don’t care about consequences because the real problems are down the road past their line of sight. They’re not going to see America humbled and no longer the world’s dominant power. They’re not going to see the climate wreak havoc on humanity. They’re not going to see oil run out and the mess that will cause. They’re not going to see an increasing portion of humanity permanently unemployable because there will be no jobs for them robots aren’t doing and the economic upheaval it will cause. They’ll have checked out in less then half a century before most of it hits the fan and subsequently DGAF in the worst way.

    Trump’s all about money TODAY. Anything else is Future Trump’s problem.

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  60. Kathy says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    This kind of state run economy was pretty common in Conservative governments in Latin America, including in some right wing military regimes. It had to do more with fascism than with social-democracy.
    (But Mexico politics is a little bit confusing, since PRI is part of the Socialist International).

    Mexico was a one-party dictatorship without a dictator. The president pretty much could do what he wanted, on two conditions: 1) he stepped down after a single 6-year term, and 2) take the blame for the mess he left behind, so the next guy could then do whatever he wants after he kind of cleans up.

    There was no clear ideology, past staying in power.

    These were the only two countries in Latin America that had nuclear programs. But even with that very few Americans seems to care.

    Each was kind of worried about the other’s ambitions. Fortunately they decided on bilateral action to cool things down. There have been few wars between nation states in Latin America, which is another thing few Americans notice. Plenty of civil and guerrilla wars, though.

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  61. Kathy says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    People in both sides of the Atlantic agrees that Western Europeans spend too little on defense. France can send their troops to their former colonies in Africa, but they can’t do much more than that, like, for instance, sending troops to stabilize Libya.

    I count that as a good thing. There was a time the European powers could, and did, project power all over. Remember the Napoleonic Wars? The conquest of sovereign states in Africa to make up for lost colonies in the Americas?

    Hell, the last time the French went on a military adventure, they birthed the Vietnam War.

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  62. teve tory says:

    Burgess Everett

    Verified account

    @burgessev
    Follow Follow @burgessev

    McConnell says he wants any agreement with North Korea to be submitted to Senate as a treaty

    11:52 AM – 12 Jun 2018

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  63. Kathy says:

    @KM:

    He’s 71 and has two or three decades left at best

    Now I’m really depressed….

    I can understand Trump won’t think of consequences, because he seems to live solely in the present. That’s how come he changes his tune every three seconds. But many of his followers have children and grandchildren, and one assumes at least some care about them. So they must think they’re gaining something now, and further something that will be good for their progeny as well.

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  64. Kathy says:

    @teve tory:

    According to this it would seem McConnell means a real agreement with terms, conditions, provisos, etc. not the souvenir signed today.

    I hope so. I was beginning to think Trump’s brand of stupid was contagious.

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  65. Kathy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Russia bailed him out when he went broke, China just spent 500 million on a Trump development project and gave concessions to Ivanka. Same situation in the ME where we are pointlessly antagonizing Iran in service to Israel and Saudi/UAE. Iran hasn’t paid Trump, the Arabs and Israel’s US supporters have.

    I would believe that for Trump, but the question of what his supporters gain remains open.

    Granted, his supporters want to see the whole 8 years of Obama undone, especially the JCPOA. But the rest of what the Cheeto is tearing up was built over decades by both parties. I’m sure Obama wasn’t involved in setting up NATO or the WTO.

    Also I expected Republican leaders to say something about the G6+1 fiasco. They began to stir with the steel tariff announcements, then they sort of went dormant again.

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  66. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds: I would add incredibly lucky timing in that it synced nicely with growing technical ability and capital to exploit all the resources we grabbed. We also grabbed a huge tract of probably the best combination of agricultural land and climate in the world. Of course now we’re screwing up that climate. And we got wonderful harbors on both major oceans.

    After the Soviet Union broke up and Russia liberalized, sorta, TV interviewed some Russian farmer standing in a village that looked like photos from my parents childhoods in ND going oh-boy, oh-boy I just got my own forty acres to grow corn. All I could think of was wait til that poor bastard finds out about Kansas.

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  67. gVOR08 says:

    @KM:

    he’s (Trump) only half a decade out from the average lifespan for white men in America after all and he’s in a high stress job!

    It’s only high stress if you take it seriously. On the other hand, once Mueller starts filing indictments and reports…

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  68. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kathy:

    I would believe that for Trump, but the question of what his supporters gain remains open.

    Fuhrerprinzip:

    The Führerprinzip [ˈfyːʀɐpʀɪnˌtsiːp] (About this sound listen) (German for “leader principle”) prescribed the fundamental basis of political authority in the governmental structures of the Third Reich. This principle can be most succinctly understood to mean that “the Führer’s word is above all written law” and that governmental policies, decisions, and offices ought to work toward the realization of this end.[1] In actual political usage, it refers mainly to the practice of dictatorship within the ranks of a political party itself, and as such, it has become an earmark of political Fascism.

    Right wingers talk freedom but what they feel is a desperate need to be led. Look how quickly and easily our local Trumpaloons surrendered beliefs they claim to have held, turned on people they claimed to admire. Most people, the Left to some extent, and the entirety of the Right, are sheep. They want order. They want to be told, not consulted. They want to be able not to think. They don’t want responsibility.

    It’s not a coincidence that the core of Trump’s cult are evangelical Christians trained to ignore facts, deny reality and object to any suggestion of individual conscience. They were raised from the cradle to close their minds and obey whatever pompadour-sporting, greasy-voiced, pseudo-Alpha male chanted slogans at them and told them they were special. What is Trump but another Jim Bakker or Jimmy Swaggart?

    What do they get out of it? Intellectual oblivion. The end of responsibility. Justification for their nastiest impulses. Trump opposition closely tracks with what factors? 1) Education, 2) Youth, 3) POC, 4) sophisticated environments. Trump support closely tracks what factors? 1) White, 2) male, 3) evangelicals, 4) age, 5) lack of education, 6) rustic environments.

    The defining Trump supporter is an old, white, uneducated male too fucking dumb to get out of West Virginia.

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  69. Yank says:

    This is what gets me the most: Trump has just done, in his meeting with Kim, an absurd caricature of everything he and other Republicans falsely accused Obama of doing with Iran. It’s cognitive dissonance on a nuclear scale.

    The one thing I pray people learn from all of this (I doubt it though) is that Republicans are usually arguing in bad faith when it comes to everything and shouldn’t be taking seriously when it comes to policy until further notice.

    It won’t happen though, but the country would be better off if it were to happen.

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  70. teve tory says:

    He’s 71 and has two or three decades left at best

    I was hoping to discover otherwise, but I just looked it up, and Trump’s dad lived to 93 years old.

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  71. teve tory says:

    official GOP twitter account is comparing Trump/Kim meeting with Reagan’s speech re Berlin Wall.

    GOP

    Verified account

    @GOP
    Follow Follow @GOP
    More GOP Retweeted American History TV
    And now, exactly 31 years later, @realDonaldTrump is making history as well.GOP added,

    0:58
    American History TV
    Verified account

    @cspanhistory
    “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” – #OnThisDay in 1987 #POTUS Ronald Reagan spoke at the Berlin Wall calling for the reunification of East and West Germany.

    10:30 AM – 12 Jun 2018

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  72. Mikey says:

    I was hoping to discover otherwise, but I just looked it up, and Trump’s dad lived to 93 years old.

    Scum like Trump will live to be almost 100, but we’ve already lost Anthony Bourdain.

    If I weren’t already an atheist…

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  73. An Interested Party says:

    I was hoping to discover otherwise, but I just looked it up, and Trump’s dad lived to 93 years old.

    Yes, but did the father live on a diet of McDonald’s with his only exercise consisting of picking up the greasy bags? And what kind of special person does all of this without consulting with our military and South Korea? Worst…President…Ever…

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  74. Kari Q says:

    @Yank:

    Bad faith, indeed. I keep thinking about how Republicans pretended to be concerned about Obama seriously damaging our relationship with the UK by moving a bust of Churchill. Good times.

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  75. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Right wingers talk freedom but what they feel is a desperate need to be led.

    I’m not so sure about that. they want someone to cheer, not necessarily to lead them. Besides, Trump couldn’t lead a toddler to the toilet.

    I’ve noticed two things. One is Trump’s supporters can’t stand feeling forced to be civil to groups of people they dislike. The other is there’s a degree of economic stagnation in America’s middle class.

    I can sympathize with the second point, and even a little with the first (even though I’m transgender and understand fully what minorities face regularly). I went years and years on the same salary, while costs and therefore expenses kept going up, and just recently got a real raise.

    So as to the first point, Trump is not PC at all (there’s the understatement of the century), so they’ll cheer him for that. To the second, he’s given them trade and illegal immigration to cast blame on. They’ll cheer him for that, too, until the chickens come home to roost.

    The problem with wage stagnation is a serious one that should be seriously investigated and solved, by whatever means are necessary. I don’t think restricting immigration further, restricting free trade, or even raising taxes are the root cause, but i also don’t know what is. I’ve a suspicion it’s a cultural matter, rooted in the word “maximizing” as in “maximizing profits,” and “maximizing shareholder value.” In both such instances, employees are not a resource to invest on, but rather costs to keep down.

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  76. Kylopod says:

    @Yank:

    The one thing I pray people learn from all of this (I doubt it though) is that Republicans are usually arguing in bad faith when it comes to everything and shouldn’t be taking seriously when it comes to policy until further notice.

    I definitely agree that Trump and other Republican politicians argue in bad faith. But most of those who vote for them do sincerely believe in the positions they hold, and they aren’t aware of the contradictions (at least not consciously). Sometimes it’s fueled by simple ignorance, like those stories of people signing up to health care plans they don’t realize are part of the hated “Obamacare.” But a lot of it reflects a worldview rooted in symbolism and myth. Since well before Trump came along, conservative voters have been heavily responsive to the notion that macho, aggressive talk from America’s leaders is the key to successful policy-making. These are the people who believe that the collapse of the Soviet Union had something to do with Reagan screaming “Tear down this wall.” You saw this attitude with Bush’s supporters as well, and you see it with Trump. They really think his “fire and fury” talk scared Kim into coming to the table, in contrast to Obama’s weak, wimpy “appeasement.” They’re incapable of understanding that foreign-policy goals are achieved by means other than who beats his chest the loudest.

    The way Trump talks is a testament to how much he thinks he can get away with. Past Republicans were more careful; they lied, but they at least made some effort to weave their claims into what sounded superficially like a coherent ideology. So with health care, for example, while they made it sound like they were the ones protecting people’s coverage from Democrats who were intent on making people lose it, they always framed it in terms of free markets vs. big government. Trump cast all that aside and said he was going to have the government take care of everyone for less money. His biggest insight was that GOP voters are unbound from the faintest shreds of a coherent worldview, and that all that matters is tapping into their most primal and visceral emotions.

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  77. teve tory says:

    Fun Fact: North Korea agreed to “denuclearization” in 1985, 1992, 1994, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016.

    Guess what happened?

    I just posted this (with attribution) on the Book of Faces and a friend-of-a-friend replied “Fun Fact: Trump’s gotten us closer to peace with North Korea that any president in History. Why do you not want peace? Do you think another Hillary War is a better outcome?”

    We took a quick trip to BlockTown.

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  78. Blue Galangal says:

    @Kathy: My mother and father haven’t spoken to me or my two kids (first two grandchildren; granddaughter and grandmother had (what seemed to be) a special bond for 20+ years) because the three of us voted for Hillary. Have not spoken since the election. Have been forbidden the house if we don’t apologise for our vote on bended knee. They did not attend oldest granddaughter’s college graduation.

    Thus I have no trouble believe Trump cultists can disregard the futures of their children and grandchildren. There is something evil and horrible at work here in the world and I don’t know what it is or how to combat it.

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  79. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kathy:
    If they don’t want to be led, why are they so easily led? Look at @Bung who isn’t a complete idiot, and is not simply stupidly denying reality, but actively participating in his own intellectual corruption. He fell in line instantly. Ditto JKB. If Trump says the sky is green, the sky is green. If three minutes later he writes a tweet saying the sky is yellow, the sky is yellow. Just two examples of men who are eager to be led.

    Let me give you a Jewish perspective: people who’ll be concentration camp guards aren’t the outliers, they’re the norm. They are average people. We are currently taking children from their parents and putting them in cages. Trump is considering building a prison ‘camp’ for 5000 children. Do you think Bung or JKB wouldn’t take a job taking little brown children and putting them in a camp?

    You’re an optimist, Kathy. People are cowards. They’re weak. Not 10% think for themselves. Not today, but six months from now, with a bit more indoctrination, either of those two would drop the Zyklon B pellets and tell themselves they were doing good.

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  80. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Just so you will know–although it is common usage–Taedong River is redundant. “Dong” means river, but in English “Taedong” (Tae River) is presented as Taedong River, I guess because “Tae” and “Dong” are not presented as two distinct entities.

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  81. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MBunge: If, in fact, anything good comes out of this “agreement,” good on Trump. I will remain skeptical, if for no other reason because future tenses in Korean are conditional of mood. Consult your high school English teacher if you don’t understand “mood,” “conditional,” or “conditional mood.” As it stands so far, throwing the USFK, Korean Military, Moon Jae-in’s government, and Japan under the bus, by agreeing unilaterally to cancel the military exercises does not, from my perspective (YMMV), constitute an auspicious beginning.

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  82. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Kind of like “Sahara Desert.” Sahara is Arabic for “desert.” There are a lot of terms in English like that.

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  83. Guarneri says:

    It accomplished exactly what it was supposed to – move the process to the next stage. No more, but no less. No negotiating experience here, I see.

    But have fun with your angry rants. It apparently satisfies a psychological need. And let’s face it, you guys haven’t been right about anything in a year and a half. It must be withering.

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  84. An Interested Party says:

    But have fun with your angry rants.

    Look who’s talking–someone who often foamed at the mouth about Obama…alleged businessman, heal thyself…

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  85. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: It’s that conditional mood. “We will [if it happens that we are able to do it in a way that meets our needs] denuclearize.” They NEVER went back on their word–it’s just not been possible to do, ever.

    ETA: One other thought: ” Realistically speaking, of course, there are a million reasons why it seems hard to believe that the DPRK would agree to any deal that amounts to complete surrender of its nuclear weapons or its research programs.”

    And one of them is that WE would not be likely to make such an agreement ourselves. In fact, we have balked on doing it several times during my sojourn on this planet.

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  86. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Slugger:

    …we must acknowledge that it has brought a billion people out of poverty.

    Well, not really. There’s still plenty of grinding poverty in China. What the change in policy really has accomplished is an expansion of the old fashioned kleptocratic oligarchy to a new generation of mixed entrepreneurs/government hacks/and party leaders.

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  87. One American says:

    @michael reynolds: they said he would never run, they said he would never be nominated,they said he would never win, they said he would never create jobs, they said he would be impeached in 20 minutes, they said he would never meet the dictator who has been threating to nuke my home. But all that happened so why not give Peace a chance, aren’t you guys exhausted by your hatred and negativity????

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  88. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Thank you. Where I read about it, it was referred to as the Taedong River.

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  89. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: There is plenty wrong with China but the uplifting of people out of grimdimg poverty is very real. Even in small towns in poorer provinces you can easily see the effects of better food on the height and weight of the people. Older people can be tiny, while their children are merely short, and the adult grandchildren equivalent to a random sampling of Americans. This change happened in Europe too, where WWII’s GI Joes were considered giants and now we are, though just as tall, unremarkable.

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  90. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @michael reynolds: There’s an old saw stating that NATO was set up to “keep the Russians out, keep the Americans in, and keep the Germans down.” I doubt that whatever agreement is reached between the U.S. and North Korea will have any substantive strategic rationale.

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  91. Kathy says:

    @Blue Galangal:

    That’s terrible. I hope they will come to their senses.

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  92. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    If they don’t want to be led, why are they so easily led?

    Maybe that’s a part of it. I agree, as you say, that most people don’t think for themselves. Most of them don’t even want to. But it’s impossible not to think for extended periods.

    So why Trump?

    There’s an aphorism that people can’t be led where they don’t wish to go. That’s not entirely true, but it is far easier to lead people where they do want to go.

    If Trump is leading, he’s leading them were they want to go. Otherwise they could simply have picked any other leader in the past and stuck with them. Why not Cruz or Rubio or Kasich?

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  93. Pylon says:

    I see NK is now saying Trump agreed to end sanctions (as well as military exercises). I wonder what else he gave them in return for nothing.

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  94. Blue Galangal says:

    @Kathy: There’s a reason Coco reduces all three of us to floods of tears every time we watch it … but we can’t stop watching it!

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  95. TM01 says:

    So… No pallet of cash. Sanctions are still in place.

    We got prisoners/hostages back, and we’ll be getting the remains of soldiers back as well.

    Where this ends up? Who knows. Hopefully a first step towards a non-nuclear NK.

    But way better than that JCPOA crap where we gave up the farm for nothing in return. I have a hard time taking seriously people who love the JCPOA and think Trump somehow lost big time here.

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  96. TM01 says:

    Nuclear power makes vague promises to do something non specific in the future in exchange for an end to sanctions.

    JCPOA: Good!
    Trump: BAD!

    Of course, the difference is we didn’t ACTUALLY give anything up to NK here.

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  97. @TM01: You are certainly entitled to your opinion.

    I would suggest, however, a bit more research on these topics.

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