Donald Trump has a habit of heading down a rabbit hole where only he knows he hopes it will lead. He keeps friend and foe alike guessing, so even when he comes out of that hole smelling like a rose, no one can be sure whether he just got lucky, or that was how he planned it all along. Even Rachel Maddow, the most pragmatic of his media enemies, will have to admit he’s done this quite a few times.
I don’t know what President Trump’s knowledge about how large “face” plays in the cultures and politics of the Far East. But it’s Yuge. Moreover, no one is really sure if Kim Jung Un really runs the North Korean crime machine, or is the face of a larger collective. Personally, I lean toward the latter.
Either way, Face matters.
And by agreeing to meet with Kim face-to-face what has been proffered is a kind of Face never offered to the North Korean regime before. And since the South Koreans served as the middleman, no one even knows who actually laid this rabbit hole on the table.
We were at war with Kim’s grandfather for nearly three years in the 1950s, ending with an armistice that locked North Korea away from decent society, literally, a condition that persists today. It was Kim’s father who made the giant strides toward developing a nuclear capability, only no one is absolutely certain why. Self-defense? A source of income? Or the Korean idea of equality in the comity of nations? The Nuclear Club and the bragging rights?
Bill Clinton sent Madeleine Albright, his Secretary of State, to iron out a deal with Kim Jung Il’s representatives, which turned out to be a masterful swindle, where we gave them billions, boatloads of frozen chicken wings, and they gave us a promise on a piece of paper which they never truly intended to keep and we never intended to enforce. And they knew it.
Madeleine may as well have been Stormy Daniels, her signature was so worthless.
Since that failed agreement, and the appearance of this cherubic, rotund kid on the scene to replace what had to be the meanest man who ever slept on a futon, the nuclear game has slowly escala6ted, confirming the experts’ belief that extortion is still the game, and brinksmanship the tool that will keep it going[…]
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