First Response to the Singapore Summit

There is a positive in many negative situations, and I suppose that Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un will be less inclined to misunderstand each other now that they’ve met and developed some kind of rapport. Perhaps Kim will not feel so threatened that he’s tempted to take some rash action that could escalate into a global conflagration. In the short-term, the risk of war including an exchange of nuclear weapons should be reduced. Considering the stakes, this is not nothing and it’s why I’m generally in favor of having dialogue with enemies of the United States and problematic world actors.

Having said that, this summit was ludicrous, morally bankrupt, and potentially harmful to our military readiness and our longterm commitment to the security of both South Korea and Japan. The Joint Statement is a laughable document. It says nothing of any consequence other than that both sides will work diligently at “recovering POW/MIA remains” from the combat phase of the Korean War. The DPRK reaffirmed a commitment to work toward “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” The key word is “reaffirmed.” In the agreement, the United States committed to little other than working to establish relations, but this was accompanied by a declaration that we will end “provocative” and “expensive” military exercises with the South Korean armed forces.

Leaving aside what Trump and Kim might have gained politically simply by agreeing to meet, Kim is going home with an enormous victory and Trump is coming home with no tangible prize.

The South Koreans were described as ‘blindsided” by the joint exercises declaration, as well they should be since this isn’t some simple negotiating chip but rather a key element of their military preparedness. The Chinese had been insisting that we cease these exercises in exchange for North Korea ceasing nuclear and rocket testing. In effect, if only informally, that’s the deal that Trump just struck. I would not call that the Art of the Deal.

We’re now best friends with North Korea,

A 2014 United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) report on human rights in North Korea stated that systematic, widespread, and gross human rights violations committed by the government included murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortion, and other sexual violence, and constituted crimes against humanity.

I found the way Donald Trump ignored this to be highly disturbing and the way he commingled our nations’ flags and talked repeatedly about how honored he was to meet with the North Koreans to be disgusting.

As I said at the top, I’m hopeful that something positive can come out of this summit, but overall it was a deplorable display.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.