From G-7 To Kim Summit, ‘A Bad Week For American Strength Around The World’
White House aides, ripping Canada’s prime minister over trade disputes at the G-7 gathering, vowed not to let him paint President Donald Trump as weak before his nuclear summit.
In reality, Trump weakened his own hand at both the G-7 and his sit-down with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. His conduct was unprecedented because Trump’s approach to the presidency — applying a narrow definition of America’s self-interest according to his personal whims — is unprecedented.
And there was no sign of the muscular outcome Trump aides craved. “It has been,” said longtime U.S. diplomat Nicholas Burns, “a bad week for American strength around the world.”
Before that gathering, he called for re-admission of Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin to the G-7 club. Afterward, he attacked the host prime minister as “weak”; offended by Justin Trudeau’s refusal to acquiesce, he warned that will cost Canadians “a lot of money.”
Trump invoked the same economic benefits in Singapore. He granted Kim’s wish to suspend U.S. military exercises with South Korea, noting “we’ll be saving a tremendous amount of money.”
Candidate Trump touted negotiating skill as his foremost credential for the presidency. Approaching the summit, he reveled in talk he could win the Nobel Peace Prize.
His eagerness did not produce concrete results. The document he and Kim signed, calling for peace on a denuclearized Korean peninsula, contained neither a timetable nor details of any kind. It was less specific than earlier statements by Kim’s predecessors.
Trump praises Kim
After meeting the brutal ruler, who has starved North Koreans and ordered the assassination of his own family members, Trump sidestepped asserting American values on freedom and human rights. He praised Kim as a “very talented” young man who took over his country and has “run it tough.”
“He said openly … that he knows no other president could have done this,” Trump told Stephanopoulos. “I think he trusts me, and I trust him.”
For foreign policy analysts, the good news was that the summit took place. Gritty negotiations toward denuclearization displace, at least for now, threats of armed conflict.
“Jaw-jaw is better than war-war,” said ex-Obama aide Tony Blinken, quoting Winston Churchill. “Trump should be applauded for that.”
Republican loyalists dismissed the idea that Trump surrendered concessions at all.
“In the words of John Lennon, ‘Give peace a chance,'” said GOP Rep. Bradley Byrne of Alabama. “We gave up nothing, unless you think a suspension of joint exercises with South Korea is something — which as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I don’t.”
“We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty,” John F. Kennedy declared.
Six decades later, Trump’s “America First” doctrine little values those alliances or the strength the U.S. derives from them. He wants money back.