Friday, April 27, 2018

Credit where it's due

Richard Nixon is rightfully remembered as one of the great villains of American democracy.  But he wasn't all bad.  He opened relations with China, appointed four mostly sane Supreme Court justices, and oversaw the establishment of the EPA among many other accomplishments.  Likewise, I believe that Donald Trump will eventually go down in history as one of the worst (if not the worst) president the U.S. has ever had, but I think he deserves some kudos for some of the recent developments in Korea:
The leaders of North and South Korea have pledged to jointly eliminate the risk of war and work together to achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. 
The joint statement Friday, from the border truce village of Panmunjom, concluded a historic one-day bilateral summit aimed at achieving peace between the longtime adversaries for the first time in more than sixty years. The meeting of the Korean leaders was the first in more than a decade.
Whether this actually leads anywhere remains to be seen, but the mere fact that this announcement happened at all is astonishing to me.   I thought a hot war in Korea was much more likely than peace overtures.  Just the change in rhetorical tone from Kim Jong Un is borderline miraculous.  A week ago I'd have given long odds against any of this happening in my lifetime.

I have no idea whether all this is happening because of or despite (or is completely indifferent to) anything Donald Trump has done.  But it happened on his watch.  If war had broken out I surely would have given him the blame, so he deserves some of the credit regardless of what his actual influence might have been.  I have a very hard time believing that the "little rocket man" rhetoric was helpful, but Mike Pompeo's visit certainly seems not to have set things back.

I still want to see Donald Trump go down in screaming flames because he is such an asshole, and I don't like to see assholes win.  But I grudgingly concede that he seems to have made more progress in North Korea than any of his predecessors.


coby said...

I can agree with the statement that these developments would not have happened without Donald Trump and I unequivocally support what is happening. But this is no strategic coup on Trump's part. What Trump has done is just made South Korea realize it is on its own and cutting the US out of the picture as much as possible became an urgent necessity.

Trump's belligerence may have been beyond the pale extreme but it was not a departure in kind from historical US positions. Without US obstinance, peace and general deescalation may actually be possible. Hurray!

coby said...

And for North Korea's part, I think they have largely achieved their goal of a nuclear deterrent and thus secured a strong bargaining position, and all that is in addition to the US disqualifying itself through incompetence. So what better time to enter negotiations than now?