Sohn: Our disaster-in-chief's foreign policy

Sohn: Our disaster-in-chief's foreign policy

July 2nd, 2019 by Pam Sohn in Opinion Times

President Donald Trump walks to the North Korean side of the border with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, Sunday, June 30, 2019, in North Korea. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Photo by Susan Walsh

Let's see if we can tie this together: While our president and his administration put Latino children in cages, held their parents in new-age concentration camps, and demanded that our Congress "build the wall," he also joked with Russia's Vladimir Putin, praised Saudi Arabia's MBS and legitimized North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

This latest tour de force was all in the same week.

First Trump and Putin joked in front of cameras about interfering in our election and about "fake news." This is the same Russian president who ordered our election hacked and co-opted.

Then President Trump praised his "great friend of mine," the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, who Trump said is doing "a spectacular job." Where, we wonder, in that spectacular job did the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi fit in?

Then our disaster-in-chief crossed the DMZ for a handshake and photo-op with North Korea's Kim — the same dictator who is still testing short-range missiles that terrorize countries that are our allies, had his relatives killed and routinely imprisons and starves thousands of his own people.

On Fox News, Harry Kazianis, director of Korea studies at the Center for the National Interest, suggested Trump receive the Nobel Prize.

The better assessment came from The Washington Post columnist — and conservative — Jennifer Rubin:

"This is the hero of the Republican Party, the president who slobbers over murderers and mocks our deepest values," she wrote with dripping disdain.

Rubin also noted that Trump has "moved on" from the confrontation with Iran, allowing the mullahs to suffer little or no penalty for shooting down an American drone over international waters: "Trump can be played by every tinpot dictator and sullies the United States' reputation whenever he leaves home."

Frankly, neither we nor Rubin should be surprised. It was Trump, after all, who pulled out of the Iran deal when Iran was complying with the Obama pact to stop the making of a nuclear bomb there. Trump didn't worry about nuclear bombs. He just wanted to tear up anything with President Obama's name was on it.

But not to worry. Trump took First Daughter Ivanka along on the three-day junket to the Group of 20 economic summit in Japan (and subsequent trip to see his best bud in North Korea). And, yes, Ivanka was everywhere — bobbing her head between her father and various heads of state, downstaging U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and interrupting the conversations of world leaders.

A French government recording captured Ivanka standing with British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde. Lagarde cuts her eyes sideways and turns away as Ivanka interrupts their world-affairs talk to note the male domination of the defense industry.

Perhaps Ivanka should stick to fashion, like her father should have stuck to golf courses and beauty pageants.

Christopher R. Hill, a former U.S. ambassador who oversaw nuclear talks with North Korea at the close of the George W. Bush administration, said Ivanka's prominence on a major foreign trip sent a not-so-democratic message about who in our government other countries should court.

"It looks to the rest of the world like we have a kind of a constitutional monarchy," Hill said.

And one that prefers murderous dictators, at that.

Americans should be asking themselves what benefit our country gains from this road-to-nowhere foreign policy.

Did America get anything from Putin for Trump's happy joking with him?

No, but Trump got election help. Will he again? Trump certainly gained praise from Putin at the summit for locking up migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, and Putin called liberalism "obsolete."

Did America get anything from MBS and Saudi Arabia for Trump's praise?

No, but perhaps Trump himself put it best at a 2016 campaign rally: "Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. ... Am I supposed to dislike them?"

Did America get "complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization" from Kim?

No, at best, we're back to square one in which the two countries may resume the lower-level talks that should have been going on since the first "historic" meeting between these two leaders. Instead, at "historic" meeting No. 3 — this time on Kim's own turf — Trump gave North Korea its best-yet recognition of legitimacy as a nuclear power.

And remember, with North and South Korea now working to improve their fraught relationship, Trump's continued ownership of Trump Korean Projects LLC and 59% stake in Trump Korea LLC in partnership with Daewoo Engineering & Construction Ltd. holds interesting possibilities.

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