Trump at Berchtesgaden

There is simply nothing in this agreement that makes ​sense

Ok, I have to say it, because no one else is; the recent Trump/Kim Jong Un is a complete disaster. I will admit that I am a proponent of United States Presidents meeting with and negotiating with our adversaries. The Republicans blasted Obama for saying he would talk to the Iranians, to Castro and so forth. They were wrong. You do not negotiate with friends – you negotiate with adversaries. Negotiation is much preferable to all out war.

But negotiation with an adversary is on thing. To build up an adversary – who happens to be a brutal fascist dictator – as a good guy, is something completely different.

But make no mistake about it; Kim is a brutal dictator – as brutal as they come. In 2014, a United Nations Commission Reportconcluded that the that Kim and North Korean government was perpetrating "unspeakable atrocities" against its own people on a vast scale and committing “widespread, systematic and gross” violations that amounted to crimes against humanity. The Chair of the Commission called these atrocities “strikingly similar” to crimes committed by Nazi Germany in World War II. Crimes included rape, torture, and persecution of Christians, slave labor starvation and mass murder.

In addition, Kim has a systematic history of making agreements and then breaking them. Indeed, his nuclear program is a violation of past commitments. In the JOINT DECLARATION OF SOUTH AND NORTH KOREA ON THE DENUCLEARIZATIONOF THE KOREAN PENINSULAdated February 19, 1992, North Korea agreed that “South and North Korea shall not test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons.” Over the years, North Korea has made numerous other commitments in this regard, every one of them it has violated.

So when Kim strutted around Singapore like a rock star, and Trump heaped all kinds of praise on him, my stomach turned. When did we ever see a United States president give such unqualified praise to a fascist dictator? True, we have negotiated with dictators, from Stalin, Muammar Gaddafi to Raoul Castro and so forth. But never to my recollection has a United States President lavished such praise on any of them.

Trump says of Kim he is a “"very talented man” who “loves his country very much." Please. Kim has placed his countrymen in concentration camps, killed opponents and family. I suppose it takes some skill to be a fascist leader, but in no way does such a dictator love his country.

Kim walks from this summit completely white washed. Yes, we should negotiate. But to legitimize him in this fashion, to praise and flatter him, should be unthinkable.

Kim John Un was given a complete and total PR victory. Can one imagine a US President heaping such praise on Adolf Hitler, merely because Hitler vowed to give a particular weapon? One might think of Neville Chamberlain meeting Hitler at Berchtesgaden, but even there, Chamberlain did not lavish the kind of praise that Trump has lavished on Kim.

To make matters worse, Trump, supposedly the master negotiator, got outplayed. Kim’s big agreement is to work for the total denuclearization of the Koran peninsula. But as Kim understands it that means that the United States must withdraw its nuclear umbrella of protection. Moreover, it does nothing to end the brutal human rights abuses. Trump actually suggests that he will protect Kim in power and make him rich. Pardon me if I find that suggestion utterly stomach turning.

There is simply nothing in this agreement that make sense. Yes, it sure nice that we are not about to launch into a nuclear war, but history teaches us that appeasement never works. Does anyone think that Chamberlain mistake was that he did not heap enough praise on the Führer?

I cringe when Trump’s aid says of the prime minster of one of our staunchest allies that there is a “special place in hell” for him. Yet, a few days later, he says of a fascist dictator that he loves his country, and should be protected in power.

Trump walks from this deal with no leverage. Kim may have been forced to the table by crippling sanctions. But if sanctions are about to be lifted, does Trump really think that every other country will stick to the sanctions until Trump waves his magic wand? Of course not. Trump has already yielded all his leverage. A dictator has won. Democracy has lost.

Chamberlain’s deal at Berchtesgaden is probably one of the low points of British history, and may be the single act responsible for the collapse of the British Empire. I fear that history may repeat itself, and this action may be the downfall of the United States as a world leader, and certainly a repudiation of every principle that he hold sacred.

Comments
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FelixCulpa
FelixCulpa

Sort of; from what I understand the picture was taken backstage at a Jim Bakker sermon in the 1970's. Left to right: Rick Perry, Rex Tillerson, John Bolton.

FelixCulpa
FelixCulpa

Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition! But yes you're right about Trump I'm afraid. I think the Onion said it best "Trump agrees to reduce US forces in Korea in return for loosening of sanctions on N. Korea". At least I hope it was the Onion.

paulaloe
paulaloe

Editor

When I wrote this I was expecting to attacked by the Trump supporters and never considered there might be a Neville Chamberlain defense society. I am not sure it is really true that Chamberlain's move bought England needed time. England was woefully unprepared for WWII and German used the time to arm up far more than the allies did. But regardless of that, I see no evidence today that Trump is carefully using time to our advantage. He has now announced the end of joint military exercises with South Korea, undoubtedly strenthened Kim's hand with other countries and probably has weakened the international unanimity necessary to make sanctions work. Berchtesgarden is important because has set up an important historical lesson, which is why today we nearly allways take strong action when one country invades the territory of another. But the real historical lesson is that facists dicticators make promises that are worthless. Trump bargained for less than a promise. I can't imagine Kim ever giving up nuclear weapons now -- why would he when they got him exactly what he wants. We can fairly debate whether Chamberlain was or was not a fool, but with Trump, there really is no debate.

Jon Saltzman
Jon Saltzman

Editor

FelixCulpa
FelixCulpa said: While not particularly relevant to your point, you might want to go a little easier on Chamberlain. Though it's impossible to know his mind during the negotiations it's easy to see that force majeure was a consideration. When he came back waving his paper and proclaiming "peace for our time" I really can't believe that someone who rose to the post of PM was so delusional as to actually believe it himself, especially in light of what and who he'd just seen. I would suggest he had to feign trust to gain time. He gets dumped on pretty hard by history, but the deal did allow Britain the requisite time to assess German capabilities, and most importantly, TO REARM. If not for Chamberlain it's likely the Battle of Britain would have been fought much sooner, and predominantly with Gloster Gladiators, instead of Spits and Hurricanes. To say that the Munich Accord "may be the single act responsible for the collapse of the British Empire" is not accurate, fair, or just. With equal justification one could put the blame on the Paul Reynaud, Maurice Gamelin, General Lord Gort, Gandhi, Charles de Gaulle, or the man who proposed the Ten Year Rule in 1919, Secretary for War and Air, Winston Churchill. Personally, I would be more likely to credit Chamberlain with doing the necessary so that Britain was able to avoid being eaten by a Sealion, and so survive the war. The decline of the British Empire is not to be laid at one man's feet; and especially not in a post-WWII world limned by two overwhelming superpowers, neither of which was England. So yeah, lay off Neville.

Good point Felix. Historically speaking, Chamberlain found himself in a position where he was playing "musical chairs" and by the time he arrived on the scene, there were none left for him. He had the unenviable choice of throwing the Czech's under the bus or buy time to rearm Britain. People forget that WWI was devastating to Europe and 10's of millions died as a result or of influenza that swept the continent during the end of the war.

The threat of German airpower terrified people in England much the way that nuclear war feels to us now. The threat was real and people rejoiced at the reprieve.

Also, as we all know- the victor gets to write the history. Churchill had his sights set on taking down Chamberlain politically and did so just after the war broke out. Later on, Churchill said something to the effect of​ "Poor Neville, history will not be kind to him because I will write that history." And he did and it stuck to "poor Neville."

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