Sunday, April 29, 2018

Beware of Smiling Dictators

It's on. The Kim Jong-un Redemption Tour is officially under way and like any other one-party, all-powerful, illberal, murderous dictator, he is smiling all the way.

Hello. I had my uncle shot. (Smile)

Hello. I had my half-brother killed in one of the most unique, sinister plots I could think of. (Smile)

Hello. I'm going to make nice-nice with our brothers and sisters in South Korea and meet with President Trump, who thinks I'm going to give up all of my nuclear weapons in return for some food and maybe some cultural artifacts. (Smile)

I'll believe it when I see it.

And here's the funny thing: Kim has a far more experienced foreign policy team than the United States does at present. The president, I fear, knows very little other than what's in his gut, which at any given moment has come from McDonald's. The new Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has been on the job for a little over two days and is more infamous for his dislike of Muslims than what he knows about global politics.

OK, you're right. Not funny at all.

Plus, I'm a bit unsure as to what "denuclearization" means. Are both Koreas supposed to give up their nuclear arsenals? Are the Chinese and the Russians supposed to give up anything? After all, North and South can't sign a peace agreement to end the war without the US and other countries that were involved in the fighting. And what about the Japanese? Will we be asked to stop supporting Japan with our nuclear weapons?

Or is this like my kitchen? I won't bomb my neighbor, but please don't ask me to give up my microwave.

So many questions.

And then there's that smiling Comrade Kim, knowing that he can go on killing, starving, harassing, jailing, intimidating, propagandizing, bankrupting and misleading his people because he probably watches FOX News and understands that the Trump Administration will not only turn a blind eye to human rights abuses, they'll go all Oedipus on us and take a stick to their remaining oculars.

That's the real payoff and Kim knows it. He will not be held to account for the truly terrible things he's done to his people and he'll extract something of value for his regime. The South might get a peace treaty, repatriation for citizens who were kidnapped by the North, reunification meetings for families, and a promise from Kim not to invade, which will help the government of President Moon Jae-in maintain its economy and security. The North will get pretty much everything else, including some food aid, which is great, but it certainly won't be enough to turn around an economy that's hovering about three inches above dirt level.

As for the United States? Kim will want something in return for his denuclearization, such as a promise that the US won't invade, but it also might involve us weakening our alliance with Japan and South Korea. And I'm sure that Chinese President Xi will be involved as well. Many of the news reports talk about how China has been sidelined or marginalized as Kim goes directly to the South and then will meet with President Trump. I don't buy a word of it. President Xi, unlike the other bombasts who've taken to the world stage in the past two years, knows the value of silence. And loyalty. Kim is not acting alone.

When all is said and done, though, the smiling dictator will go back to his country and dictate. Everything. Nothing of any value will change.

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