During his interview with George Stephanopoulos, Trump basically gave Kim Jong-un a mulligan on all that stuff about starving his people, running a police state, forced labor camps, and assassinating members of his own family.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 12, 2018
In one sense, there’s some truth in what Trump is saying. When it comes to diplomacy, you deal with the world as it is, not as you want it to be (to borrow a phrase from Reinhold Niebuhr that Obama often quoted). I would simply point out that Trump’s biggest criticism of the Iran nuclear agreement was that it focused entirely on stopping that country’s development of nuclear weapons and failed to address every other issue we had with them. So his comments come loaded with hypocrisy.
But there is also some context that is required for these remarks from the president. Remember that time he told Bill O’Reilly that he respected Putin?
When O’Reilly pointed out that Putin is a killer, Trump said, “We’ve got a lot of killers. What…you think our country is so innocent?”
In contrast, the president just savaged our allies in the G7, particularly Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Dana Milbank captured these two extremes in an irony-loaded article titled, “Finally, a president with the guts to stand up to Canada.” He posits that perhaps Trump should disband the current G7.
Inexplicably, these foreigners are not putting America First. That’s why Trump needs to quit the group and make his own G-8 — the Great Eight — with more sympathetic world leaders:
Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who enjoys “a great relationship” with Trump as he deploys extralegal killing squads.
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, who is “very open” and “very honorable” in running the most repressive regime on Earth.
Egyptian dictator Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, who established himself as a “fantastic guy” with his bloody crackdown on dissidents.
The Saudi regime, which has been “tremendous” as it purges business leaders and critics.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is “getting very high marks” as he jails opponents.
China’s premier, Xi Jinping, who did something “great” in making himself president for life.
There is no room in this G-8 for Britain, France, Germany, Italy or Japan — and certainly not Canada.
Given the kind of loyalty we see among Republicans for Trump, this is creating a dangerous situation. Already the opinion of Vladimir Putin is on the rise among GOP voters. Then this morning on Fox News, a host equated criticisms of Kim Jong-un with criticisms of Donald Trump. That is another example of how the support for this president is increasingly cult-like.
It comes as no surprise to any of us that Trump is more comfortable with dictators like Putin and Kim—just as he has always been more comfortable with criminals in his business dealings. Add that one to the list of why he is unfit to be president.