Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Korean summit about much more than Kim/Trump wrestling match

It was just a few months ago that Trump was threatening "fire and fury" and boasting, "My button is bigger than yours". He had Pentagon on a nuclear war footing and the U.S. armada sailing into Korean waters.
Big media is looking at the Singapore meeting as if it was a pro-wrestling event. Who will win, Trump or Kim? The talking heads on CNN ponder the question. Should Trump be shaking hands with a dictator? Has he done his prep work? Is Kim just playing him? Many Democrats hope to God that the Summit is a PR flop for DT and that he returns home without a feather in his fascist cap. Trump's base will stay with him come what may.

But the way I see it, once you cut through all the bullshit, the summit offers positive prospects in a dangerous, rapidly changing world order. With an economically self-confident China, now tamping down the trade war threat and working along with South Korea to push diplomacy on the Korean peninsula, both Trump's and Kim's hands have been forced.

With the U.S. declining in global power and stature and the atomic clock edging closer to midnight, these are dangerous times. Trump is playing on American fears of lost privilege and economic ruin.

Cold War with Russia, trade war with Europe, Canada and China, and Bolton itching for pre-emptive nuclear strikes against Iran and North Korea, and all this playing on our growing sense of national insecurity. Building on that fear and insecurity was the cornerstone of Trump's election campaign in 2016. Now it's seen as the only way out (aside from purging the voting rolls) for Trump and the Republicans in the November elections. The Summit changes none of this.

But remember, it was just a few months ago that DT had the Pentagon on a nuclear war footing and sending its lost armada into Korean waters (shadowed by Russian and Chinese war ships). Remember him saber-rattling, threatening "fire and fury", and boasting: "My button is bigger than yours..."?

Kim defied repeated economic sanctions and international pressure over its nuclear regime and vowed a “merciless response” to any US provocation. Hopefully, popular world pressure and current negotiations will put a damper on all that empty, but provocative, chatter.

To the people of the Korean Peninsula, who have suffered from war -- hot and cold -- for the past 68 years and more, with distorted economies and families on both sides of the arbitrary 38th Parallel torn from each other, both captives to superpower rivalry, this is about so much more than a personal rivalry between autocrats. The people on both sides of the line want assurances of peace on a nuclear-free peninsula, trade and normalization of relations, and ultimately national reunification.

None of those things will likely come out of this first round of diplomacy. But I'm glad the Singapore meetings are taking place. If nothing else, they buy time and pull us from the brink. And right now, time is the enemy of Trump and his Republican hangers-on.

Deja vu all over again?

The missing piece is still a powerful anti-war movement here on the ground. It was such a movement 50 years ago that pressured both Democrats and Trump's reactionary, Republican and anti-communist forbearer, Richard Nixon to finally end the war in Vietnam and normalize relations with China.

Deja vu all over again? Could be.

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