When it comes to national security policy, Donald Trump has periodically generated favorable media commentary. Drop “the mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan? Hardly a murmur. Arm and back Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen? That attracted some criticism but not much, especially given the appalling civilian casualties it has produced and anyway, what’s not to love about our good friend Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman?
Jack up the defense budget up to over $700 billion? That’s needed, the Pentagon explains in this story, because “our competitive edge has eroded in every domain of warfare — air, land, sea, space and cyberspace — and it is continuing to erode.”
But Trump’s planned meeting with Kim Jong Un to discuss denuclearization with North Korea is, for many pundits and foreign policy elites, a bridge too far. “Trump teeters on the edge of a familiar North Korean trap,” writes Stephen Collinson at CNN’s website, and cites a battery of national security drones seeking to shoot down the idea of talks.
“North Korea sets a dangerous trap for Trump,” runs a USA Today op-ed by Tom Nichols, a professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College, who warns that “Disaster is far more likely than a Nobel.” (One of the funnier comments I saw about news of the impending meeting came from David Angelo, who tweeted, “Watch Trump get the Nobel Peace Prize. Hillary must be freebasing Xanax right now.”)
Over at MSNBC, speculation was rife that the entire Trump-Kim meeting was dreamed up by the administration to detract from the Stormy Daniels story. That would be a tragedy because the Stormy-Trump tale gets more delightful by the day and one can only pray she comes forward with a full account, but as a motive for Trump’s diplomatic move, it’s standard MSNBC drivel. And if you really have a taste for masochism, here’s Rachel Maddow’s take.
Look, Trump is no diplomatic genius and he and Kim are about as stable a pair as Loeb and Leopold. Nothing may come of the planned meeting or maybe it will be cancelled, but it’s ludicrous to oppose in advance talks between Trump and Kim about lowering the threat of nuclear war, especially as South Korean diplomacy generated the negotiations. (By the way, anyone following this story show be keeping close tabs on the work of Tim Shorrock, who has been covering North and South Korea for decades.)
Anyway, when it comes to particularly dumb takes, it’s no surprise that Max Boot, the Washington Post‘s latest neocon acquisition, may take the prize. Here’s an excerpt from a new op-ed –“North Korea and South Korea snooker Trump” — by Boot, the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (a title which tells you a lot):
If Trump bothered to talk to North Korea experts, he would undoubtedly learn that Kim’s regime is pursuing its age-old aim of pushing U.S. military forces off the Korean Peninsula, enabling Pyongyang to use its military power to coerce South Korea into unification on the North’s terms — i.e., the extension of a Stalinist dictatorship across the entire peninsula. Even if that’s not possible, North Korea hopes at a minimum for a relaxation of sanctions just when they are beginning to bite.
But, of course, the president doesn’t listen to experts…Now Trump is rushing into a risky summit without having gotten anything substantial in return and without, apparently, having even consulted the State Department.
Yes, God forbid Trump should take any foreign policy initiatives without consulting with experts like Boot, a man whose past advice unerringly led to failure and who has called for war or military strikes in places that include Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Iran.
In a 2003 speech, he called for the U.S. to play the role of “Globo-Cop,” saying, “If we don’t stop the bad guys, who will? If we don’t police the world, who will? The job of policing these distant lands — places full of failed states, criminal states, or simply a state of nature — ultimately falls to us, which means that whether we like it or not, liberal imperialism appears to be in our future.”
Trump may accomplish nothing in North Korea, but it can’t be any worse than the consensus approach favored by Boot and the other foreign policy “experts” who hold sway on cable news and the op-ed pages.