You could hear the cries of anguish and the gnashing of teeth emanating from Washington, D.C., and the isle of Manhattan, as the media and the political class mourned the coming of peace to the Korean peninsula. Max Boot, one of the primary leaders of the anti-Trump “Resistance,” declared that “For Kim Jong-un this is already a victory because he wants legitimacy, he wants a place on the international stage, he wants to be recognized as an equal by the president of the United States, he wants to seen as nuclear power, and he’s achieving all of that. This is a tremendous propaganda victory for him.”
This summarizes the reaction from the anti-Trumpers, who apparently really do believe that Kim derives his legitimacy from factors outside North Korea, and specifically from recognition by Americans, i.e. themselves. The narcissism of these people would be comical if it weren’t so dangerous.
This folderol about being “recognized as an equal” is similarly humor of the unintentional variety: does anyone, including Kim, really believe that a poor, isolated, and desperately poor regime is really the equal of the world’s sole “super-power,” no matter how many photo ops are taken with POTUS? Of course they don’t.
Does Kim want to “be seen as a nuclear power”? But of course North Korea is indeed a nuclear power – are we supposed to ignore this? And what about this “tremendous propaganda victory” – just how tremendous is it? Is it convincing the world’s peoples that the North Korean system is superior to liberal democracy? Nope. Quite the opposite: Kim has been driven to negotiate because his own system is failing.
Well, enough of refuting the easily refutable Señor Boot: what’s scary is that the “progressives” in the mass media and the thinktanks are repeating the same party line. Nancy Pelosi recovered long enough from her impending Alzheimer’s to denounce the summit as a bunch of “vague promises” with no “clear and comprehensive pathway to denuclearization and non-proliferation.” She continued:
“In his haste to reach an agreement, President Trump elevated North Korea to the level of the United States while preserving the regime’s status quo.”
Take a gander at this photo of Nancy greeting Saudi despot Mohammed bin Salman, whose regime beheads gays and doesn’t allow women to drive: she’s practically genuflecting at his feet! How’s that for elevating the undeserving? Chuck Schumer said the summit “legitimized a brutal dictator” – and, no, he wasn’t talking about Mohammed bin Salman, whom he met with. While a very few left-wing Democrats are supporting the President’s peace initiative, the party in general – and I mean the base – is viscerally hostile. And that comports with their rapidly evolving foreign policy stance, starting with their unhinged Russophobia: such are the consequences of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
So what did the summit accomplish?
First and foremost: it took place. For the first time, an American president and a North Korean leader sat at the same table and talked. The precedent – loathed and denounced by our War Party – means that this frozen conflict is slated to rapidly thaw.
Secondly, contra the nattering nabobs of negativity, the North Koreans are clearly committed to denuclearization: it is bluntly stated in the joint communiqué signed by both Trump and Kim. Critics are noting the lack of specifics, but that is for the diplomats to iron out: agreement on fundamentals is the natural prerequisite to a binding agreement.
Thirdly, the North Koreans made a number of concessions before the summit even began: they stopped testing nukes, they stopped testing ballistic missiles, they withdrew their opposition to the presence of US troops in South Korea, and they released three American citizens who had been held in captivity. Trump, for his part, ended the military “exercises” that take place annually on the peninsula, and said he’d like to withdraw US troops from the South.
The War Party is horrified: one of their most stable and longstanding scams is in danger of being brought to a well-deserved end: just think of all the economic and political interests that have a stake in maintaining this relic of the cold war. They’re all being threatened now, and that accounts for the chorus of outrage that has greeted the Korean summit.
Most outraged of all is the Washington Post, which, in league with the “intelligence community,” has embarked on a crusade to oust this President. In an editorial, the Voice of Bezos avers:
“A joint statement said Mr. Kim ‘reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.’ That language is actually weaker and less specific than what Pyongyang offered in several previous agreements – which it then flouted. North Korea’s definition of denuclearization, as laid out in numerous previous talks with U.S. officials, envisions a far-reaching US strategic retreat, including the removal of the American defense umbrella from both South Korea and Japan.”
Those previous agreements were all reached with Kim Jong-un’s predecessors, his father, Kim Jong-il , and his grandfather, Kim Il-sung: is it conceivable that the third Kim may be a different kettle of fish?
Surely this is so: Kim Jong-un has recently declared an end to the “military first” policy of his government, and redirected resources to the economic well-being of his people. He purged the military of hard-liners in preparation for the summit, and internal North Korean propaganda augurs an opening to the West that is unprecedented in the history of the “Hermit Kingdom.”
The hatred directed at the President for pioneering this peace initiative is truly amazing to behold: and it transcends all political categories. Even the supposedly anti-interventionist Cato Institute got in the act, although they’ve been degenerating under the War Party’s pressure for quite some time now. In Washington, D.C., war is the preferred alternative: peace is always an outlier.
Our President, however, represents the American people, not the Beltway, which is why he’s despised by the political class. It is precisely because he is the kind of President who will meet with the North Koreans, and call for withdrawing US troops from the Korean peninsula, that the “intelligence community” (i.e. the vanguard of the War Party) is determined to overthrow him. This is why James Clapper, John Brennan, and all the rest of the Deep State – and their foreign allies – are out to destroy this presidency. Trump is challenging the Empire – and that means he’s going after the bread-and-butter of a privileged class, the vast bureaucracy that manages and is always seeking to expand American hegemony across the globe. It’s an empire that doesn’t benefit the American people – only that thin sliver of it that owns “defense” industry stocks and benefits in some way from our foreign policy of global intervention.
Trump’s pronouncements at this summit sounded like a mix of Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa: “Anyone can make war,” he told the assembled media, “but it takes courage to make peace.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Finally, the significance of this historic summit is more than even Trump is claiming. The key to understanding this is in a video that was made by the Trump administration especially for Kim Jong-un. The brief but dramatic footage shows the history of US-Korean relations through the prism of war, subsequent confrontations, and the tragedy of a country divided. It also shows what could be: a modernized prosperous North Korea at peace with its neighbors, with gleaming skyscrapers and happy well-fed people – in short, a vision of what North Korean socialism promised but was never able to deliver.
All of which leads us to ask: what is being negotiated here? It’s not just about the North’s nukes: there’s no reason to hold out a utopian vision unless you’re trying to sell something much bigger and broader.
I believe – and I think our intelligence services recognize this – that Kim Jong-un is going beyond even what Gorbachev did, which was to make peace with the US without integrating into the West. My view is that the North Koreans, under Kim’s leadership, are taking a radical new turn: they want to abandon the old “Juche” system, and join not only the international community but the Western world. In short, they want what South Korea has: an alliance with the United States.
This is completely consonant with the history of North Korea, which has always sought to balance competing foreign interests against one another in order to maintain their independence. During the heyday of communism, they deftly maneuvered between the Soviets and the Chinese, favoring one and then the other, and avoiding domination by either.
Today they face the same conundrum, only with slightly different players: this time it’s China and the US. They are approaching the latter because the far enemy is less dangerous than the near frenemy. Just look at the logistics: an American attack on North Korea, while possible, is improbable given the projected casualties and the objections of the South Koreans, who would suffer incalculable losses. A Chinese “intervention,” however, is quite possible, and the recent history of Pyongyang’s relations with Beijing underscores the relative likelihood of this scenario, given the right circumstances.
Remember: Kim Jong-un executed his own uncle because he was accused of canoodling with China (to his own profit), and then had his half-brother – who was under Chinese protection in Macao – assassinated using a virulent poison. In both cases, the Chinese factor was dispositive. Despite all the uninformed noise – including from Trump – about how China and North Korea are allies and bosom buddies, the opposite is the case: they hate each other. Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the founder of the dynasty, regularly denounced the Chinese “Cultural Revolution,” and the Chinese under Mao were equally dismissive of their Korean “comrades.” And whatever resemblance to classical Marxism-Leninism the “Juche” (self-reliance) doctrine of the North retains is purely accidental: there are no statues of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin in North Korea. And don’t forget: the Chinese not only joined with the West in imposing sanctions on Pyongyang, they went the extra mile and sanctioned the North even more strictly than the US and its allies.
It’s easy to see how China could absorb North Korea: the US, on the other hand, is not about to conquer and colonize that country. Yes, the North fears American might, but they have good reason to loathe the Chinese more.
So what does all this mean?
For two full years I’ve been advancing my thesis of the Great Change: that we have entered an era of transition, not only domestically but also in the international arena. The last remnants of the cold war order are disintegrating before our eyes, and new arrangements are taking their place. Those who presided over and profited from the old order are angry that the seismic shift is endangering their pelf and privileges, and they are screaming bloody murder at the “craziness” of a President who doesn’t play by their rules. What they don’t realize is that their day is over – or, perhaps they do realize it, and this accounts for the virulence of their attacks on this President.
“Oh, how can you say Trump is the peace President – look at John Bolton!” My critics were certain that the Bolton appointment meant the beginning of World War III – hysteria being their natural state. These whining ninnies have now been shown up, and the paucity of their “analysis” is plain for all to see. Certainly the Korean people see it: they support the summit and the negotiations by a whopping 80 percent. Americans, too, support the summit, despite the 24/7 anti-Trump anti-summit propaganda being broadcast by our sick media. Yes, they are very sick with the disease of war mania, brought on by a near terminal case of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
This summit is a victory for peace, a smashing triumph for the Trump administration, and a beacon of hope for us here at Antiwar.com. The War Party, angry and grumbling at this huge setback, is in retreat: peace is breaking out on the Korean peninsula, and there isn’t a damned thing they can do about it.
Yes, the Koreans drove this process: President Moon Jae-in deserves much of the credit. But if not for Donald J. Trump none of this would be happening – and it’s driving the NeverTrumpers crazy. That’s because the anti-Trump movement in this country is increasingly tied to the War Party: they are in fact the same.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.