Donald Trump and his Fox News acolytes are describing the president’s summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as an historic event achieved by no other recent president. But his biggest accomplishment was legitimizing a grisly dictator with a duplicitous history and long string of human rights violations.
No other president sought to dignify Kim, or any of his previous family-member leaders, with a meeting because they realized it would represent a de-facto acceptance of his brutal regime.
Kim has been declared one of the worst human rights violators in the world by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, which published a telling report on his atrocities in 2014.
Kim’s crimes include overseas assassinations, wholesale extermination, murder and enslavement of North Korean citizens, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence and persecution of religious groups. The country is dotted with political prison camps.
Between 80,000 and 120,000 people are detained in one of the country’s massive prison camps for political prisoners, according to the UN report. Regular criminal prisons or labor camps holds thousands of others.
“Hundreds of thousands of political prisoners have perished in these camps over the past five decades,” according to the report.
Under his tyrannical rule and his reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons, tens of thousands of North Koreans have died from starvation, a problem exacerbated by the regime’s mismanagement and incompetence.
Food has been weaponized and is used as “a means of control over the population,” the report states. The regime also prioritizes military spending over feeding its people, said the report.
Of course, Kim’s human rights record was off the table at the summit. Trump made matters worse by fawning over the dictator as if he were a contestant on his reality television show.
The world learned the hard way not so long ago about the dangers of trying to appease a dictator. It’s called World War II.
In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain pronounced “peace in our time,” after negotiating an agreement giving in to demands by Germany’s Adolph Hitler. But Hitler, like Kim, had no regard for agreements.
The North Korean regime reached an agreement with South Korea in 1992 to denuclearize the region.
The two Koreas agreed “not to test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy, or use nuclear weapons; to use nuclear energy solely for peaceful purposes; and not to possess facilities for nuclear reprocessing and uranium enrichment.”
But North Korea promptly ignored it and proceeded developing nuclear bombs and the missiles to deliver them.
Trump’s summit with North Korea also sends another dangerous signal. You won’t get the attention of the United States until you have a nuclear weapon. What kind of message does that send to Iran and other rogue nations?
Fox News anchor Shep Smith summed up the “historic” meeting as well as anyone. He called the summit “nothing short of an unjustified capitulation to an autocratic regime, without receiving any meaningful concessions.”
“America demanded complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization — there’s no guarantee of that, no words to that effect,” Smith said of the statement signed by Kim and Trump. “And we may not know for years whether we’re actually now on that road or left in the potholes of paths past.”
“But Kim Jong-un? He wanted the photos, the seat at the table. He wanted the legitimacy that came with the event, the handshake with America’s president. And he wanted those military exercises with the Americans and the South Koreans that happen every year to stop. Kim Jong-un got it all, for actually doing nothing,” he added.
Despite Trump’s lofty rhetoric, we know from his past behavior he’ll disavow everything he said, if things don’t work out, just like he swore he was against the Iraq war, even though he’d previously, publicly voiced support for it.
With a president in office noted for lying and bluster, former President Ronald Reagan’s old adage “trust but verify” has more meaning than ever.