North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attends a photo session with the participants of a meeting of Korean People's Army (KPA) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on Nov. 5, 2014.
Photo by KCNA KCNA/Reuters

North Korean leader has a favorite in U.S. presidential race


When it comes to international affairs, one of the more common complaints about President Obama from the right is that he’s not universally adored. It’s an odd line of criticism, largely because Obama has actually worked wonders in improving the United States’ global reputation in the wake of the Bush/Cheney era – the president’s Republican predecessor was not widely respected abroad – and Obama is currently one of the most popular figures on the planet.

But Republicans aren’t completely wrong – there are some foreign leaders who clearly don’t respect the man in the Oval Office. Russian President Vladimir Putin, for example, doesn’t care for President Obama, though the Russian autocrat seems to have more of a bond with Donald Trump. And North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un not surprisingly has no use for President Obama, though he too seems rather fond of the Republican Party’s would-be successor.

Two weeks ago, the GOP candidate raised a few eyebrows when asked whether he’s open to talking to the North Korean dictator. “I would speak to him, I would have no problem speaking to him,” Trump told Reuters. This led to yesterday’s developments, in which the North Korean government made clear how much it likes the presumptive Republican nominee.

North Korea has backed presumptive U.S. Republican nominee Donald Trump, with a propaganda website praising him as “a prescient presidential candidate” who can liberate Americans living under daily fear of nuclear attack by the North.

A column carried on Tuesday by DPRK Today, one of the reclusive and dynastic state’s mouthpieces, described Trump as a “wise politician” and the right choice for U.S. voters in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election.

It described his most likely Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, as “thick-headed Hillary” over her proposal to apply the Iran model of wide sanctions to resolve the nuclear weapons issue on the Korean peninsula.

In recent years, Republicans have said they’re eager to elect a GOP president who’d have more support in foreign countries. Perhaps they should have been pressed to be more specific about which countries they had in mind.

Slate’s Fred Kaplan is understandably concerned that “two of the world’s wiliest dictators … are keen to see Donald Trump win this fall’s election.”

Some attribute these odd salutes to the like-mindedness of authoritarian personalities, but this misses the point. More likely, Putin and Kim pine for a Trump presidency because they see he’s an easy mark, someone who thinks he’s smart and tough but who, in fact, is all set to give away the store.

Most leaders, perhaps especially authoritarian ones, don’t care about an opposite number’s charms or lack thereof; they care only about advancing their interests.

Putin hates NATO and would love to drive a wedge between Europe and the United States, and Trump would help Russia move closer to both goals. Kim Jong-un wants to split the West from Asia-Pacific countries, and then along comes Trump, boasting about his intentions of leaving South Korea and Japan to fend for themselves.

I really hope Republicans weren’t overly attached to their branding as the “foreign-policy party.”

Donald Trump, Foreign Policy, North Korea and Russia

North Korean leader has a favorite in U.S. presidential race