In a live television poll conducted on Netflix, 71 percent of the viewers of liberal comedian Michelle Wolf would prefer to see the failure of President Donald Trump’s peace efforts on the Korean peninsula than to see him get any credit for it. Audience members were asked: “Are you sort of hoping we don’t get peace with North Korea so you wouldn’t have to give Trump credit?” On those responding, only 29 percent said that want peace with North Korea. 

One of the guests on the Thursday night show said, “That’s how liberal they are that they would rather the world explode, they’re like ‘I told you guys he was an asshole.’” Some pundits assert that there exists a phenomenon they dub the Trump Derangement Syndrome: a sentiment among the president’s detractors that induces them to oppose him at every turn. Trump’s supporters have sometimes questioned whether Trump’s opponents oppose him because of their disenchantment with the United States. Brad Parscale, a Trump associate, tweeted for example: “Here is the media’s and left’s position in a nutshell. It isn’t about America.”

On Friday, Trump was asked by a reporter at an impromptu press conference on the White House lawn, "You're defending Kim Jong-un's human rights records. How can you do that?" In response, the president said, "You know why? Because I don't want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family."

There was evidence elsewhere of surprise and opposition in the wake of the summit meeting Trump held with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un in Singapore. Trump announced that part of the deal he worked out was the suspension of U.S. support for military exercises on South Korea’s side of the divided Korean Peninsula. Observing the promise of diminished U.S. military spending and engagement in the region, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow claimed on Tuesday that halting the annual war games is “an absolute jackpot for the North Korean dictator,” and “one of the things he wants most on earth.” Washington, the liberal Maddow said, “has just given them that for free, for nothing.”

Maddow linked the diplomatic breakthrough to Russia, implying that Trump is favoring Russia by halting the exercises. She referred to the summit as a “wedding,” and twice said that Trump and Kim “love” each other. Maddow said Kim is Trump’s “best friend.” Maddow did not evidence a concern with avoiding war on the Korean peninsula, which just a few months ago appeared imminent.

Some in the media believe that Trump was “legitimizing” North Korea by meeting with Kim. Maddow, for example, appeared to be aghast that the summit “billed” North Korea “as a nation equal in stature to the United States.” According to the New York Times, Kim achieved a “win” by receiving the “legitimacy of being treated as an equal as a nuclear power on the world stage, country flags standing side by side.” The Washington Post editorial board was incensed that the North Korean leader was “able to parade on the global stage as a legitimate statesman,” while Post columnist Anne Applebaum said that “the flags and the handshake will reinforce Kim’s legitimacy and make him harder to depose.”

The editorial board of the Washington Post warned on Tuesday against trusting Kim Jong-un: “a cruel and unpredictable ruler whose motives and aims are far from clear.” While the Post said that diplomacy “is certainly preferable to the slide toward war that appeared to be underway last year,” it appeared to oppose steps to avoid nuclear war. The paper complained that joint statement released after the summit did not mention of “US terms for disarmament,” apparently signalling that utter acquiescence on the part of North Korea was the the only good outcome to be expected.

Writing in the New York Times, columnist Nicholas Kristof  wrote that “it certainly is better for the two leaders to be exchanging compliments rather than missiles,” but called the cessation of U.S. war games a “concession” for which America receives “astonishingly little” in return. While he claimed to oppose a nuclear exchange, he asserted that minimizing the nuclear threat is mistaken.

"Astonishingly,” Kristof wrote, Trump "even adopted North Korean positions as his own, saying that the United States military exercises in the region are “provocative.” That’s a standard North Korean propaganda line."

Writing on Tuesday, Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum wrote that scaling back the U.S. military footprint on the Korean peninsula can only be understood as a humilitation. She claimed that had any previous president emerged from such a summit, he would have been embarrassed.

Her article was headlined, “Trump and Kim Got What They Wanted. The Rest of the World, Not So Much.” It’s likely, however, that “the rest of the world” does not want nuclear war, and might want steps that could help avert that danger—such as, say, an end to nuclear-armed America antagonizing another nuclear power by having “tens of thousands of US and [South Korean] troops, aircraft and naval vessels engaged in mock clashes” with that power.


 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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