Publicly, Donald Trump pretends his policy toward North Korea is a historic success. The Republican president has assured the American public that he's "solved" the problem posed by the rogue nuclear state, to the point that North Korea is no longer a threat.
"President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem," Trump declared last month. "No longer -- sleep well tonight!”
Privately, however, it's a different story. The Washington Post reported over the weekend:
The lack of immediate progress, though predicted by many analysts, has frustrated the president, who has fumed at his aides in private even as he publicly hails the success of the negotiations. [...][L]ate last week in meetings with his aides, Trump bristled about the lack of positive developments in the negotiations.
In a bizarre way, I find this is oddly reassuring. The reality is that the president's gambit is failing, just as experts predicted. Confronted with these facts, Trump can either accept reality and launch a public-deception campaign in the hopes of convincing voters he's succeeding, or he can pretend reality is what he wants it to be and genuinely believe the nonsense he's peddling.
If the Post's reporting is accurate, the president has chosen the former over the latter. And while the lying is obviously a problem, I take some comfort in the fact that Trump realizes his policy isn't working.
Because it really isn't. From the Post's article:
Diplomats say the North Koreans have canceled follow-up meetings, demanded more money and failed to maintain basic communications, even as the once-isolated regime’s engagements with China and South Korea flourish.Meanwhile, a missile-engine testing facility that Trump said would be destroyed remains intact, and U.S. intelligence officials say Pyongyang is working to conceal key aspects of its nuclear program.
Wait, what was that about "demanding more money"? Apparently, North Korea has requested that the United States pay for "the transportation and storage costs" associated with delivering the remains of fallen American soldiers who were killed during the Korean War.
It's just one more aspect of the process that's not going well.