Brutal North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un got everything he wanted from the summit with Donald Trump.Â He got the photo ops and he got the legitimacy on the world stage, which makes him appear equal to the President of the United States in stature.
And then, in the news conference following the four-hour meeting between the two leaders, Trump announced that the U.S. would no longer participate in “war games” with South Korea, which is what North Korea had been demanding for years.
In exchange for giving Kim everything he wanted, it is not clear that the United States received anything of substance.Â Of course, Donald Trump claimed victory but that doesn’t mean anything.
One thing that is perfectly clear, however, is that Trump completely blindsided our longtime ally South Korea by his remarks at the press conference.
“We need to try to understand what President Trump said,” a spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in said. Which means they had no idea that Trump was going to do what he did, and they have no idea what promises Trump made to North Korea about South Korea’s military defenses.
The U.S. military was also blindsided by Trump’s announcement.
“The U.S. military command in South Korea has received no updated guidance on execution or cessation of training exercises,” said a spokeswoman, Col. Jennifer Lovett.
“In coordination with our [South Korean] partners, we will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance from the Department of Defense,” she said.
The American and South Korean militaries hold joint wargames exercises twice each year.Â In the games they practice attacking North Korea.Â The practice drills involve about 24,000 American troops and 300,000 South Korean troops.Â The U.S. also uses bombers such as B-1s and B-52s, along with stealth planes and nuclear-capable submarines.
North Korea has been demanding that the U.S. stop participating in these exercises as a condition to “denuclearizing” the Korean peninsula.
The exercises have become more aggressive in recent years as Kim made more threats about use of nuclear weapons. Recently they have practiced “decapitation” strikes for the purpose of removing the North Korean leadership.
North Korea always protests the exercises, especially the decapitation strikes against Kim.
Playing into Kim’s hands, Trump at the press conference called the exercises “very provocative” and “inappropriate” in light of the goal of achieving peace with North Korea. He also said the exercises were expensive and the U.S. would save a lot of money by stopping them.
The United States has conducted such exercises for decades and ending them would be a huge political “win” for Kim. Trump, however, tried to spin it all as a victory for him and the U.S.
“I think the meeting was every bit as good for the United States as it was for North Korea,” Trump said. But this is doubtful since it is not clear that anything of substance was given up by Kim.
According to the Washington Post:
“Trump sounded triumphant following his meeting with Kim, expressing confidence that the North Korean leader was serious about abandoning his nuclear program and transforming his country from an isolated rogue regime into a respected member of the world community.”
“But Trump provided few specifics about what steps Kim would take to back up his promise to denuclearize his country and how the United States would verify that North Korea was keeping its pledge to get rid of its nuclear weapons.”
Trump started his news conference by saying thatÂ he had “developed a very special bond”Â with the brutal North Korean dictator. It appears, however, that he was played by Kim and nothing of substance had been achieved.Â And by desperately trying to get his own political “win” Donald Trump may have just betrayed one of closest and most important military allies.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.