Scoot: Did we win the Trump-Kim summit?

June 12, 2018 - 10:35 am

The dictionary is filled with descriptive words to sum up the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore, but the most accurate word might be drama. There were the pre-summit shows with formats and build-ups that paralleled any good NFL pregame show.  Then the game - I mean the summit – began; and while there was not actual coverage of the historic meeting between President Trump and North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un, there was running commentary on all three of the cable news networks that rivaled the play-by-play and color commentary you hear from the booth during a televised NFL game.  When it was over, there was post-summit analysis; and President Trump’s press conference seemed to play the part of the post-game press conferences when the coach comes out and talks about the big win - or loss.

But unlike when a football game ends, we don’t have a score yet on which side won.  There are the cheerleaders for President Trump who see the summit as convincing victory and there are the Trump haters that see the summit as an embarrassing loss. But there are many people - in the media and across America and the world - who are realistic enough to know that a winner cannot be declared.  In fact, there are many signs that the U.S. lost.  Honest assessment of the summit does not qualify as “anti-Trump” rhetoric.

Since I never feel beholden to the “right” or the “left,” I am compelled to be honest about the information that came out during the post-summit press conference with President Trump.  And I was awake to watch most the the 1:05 press conference.

The handshake was equivalent to the opening kickoff of an NFL game.  Who did better?  Many believe that the handshake was a win for Trump, since the visual of a POTUS shaking hands with a leader of the reclusive nation of North Korea was unprecedented.  But there are those who believe that Kim won the handshake because shaking hands with the most powerful leader in the free world will instantly boost his image as a leader and will make him more endearing to his people.  Every dictator needs a well-defined enemy to rally his people around him. And remember that the people of North Korea are mostly isolated from the outside world, including news.  The debate over who won the summit began with the handshake.

Secondly, from the information that came directly from the coach - Trump - during the post-summit press conference, we were told that North Korea would denuclearize their nukes; but there was only a reaffirming of past agreement to end the nuclear program.  Is reaffirming past agreements a breakthrough?  It seems logical that reaffirming the past does not constitute progress, but there is the hope that this time will be different.

Thirdly, there was the revelation that shocked the U.S. and particularly our allies in the region: President Trump announced that U.S. will halt “war games” - practicing with the South Korean military to act on any threats from North Korea.  President Trump went so far as to call the training session “provocative.”

In fairness, the President said going into the summit that the U.S. will give up nothing.  Ending the coordinated military efforts with South Korea is seen as a concession.  That announcement is also celebrated by China, which has never been happy with the strong U.S. presence in the region. 

Fox News reported that the President simply put the war games on hold and reported the Trump had convinced Kim Jong Un to denuclearize his country.  That was not apparent during the press conference, however.  There was the predictable spin on all three cable news networks.  I agreed with Fox News host Laura Ingram when she bashed the “other” networks because some were upset and critical of the sight of the American flag next to the North Korean flag.  That seems like a shallow-biased criticism.

President Trump made the point that halting the joint U.S./South Korean military training would save the United States a lot of money, which is true; but the President went so far as to say that he will work toward removing U.S. troops from South Korea.  I also agreed with Fox News contributor Sebastian Gorka, who said that it was a smart play to have Kim Jong Un in Singapore so he could witness influences from the West.  President Trump even commented that North Korea has great beaches and that they would be an excellent place for condos and the best hotels in the world. Wonder if Trump has any connections with helping North Korea build condos and hotels?

One of the strategies of easing threats from a dictator is to do business with the dictator’s country.  Kim could remain in power; but if North Korea were allowed to develop, it could be beneficial to America business and to the struggling economy of North Korea.  In most cases, countries that depend on each other economically are less likely to go to war.

During the long press conference, President Trump appeared to be in control and calmly and methodically answered questions from the news media without his usual contempt for the media.  But we have seen this Trump before only to see him bounce back to the other Trump with a day or two.  Let’s see what happens here.

This historic meeting between Trump and Kim gives reason to be hopeful - but not to the point of being oblivious to realities that lie beneath the grand photo-op this provided for both leaders.

And with Trump and Kim next to each other - the debate rages on: which as the worst haircut?

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