North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump (R) at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella...
Saul Loeb

Mission Accomplished, Part II: Trump thinks he’s solved the North Korea ‘problem’

The Rachel Maddow Show, 6/12/18, 9:00 PM ET

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How happy is Donald Trump with the results of his summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un? The negotiations in which the American president made some major and unexpected concessions in exchange for nothing? The meeting in which he inexplicably showered one of the world’s most brutal dictators with praise and affection?

So happy that Trump apparently believes he’s resolved the entire national security challenge. Consider this pair of tweets from the president this morning.

“Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!

“Before taking office people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea. President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer – sleep well tonight!”

It’s entirely possible that the Republican president is just lying again, assuming much of the public will believe whatever nonsense he peddles, but if Trump genuinely believes the North Korean nuclear threat is over, and the rogue nuclear power is “no longer” a problem, his ignorance may actually be dangerous.

Indeed, it’s Mission Accomplished, Part II.

“Mission Accomplished,” of course, was the text on the banner above George W. Bush’s head in 2003 when the then-president declared the end of “major combat operations” in Iraq. Bush never literally spoke the words “mission accomplished” in his remarks, but they appeared over his head during the speech and his presidency was haunted by the phrase.

As conditions in Iraq deteriorated, the death toll mounted, and the arguments in support of the invasion evaporated, that two-word banner came to represent premature celebration of a conflict. Even Bush later conceded the message was a “mistake.”

The lesson for future presidents was obvious: don’t declare victory too early, especially when dealing with complex national security crises. Resolutions take time, patience, and effort, and those who skip to the end, assuming they’ve solved a problem that hasn’t gone away, live to regret it.

Fifteen years after Bush’s misguided remarks, Trump told the nation, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” adding that the rogue nuclear state may have been the United States’ “most dangerous problem,” but “no longer.”

This is literally unbelievable. Trump signed a vague and non-binding agreement with Kim Jong-un, but it said almost nothing, and it didn’t change the underlying security problem in any tangible way. To read the president’s tweets, one might think North Korea’s nuclear stockpiles are a thing of the past and international inspections are already underway.

Except, that’s absurd. A photo-op is not a credible solution to a decades-old problem.

And why is this dangerous? Because if Trump believes his own nonsense, it may guide his future decisions on foreign policy. In other words, if the president’s version of reality remains badly at odds with everyone else’s, it will adversely affect his judgment when it comes to following up on the developments in Singapore.

Alas, this has become a staple of Trump’s style of “governance”: this president routinely looks at the policy landscape as if single actions make problems go away. He cut taxes for the wealthy, which in his mind means the economy is done. He took some executive actions to undermine the health care system, which in his mind means health care is done. He launched some cruise missiles in Syria, which in his mind means Syria is done.

And Trump made some concessions to Kim Jong-un in exchange for nothing, which in his mind means North Korea is done.

It’s not.

Donald Trump, Foreign Policy and North Korea

Mission Accomplished, Part II: Trump thinks he's solved the North Korea 'problem'