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Donald Trump, The Peace President

Trump and Kim Jong Un
One of the most interesting phenomena of the Trump presidency has been the apparent success of Trump’s “peace through strength” foreign policy.

Although President Trump gets scant credit, let alone any respect from the foreign policy establishment, his dealings with foreign leaders, particularly in the Asia – Pacific region seem to be producing results – despite the criticism of much of the foreign policy establishment and even many inside his administration.

Our friend Daniel McCarthy, writing for The American Conservative, explained this phenomenon this way:

Today the real merchants of death are not the arms dealers but those who sell the idea of war within America’s policy elite, both inside and outside of government. They possess a monopoly on respectability, and politicians who thirst for respect from the real governing class need little incentive to adopt the ideas of the smart set. Those who don’t play along get the treatment meted out to Ron Paul or Tulsi Gabbard—or Donald Trump.

Trump does not crave respectability. He supplies whatever desire for approval he feels from his own reservoir of self-esteem. This makes him seem arrogant and perversely proud of his ignorance, so far as his enemies see it, but in fact it means he is largely immune to the ideological virus to which virtually all other politicians are susceptible. Trump knows that the foreign policy establishment is bankrupt. And that’s what makes him a president who can actually give peace a chance.

In giving peace a chance Trump reminds us of President Ronald Reagan, who had a horror of nuclear war, even as he rebuilt America’s military after its nuclear strength had, during the Carter years, fallen woefully behind the Soviet Union.

After viewing ABC’s, The Day After, a TV movie about the aftermath of nuclear war, President Reagan wrote in his diary:

“I ran the tape of the movie ABC is running on the air on Nov. 20,” Reagan wrote in his diary on Oct. 10, 1983. “It’s called The Day After. It has Lawrence, Kansas wiped out in a nuclear war with Russia. It is powerfully done, all $7 million worth.”

“It’s very effective and left me greatly depressed … My own reaction was one of our having to do all we can to have a deterrent and to see there is never a nuclear war.”*

President Trump approached North Korea’s Kim Jong Un with a video aired at the conclusion of their first summit in Singapore that was intended to produce not depression, but hope:

"Two men, two leaders, one destiny. A story about a special moment in time when a man is presented with one chance which may never be repeated. What will he choose – to show vision and leadership or not?" a narrator says in the video, which includes clips of smiling people, new technology, skyscrapers and natural resources before transitioning, ominously, to explosions.

"There can only be two results: one of moving back or one of moving forward," the voice continues. "A new world can begin today – one of friendship, respect and goodwill. Be part of that world, where the doors of opportunity are ready to be opened – investment from around the world, where you can have medical breakthroughs, an abundance of resources, innovative technology and new discoveries."

Later, the narrator appeals to Kim: "Will this leader choose to advance his country and be part of a new world? Be the hero of his people? Will he shake the hand of peace and enjoy prosperity like he has never seen? A great life or more isolation? Which path will be chosen?"**

"I think he loved it," Trump said of Kim and his entourage, adding that they seemed "fascinated by it." "I showed it because I really want him to do something," Trump said, according to The Associated Press.

Of course, welcoming North Korea into the family of nations and allowing the Hermit Kingdom to enter the path to becoming a technologically and economically advanced country is anathema to the Washington War Party.

To the Washington foreign policy establishment, and War Party, North Korea must be kept isolated and firmly behind the highly militarized “demilitarized zone” until a long list of preconditions is met, including preconditions on human rights that our major trading partner Red China has not and cannot meet.

In Trump’s more realistic formulation, by building a relationship with Kim Jong Un, North Korea can be induced to move step-by-step toward the prosperous and peaceful future outlined in the video.

Whether President Trump’s approach of dangling peace and prosperity in front of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un will achieve long-term peace remains to be seen, but it is certain that over the past 50-years the foreign policy establishment’s efforts in Korea have failed, where Trump has stopped the missile launches and nuclear tests. Americans should give peace, and President Trump a chance.

*War is Boring, https://medium.com/war-is-boring/this-tv-movie-about-nuclear-war-depressed-ronald-reagan-fb4c25a50044

** North Korea summit: Watch the dramatic video that Trump played for Kim Jong Un, https://www.ajc.com/news/national/north-korea-summit-watch-the-dramatic-video-that-trump-played-for-kim-jong/3zPx1aj3SxDSUSBtxMxKpI/

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