Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Washington Wrap: When the Donald Met Kim Jong-un

Omri Nahmias

The two don’t exactly like each other, but they are similar in at least two ways: a penchant for unpredictability and a tendency toward dramatics

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

 Mishpacha image

 

T here is a comic element to a potential Donald Trump meeting with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un (bombastic president meets bombastic dictator?), but given the consequences of the meeting, it’s not a sit-down to be taken lightly.

For Trump, it’s his chance to prove his skills as the ultimate deal-maker, and to be remembered in the history books as the leader who put the brakes on the North Korean war machine. He’s already drafting his Nobel Prize acceptance speech. As for Kim, this is his golden opportunity to buy time, and possibly cheat the West into easing sanctions.

However you look at it, Trump is taking a huge political gamble. Let’s hope he gets it right, because the consequences of a failed détente could be nuclear war.

Trump and Kim have a long history, going back to April 2013, when Trump, still an ordinary citizen who was playing with the idea of entering politics, tweeted, “Our President must be very careful with the 28-year-old wack job in North Korea. At some point we may have to get very tough — blatant threats.”

A little over a year later, in response to someone who suggested he visit North Korea, Trump tweeted that it was “the last place on earth I’d want to go to.”

By January 2016, when Trump was already on the campaign trail for the Republican primaries, he presented an unconventional approach to traditional Republican foreign policy. Addressing a crowd in Iowa, Trump called Kim “insane,” but also complimented him for succeeding in seizing the reins of power at the young age of 25. “You gotta give him credit… this guy doesn’t play games,” Trump said.

Just a month later, Trump already sounded a lot tougher. In a CBS News broadcast, he said that if he were elected, “I would get China to make that guy disappear in one form or another very quickly.” Without referring to Kim by name, he added, “This guy’s a bad dude, and don’t underestimate him.”

By May 2016, however, Trump had changed his tune. In an interview with Reuters, he said: “I would speak to him; I would have no problem speaking to him.”

Exactly a year later, after he was elected president, Trump called Kim a “pretty smart cookie,” saying that under the right circumstances, he’d agree to meet him.

But then Trump changed his mind again. At the beginning of August 2017, after the United Nations imposed punishing sanctions on North Korea after it tested intercontinental ballistic missiles, Trump stated that if the hermit nation tries to attack the United States, “they will be met with fire and fury.”

This led to an exchange of insults between the North Korean dictator and Trump, with Kim calling him, among other things, “an old lunatic,” and Trump countering with, “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend — and maybe someday that will happen!”

The barbs went from bad to worse, and at the UN General Assembly last September, Trump threatened that if North Korea tries to take on the US, the country will be destroyed completely. North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong-ho countered by calling the threats “the sound of a dog barking.” Later that week, Trump gave Kim the moniker “little rocket man.”

So the two don’t exactly like each other, but they are similar in at least two ways: a penchant for unpredictability and a tendency toward dramatics. How else can you explain that a short time after the South Korean delegation brought word to Trump that North Korea would like to meet, the president said yes? What other American president would do that? It’s the very unlikeliness that makes it likely.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 702)

Related Stories

Rose Report: Parents of Duma Suspect Speak Out

Binyamin Rose

Has the Shin Bet locked away a Jewish terrorist or innocent teen?

Metro&Beyond: Naftali Bennett, “Minister of the Jews”

Jacob Kornbluh

Naftali Bennett promises to spend big on the Diaspora to ensure a Jewish future

A Few Minutes with... New York State Assemblyman Walter Mosley

Jacob Kornbluh

New York State Assemblyman Walter Mosley on his emergence as a leading pro-Israel Democrat

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"