As Donald Trump’s policy toward North Korea unravels, the American leader decided yesterday to offer some evidence of progress: the Republican president released an image of a recent letter he received from Kim Jong-un.
“I deeply appreciate the energetic and extraordinary efforts made by Your Excellency Mr. President for the improvement of relations between the two countries and the faithful implementation of the joint statement,” Kim said in a translated letter tweeted by the president.
Trump added in his tweet: “A very nice note from Chairman Kim of North Korea. Great progress being made!”
No, there is no great progress being made. Trump is making that up, hoping we’ll all just play along with the fantasy.
The fact remains, however, this is too important for make-believe. Following up on our previous coverage, consider what we’ve seen since the spectacle of the Trump/Kim summit:
First, U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that North Korea has recently increased its production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites. Trump’s boast that the rogue state is no longer a nuclear threat was ridiculously wrong.
Second, formal talks between the countries went nowhere, culminating in North Korea’s foreign ministry accusing the Trump administration of making “unilateral and gangster-like” demands. (Some insiders said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meeting went “as badly as it could have gone.”)
And third, North Koreans were a no-show at a meeting yesterday to discuss the return of American soldiers’ remains.
The question isn’t whether we’re seeing “great progress” – we’re obviously not – it’s how the American president is prepared to respond to the apparent failure of his efforts.
At least on the surface, Trump can either acknowledge recent developments and confront the adversary who’s making him looking foolish, or he can pretend his failing policy is a triumph.
The former would probably require Trump to confront his own mistake. Is it any wonder he prefers the latter?