Posted by: minnow | June 13, 2018

Diplomacy or Photo Op?



So the last few days have been busy for our President. First the G-7 Summit in Canada on June 8 and 9 where he met with Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau of Canada, President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prim Minister Paolo Gentiloni of Italy, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe of Japan, Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom,  and the European Union’s Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Council President Donald Tusk  to discuss, among other things, international trade issues. Then off to Singapore where he met with the Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un to negotiate North Korea’s growing Nuclear threat.

Our Commander by Tweet informed the world, as he left the G-7 Summit for Singapore, that he instructed his representatives to not sign the communique hammered out by all the participants prior to his leaving Canada. “Why?” you might ask. Because Canada’s Prime Minister stated in a press conference what he had told the President in person: that Canada’s response to the steel tariffs imposed by the President would be to impose comparable tariffs on the United States. And, the President didn’t like it. As context, we do in fact have a trade deficit with Canada to the tune of $18 billion dollars. Yet, our overall trade with Canada is $582 billion dollars. In comparison, our over all trade deficit with China is $375 billion dollars and our over all trade with China of $636 billion dollars. Why does that matter? Well, while Canada is among the top ten nations to import steel to America, China is not.

Another significant tweet to come from the President this week is that North Korea is no longer a problem. What? That’s right. We can all, finally, sleep at night. North Korea agreed to dismantle its nuclear program. “What assurances do we have,” you ask?  Well: The President’s good feelings. Quoting from his interview with Greta Van Susteren: “I think he likes me. And, I like him.” The President further asserted, “We signed a document today which was far greater and more comprehensive than people thought. And, nobody thought this was possible.”

The problem is, the signed document is weak on details. The problem is, nothing–no verification plan, no timeline, nothing–was added to the document 45 and Kim Jong-un signed that had not already been signed by North and South Korea–last month. The problem is, this Summit was more valuable as a photo op–for both 45 and Kim Jong-un–than as a diplomatic mission for the United States. The problem is, 45’s base thinks it’s sour grapes not to cheer this “historic event”, not to embrace this “tremendous” agreement, not to finally concede that 45 is the best thing to happen to America since sliced bread. To his base: Don’t hold your breath.

While 45’s base might be easily taken in (though one wonders why since they all cheered when 45 pulled out of the Iran Nuclear deal even though it contains a verification plan because it wasn’t tough enough), students of history and politics have a few concerns. In an interview directly after the Singapore Summit, the President also announced a halt to the “war games” the US was playing with its ally South Korea. The actual term the President should have been looking for is “joint military drills”. But, what does it matter what he calls them, his disregard for our allies, as well as our own military chiefs, was communicated by his actions, not his word choice. The scrambling on the part of both Republicans and military personnel to assure the public that 45 didn’t actually mean…and we haven’t actually gotten any orders to stop…and…indicates that those in the know see a problem with what just happened. Still, the photo from the “historic Singapore Summit” will certainly be used to shore up the GOP base for the up coming election.  And that’s the news.

But, before I go, I’d like you to take a moment to scroll up to the photos at the top of this post. Those of you who think the American flag should always be treated with respect, that the way in which we use our flag matters, study these two pictures. Ask yourself–what are you seeing? What is implied by these photos? Who is the target audience? And, what questions should we be asking ourselves about what happened this past week?

In the photo on the Left, our flag stands as one of seven national flags and two European Union flags. In front of these symbols of freedom and unity are nine men and women who, at least at this point in time, represent the leaders of the free world. All of the nations represented hold free and democratic elections. They have constitutions and laws which protect their citizenry, guarantee opportunities for individuals, and embrace the principles of freedom and justice for all. They are not perfect, but they were conceived by blood, sweat, and tears in order to form more perfect Unions.

In the photo on the Right, one of the leaders of the free world, the President of the United States, stands along side the Supreme Leader of North Korea, a callous dictator. The US flag, a symbol to the world as well as to our nation of freedom and justice and equality, appears on equal footing with the flag of North Korea, a symbol, at least to the rest of the world if not also North Korea, of oppression and brutality. The documented human rights violations North Korea has committed under Kim Jong-un include: restricting all the civil and political liberties of its citizens with regard to speech, religion, and the right to organize for political, social, or economic reasons. The consequences of even being suspected of moving outside State restrictions include: arbitrary arrest and imprisonment without a trial or representation, torture, forced labor, and execution. Still, in this photo, a tyrannical regime has been placed on an equal footing with the United States.

Let that sink in.

Then ask yourself–who benefits? 


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