I must confess that when I heard Donald Trump had agreed to meet with Kim Jong Un, I was pleasantly surprised. A part of me still wants to believe that Trump is capable of human decency and wants to make the world a better place to live in. His recent overtures towards gun control advocates hinted at a man willing to cross the political aisle and make tough deals to get something done, and I thought that this could be his “Nixon/China” moment where he defies expectations and pulls off one of the greatest diplomatic coups in US history.
But then as I thought harder about the prospect of Trump — a fantasist who lies so often that he cannot remember what he has promised to whom from one day to the next — dealing with another narcissistic madman in charge of the most repressed nation on earth, reality began to sink in. While Trump may somewhere in his deluded mind believe that he can convince North Korea to dismantle their nuclear program and pull off a spectacular deal that keeps Russia, China, Japan and South Korea happy, he simply isn’t capable of it.
Trump does not read anything, does not understand international law, does not know the complex history behind the North Korean conflict, and has no idea what he can or can’t negotiate with. To think that he would be capable of pulling off a complicated geo political negotiation that would require months of background work, delicate diplomacy, and a nuanced understanding of the region’s political dynamics is simply laughable. Just as Trump proposed confiscating people’s guns before due process in the wake of the Parkland shooting, he will put things on the table that are not real, offer concessions Congress won’t allow, and promise cooperation from other countries he isn’t in charge of.
Kim Jong Un likely understands that Trump is completely incompetent and easy to manipulate, so will be looking at the opportunity as a way to boost his own image around the world. He will be well aware that Trump won’t make good on any of his promises , so won’t be doing anything about his country’s nuclear arsenal either. Just try for a moment to imagine a dialogue between the two men. It is impossible to do without bursting out laughing, and for anyone to think this is serious shows how utterly mad politics in America has become.
This isn’t to say that talking to North Korea is a bad idea — diplomacy is a great thing, and speaking to one’s enemies is always preferable than going to war with them. But real diplomacy that produces tangible results can only be done by skilled people with a track record of complex negotiations and in depth knowledge of the agreements they are attempting to create. Trump has a track record of ripping people off in real estate deals, playing a boss on television, and colluding with foreign governments to hack his own country’s democracy. Putting him in front of the world’s craziest dictator to negotiate a lasting peace deal to avoid nuclear war is akin to asking Sarah Palin and Alex Jones to create an ethical media company to combat fake news.
Sadly, this is all about TV ratings, and Trump almost certainly views this as a huge opportunity to create a giant media spectacle. He is right about this, but it won’t do the world much good.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.