President Trump, never able to stay consistent on any issue, has continued ping-pong around in his comments on North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-un from calling him a “maniac,” “short and fat,” “a bad dude” and most recently “Rocketman,” to saying last May he would be “honored” to meet with the North Korean leader.
Trump has swung from saying that the October talks with North Korea would be “a waste of time” to this past Saturday at Camp David when he said, “I always believe in talking if something can happen and something can come out of those talks.”
Japan's PM Abe: "Now is the time not for dialogue, but for applying maximum level of pressure on North Korea." https://t.co/vQMgVb6XyA
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) November 6, 2017
For his part, Kim has warned Trump that he would “tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.”
Yet today when asked in an interview with the Wall Street Journal if he was open to direct diplomacy with North Korea after months of escalating tension, Trump said, “I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un.”
Pushed on it, Trump added “I have relationships with people. I think you people are surprised.”
When asked if he had spoken to the North Korean leader, Trump refused to comment. “I’m not saying I have or haven’t. I just don’t want to comment.”
The U.S. has no formal diplomatic relations with North Korea, and is technically still at war, but has used back channels to communicate in the past. In this case, the only thing that is really new is that North Korea just finished some talks with South Korea, with the North agreeing to send some athletes to the upcoming Winter Olympics.
— trump vs kim jong un (@AchtoutMe) November 6, 2017
Some have speculated that was an effort to drive a wedge between the U.S. and its allies in South Korea, but Trump seems to be onboard. He has agreed to postpone military exercises until after the games saying it sent “a good message to North Korea.”
Trump says he encouraged North Korea’s participation in the Seoul Olympics.
“The difference is I’m president,” says Trump, “other people aren’t. And I know more about wedges than any human being that’s lived.”
Trump insisted to the Wall Street Journal that he is very flexible, even in a situation like North Korea where he has frequently issued combative tweets at the country and its leader.
“You’ll see that a lot with me,” said Trump, “and then all of a sudden somebody’s my best friend. I could give you 20 examples. You could give me 30. I’m a very flexible person.”
Trump does seem to have a weakness for authoritarians and dictators whether they are from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, The Philippines or his longtime favorite, Vladimir Putin in Russia.
Whether this is a meaningful turn of events or Trump may turn against Kim Jong Un again tomorrow is unpredictable, and that is not a good thing when you are talking about diplomacy that can lead to peace or nuclear war.
“I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un” says POTUS of a man who called him a dotard and whom he called Rocketman & threatened with fire & fury the likes of which the world has never known. This is a concerning perception of reality. https://t.co/wt32Rqrihq
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) January 11, 2018
Trump may think his game playing is fun and that it keeps his enemies off balance. Heis right but it also keeps his friends off balance and unsure if his word can ever be trusted.
Those are not good qualities in a dictator and they are even worse in a U.S. president.