You can tell when Donald Trump has just achieved something: he starts being strangely amiable, and his critics start frothing at the mouth.
He’s just met supposedly one of the most dangerous, evil men in the world — and made him look like a sweet overgrown child. He and Kim Jong-un signed an agreement and all the rolling news anchors talking about how ‘historic’ it is are for once not exaggerating.
‘Today, we had a historic meeting and decided to leave the past behind and we are about to sign the historic document,’ Kim said. ‘The world will see a major change.’ He also thanked Trump for the summit. ‘We’re going to take care of a very big and very dangerous problem for the world,’ said Trump.
Trump ducked the question everybody wants to know — has Kim promised full denuclearisation? And no doubt anything short of Kim of promising to turn into a post-Soviet Far Eastern version of Gandhi will be greeted with derision.
But the document does seem to contain a substantial agreement, if the camera lenses that snapped them in close focus don’t lie: ‘President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.’
On Twitter, professional Trump haters on left and right are sharing around UN reports of the horrors of the North Korean regime. And of course the details aren’t pretty: Kim is a tyrant who tortures and kills people. There are 200,000 political prisoners in the Hermit Kingdom.
But guess what? Trump has just given the North Korean people more hope than any other American president.
When Reagan met Gorbachev in Iceland, in 1987, people were quick to report that summit as a failure. Today is not quite so monumental; but it is nonetheless a big and optimistic moment. Jaw jaw always beats war war, and any foreign enemy who comes in from the Communist cold should be welcomed. It may all come to nothing. But it is progress. Trump has changed the realpolitik of the Korean Peninsula — no small feat.
Bitter sounding Democrats point out how the very Republicans now cheering Trump would be booing if Obama had ‘talked to a terrorist’ as the American President did today. That may be true, but Republicans would have been wrong then, and Democrats are wrong now. The point is, Obama never was able to make progress on the North Korean problem. Trump appears to be. Are we all so pathetically partisan — and eaten up with Trump hatred — that we can’t put the promise of peace above politics?