After his PR-driven summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, President Trump emerged to brag about a victory that did not appear to actually have been achieved. The joint statement he signed with Kim offers no concrete plans or timetables for denuclearization and appears to amount to little more than a regurgitation of promises North Korea has made and reneged on in the past.
Soon after, Trump declared that the United States would cease its joint military exercises with South Korea, something that the Kim regime has long desired. So far, it appears that Trump made the concession in good faith without getting any immediate concessions.
South Korea and Japan were blindsided by the decision, which demonstrates that, regardless of the wisdom of the decision, it was bungled. Trump has once again shown an inability to extend even the most basic diplomatic courtesy to our allies – though it should be noted that South Korea is not opposed to the idea, having themselves have asked to postpone military exercises as recently as last December.
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Michael J. Green, the Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan at the Center for Strategic and International studies explained his thoughts on the decision to CNN:
“It’s really breathtaking. When the President of the United States announces unilaterally to the leader of North Korea that we are going to stop our military exercises with our allies, Japan and Korea, and doe not first tell those allies and then goes on to say that someday he’d like to get our troops out of Asia, that’s an astonishing development.”
Now, it appears that Trump didn’t come up with the idea to suspend Korean military exercises himself but rather it got it from a disturbing, albeit hardly surprising source. TalkingPointsMemo points out that a Wall Street Journal article from January stated:
“Around the same time [Summer 2017] , Mr. Trump had an idea about how to counter the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, which he got after speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin: If the U.S. stopped joint military exercises with the South Koreans, it could help moderate Kim Jong Un’s behavior.”
“Defense Secretary Jim Mattis used an approach that aides say can work: “He says, ‘Your instincts are absolutely correct,’ and then gets him [the president] to do the exact opposite of what his instincts say,” said one person close to the White House. Mr. Trump dropped the idea, although he has ordered aides to give the exercises a low profile, eliminating press releases and briefings about them.”
In other words, it appears that Trump’s surprise decision to abort military exercises in South Korea was suggested by the Russian dictator.
The same dictator who seems to be coincidentally getting everything he wants from the United States since Trump took office. While we’ve yet to discover if Putin does, in fact, have blackmail on Trump, there’s no denying that he has an unacceptable influence over him.