- The American Conservative - http://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Stalin Was A Winner Too

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js [3]

change_me

Watch the clip. The President of the United States said this. When Bret Baier pressed the point, Trump said hey, a lot of people around the world have done bad things.

Let us remind ourselves of the man and the communist regime whose crimes Donald Trump just dismissed because that man, Kim Jong Un, is some kind of prodigy in Trump’s mind [4]:

Many North Koreans live in fear. That is by design, and it is reinforced by the country’s ruthless police state.

People accused of political crimes are arrested and sentenced to prison camps without trials, while their families are often kept in the dark about their whereabouts. Up to 120,000 inmates were in the country’s four major political prisons in 2014 and were subjected to gruesome conditions, according to the United Nations report.

Prisoners are starved, forced to work, tortured and raped. Reproductive rights are denied through forced abortions and infanticide. Some are executed — sometimes in public. Hundreds of thousands of political prisoners have died in the camps over the past 50 years, the United Nations report found.

In addition to the political camps, North Korea also operates prisons for those accused of ordinary crimes. Some prisons are short-term labor camps. Others hold prisoners who face long-term torture, starvation and other suffering.

More:

North Korea considers the spread of most religions dangerous, but Christianity is considered a “particularly serious threat” because it “provides a platform for social and political organization and interaction outside the realm of the State,” according to the United Nations report.

Christians are barred from practicing their religion, and those caught doing so are “subject to severe punishments,” the report found. North Korean leaders also conflate Christians with those detained in prison camps, those who try to flee and “others considered to introduce subversive influences,” the report stated.

In interviews with The New York Times in 2012, four North Koreans said that they had been warned that the gulag awaited those who spoke to journalists or Christian missionaries. “If the government finds out I am reading the Bible, I’m dead,” one woman said.

In its 2018 World Watch List, the Christian group Open Doors ranked North Korea the worst nation in the world for Christians, and in a statement last week, the group called on Christians to take part in 24 hours of prayer and fasting on Monday ahead of the meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim.

Here is what Mike Pence, in a long paean to the greatness of Donald Trump, told Southern Baptists today: [5]

And we once again, we have a President of the United States who stands without apology as leader of the free world. (Applause.)

We certainly saw that in high relief over the last several days, didn’t we? Just this morning, the President returned from a historic summit with Kim Jong Un of North Korea. The President went to this meeting as, in his words, “on a mission of peace,” but with eyes wide open. And I can report, the meeting that took place was direct and honest, provocative, and productive. It resulted in a bold first step where North Korea’s leader committed to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. (Applause.)

That president, who, it is claimed, stands without apology as leader of the free world, just gave a pass to a mass murderer who has made his nation into a gulag, and who targets Christians particularly.

Look, diplomacy is hard. Sometimes you have to avoid saying things that you know to be true for the sake of the greater good. Nobody expects President Trump to trash Kim Jong Un right after the summit. But my God … this?!

What would Ronald Reagan have said? What would Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn have said? Trump was tougher on Justin Trudeau!

Watch the entire interview here. [6] Bret Baier asks about human rights starting around 6:45.

UPDATE: Yep.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js [3]

137 Comments (Open | Close)

137 Comments To "Stalin Was A Winner Too"

#1 Comment By Newyorker On June 14, 2018 @ 6:34 pm

Trump knows Kim will get the news of his glowing praise, which aids him in buttering up the dictator and furthering his diplomatic ends.

Sure the optics are bad, but if he’s successful, who cares. Trump is powerless to help those oppressed by Kim but he can help keep the peace. I believe Trump has insight into others (but not himself) and may have believed his remarks are a cheap way of manipulating the young Kim. This is all about Realpolitik.

He’s prolly trolling the media too. Nothing delights him more than seeing heads explode.

#2 Comment By Nate J On June 14, 2018 @ 6:43 pm

@One Guy
“Does anyone doubt that Trump would love to have the same powers over his people that Kim has over his? Is anyone else bothered by this?”

– – –

I’d argue that the entire structure of the United States as idealized by the founding fathers is premised on the idea that ALL men would like to have Kim’s power over his fellow man.

The history of the world, both modern and ancient, seems to bear this out amply. This idea that Donald Trump, 72, is going to use his final 6 (maybe) years in office to install himself as dictator for life is one of the weirder preoccupations of the left today.

#3 Comment By Thrice A Viking On June 14, 2018 @ 7:27 pm

Something alluded to by a few – but not sufficiently drawn out IMO – is that North Korea is basically a monarchy. It’s the world’s only Communist one, and the most absolutist monarchy anywhere on Earth. That’s the key to understanding the regime, again IMO.

I can see nothing remarkable in this Kim’s early accession to the throne. England, after all, had two teenagers in a row – Edward VI and Lady Jane Grey – ascend to their throne. He inherited the entire state apparatus for repression at his disposal. It undoubtedly takes a certain amount of intelligence to run it – or to be the figurehead who appears to be running it. But I suspect far more than one in ten thousand would have the brains to do it, if they’re heartless enough.

#4 Comment By KS On June 14, 2018 @ 9:19 pm

All this whining about dictatorships is just pap.

Few things are more annoying than Americans moralizing and trying to be everyones mother in law.

Get a grip people.

#5 Comment By Ellimist000 On June 15, 2018 @ 12:21 am

“That president, who, it is claimed, stands without apology as leader of the free world, just gave a pass to a mass murderer who has made his nation into a gulag, and who targets Christians particularly.”

But Gorsuch.

#6 Comment By Ellimist000 On June 15, 2018 @ 12:29 am

Noah172,

“How would you characterize Reagan’s relationships with Hosni Mubarak, Muhammad Zia ul Haq, and, ahem, Saddam Hussein?”

A group of excellent examples of why conservatives, in general, cannot be trusted to run foreign policy in ANYONE’s long-term interests.

#7 Comment By Ellimist000 On June 15, 2018 @ 12:36 am

To be fair, I find the almost Lovecraftian hypocrisy of the Republicans, to the point that they are willing to haphazardly support nebulous deals while sabotaging concrete deals (like Cuba and Iran) with the exact reversal of their support, literally within months of each other, all apparently out of ego, spite, or a suicide-bomber’s approach to keeping political power more dangerous than the actual meeting and praising of dictators.

#8 Comment By JonF On June 15, 2018 @ 7:47 am

Re: How would you characterize Reagan’s relationships with Hosni Mubarak, Muhammad Zia ul Haq, and, ahem, Saddam Hussein?

I don’t recall Reagan gushing over those guys. The US has long had a small gang of client tyrants whom we pretend are staunch patriots (of their own nations of course). I wish we didn’t, but that’s how the game of empire is played. I’m not adverse to Trump’s diplomatic overtures to North Korea– something good could come of out. Although from what I can tell this was nothing more than a 21st century version if the Field of Cloth of Gold, the 16th century summit between Henry VIII and Francis I where despite grand ballyhoo nothing of substance was accomplished.

#9 Comment By Jefferson Smith On June 15, 2018 @ 9:53 am

Trump is the worst extemporaneous speaking President we’ve had in living memory, perhaps ever. This is deeply troubling in and of itself, and it matters.

@Matt makes a good point here, and I would add that Trump isn’t only extemporaneous but also given to superlatives. Everything is always the greatest or the hugest ever, or the worst [whatever] in history, or a total disaster, etc. Never any subtlety or shading. George W. Bush famously said he didn’t “do nuance,” but compared to Trump, Bush was practically Jean-Paul Sartre.

In an earlier comment I made fun of this characteristic of Trump’s, but it has obvious dangers. It might be fine if the North Korea situation never takes a turn that demands difficult trade-offs, carefully modulated messaging, complex multilateral cooperation, a tricky balancing of interests on both sides, etc. But usually those are the very things that diplomacy is all about.

A related feature of Trump’s charming personality is that he has the attention span of a two-year-old, so maybe, once he realizes his grip’n’grin with Kim isn’t going to win him the Nobel Peace Prize, he’ll just forget about all this while he goes chasing the next shiny object. Maybe Kim will lie low until Trump is out of office and US affairs are again in the hands of non-sociopaths. But Trump has declared that he thinks Kim will “very quickly” start dismantling his nuclear program. What happens if something reminds him that Kim isn’t dismantling squat?

#10 Comment By Anne On June 15, 2018 @ 10:11 am

The maddening reality is that Trump likely remains more or less blissfully ignorant of most of these facts about North Korea. About a whole lot of things. Sure, people brief him and possibly even leave five- and ten-page documents with lengthier background information for him to study at his leisure, but he made it clear even before his inauguration that his daily intel briefings were a bore to which he had no intention of subjecting himself. (All that badmouthing of his man crush Putin?) As friends and former staff members attest, Donald Trump does not read. He has people for that.
He’ll listen to their synopses as long as they don’t bore him. Unfortunately, boring him is easier than falling off the White House log.

They say when Trump got to Singapore he wanted to move up the summit a day because he was bored. Makes sense to me. Reporters with time on their hands have synchronized his morning Tweets to what’s being talked about on “Fox News and Friends.” No Fox News in Singapore. None of his shows are available there, at least not 24/7. No reason to stay a day longer than absolutely necessary.

You elected your Crazy Uncle, and now you’re surprised the President of the United States says what he says?

#11 Comment By James On June 15, 2018 @ 11:18 am

Tim B makes a excellent point,the world is a lot safer, when autocrats, and dictators are in charge in some parts of the world. After all, Democracy isn’t for everyone, it usually results in tyranny of the majority. For all of Kim Hong In faults, a collapsed North Korea would be a nightmare, that even South Korea , and China recognizes. So in the end praising a brutal Dictator at a summit is cringe worthy, yet not the end of the world.

#12 Comment By JimDandy On June 15, 2018 @ 11:58 am

Trump is a politician in the midst of a major, potentially historic negotiation that could make the world a much safer place, especially for Americans. If avoiding condemnation of North Korea’s leader right now will increase the chances of them giving up their nukes, let me just say that Kim Jong Un has really nice hair.

#13 Comment By EarlyBird On June 15, 2018 @ 12:01 pm

Rather than a tyrant, which Trump would become in a heartbeat if he had the opportunity, he acts and runs his administration like a mob boss. And like mob boss, he admires any “tough” guy. Toughness is a good in and of itself to Trump.

#14 Comment By Thomas Hamilton On June 15, 2018 @ 12:20 pm

Who cares? Trump flatters Kim to get a deal. He can flatter all the world’s dictators if it will produce a better deal, for all I care. There are no concrete consequences to praising Kim. This is a practice with a long history.

In response, North Korean state television has shown its first positive coverage of the United States and a US President, ever.

#15 Comment By Mark VA On June 15, 2018 @ 1:38 pm

I hope that in private President Trump told Kim Jong Un, in unequivocal language, what he is in our eyes:

A cold blooded murderer who one day will be held accountable for his crimes, a nuisance to the world, and that it is up to him to mitigate this judgement;

I instinctively discount public political pronouncements, because politics done in public is more often than not a smoke and mirrors show.

#16 Comment By DRK On June 15, 2018 @ 1:58 pm

At least 38 of Putin’s enemies have died mysteriously or violently. I am comfortable with describing him as a mass murderer.

[9]

Is he Stalin? No. And he is not personally implicated in any murder. But to be a political enemy, or an inconveniently nosy journalist, or a even just a prominent person fighting against corruption in Russia is to have a target on your back. And given the degree of Putin’s control over Russia, it is obvious who the real triggerman is.

#17 Comment By Jefferson Smith On June 15, 2018 @ 4:43 pm

Excellent column on this today from Andrew Sullivan:

[Trump] insists that the nuclear threat from North Korea is now over — “Sleep well!” — because he gave Kim the kind of legitimacy the North Korean national gulag has always craved, and received in turn around 400 words from Pyongyang, indistinguishable from previous statements made to several presidents before him.

But Sullivan is just warming up. He follows with this, referencing the same Mike Pompeo press conference I cited above:

And this was the response of the secretary of State, when asked, inevitably, how the U.S. could in any way verify North Korea’s promised denuclearization: “I find that question insulting and ridiculous and, frankly, ludicrous.” It’s ludicrous, he explained, because the president said there will be verification of denuclearization. And so there will be. Get that? Just lean into the delusion, and everything will be well. Trump’s various mouthpieces have resorted to exactly that formula, when asked difficult or obvious questions that assume a reality different from Trump’s. The empirical questions — those that reference the real world — are “ludicrous,” “inappropriate,” or “ridiculous.” But then when the Trump peons can’t answer the question, because it would reveal Trump as a fantasist, what else are they supposed to do? Show a propaganda video made by the National Security Council?

To top it off, Sullivan recalls Vaclav Havel’s parable of the greengrocer in Soviet Czechoslovakia, the very same tale that RD occasionally wields against the LGBT movement. Sullivan puts it to what seems to me significantly better use:

We live in a lie now, perpetrated from the very top, enhanced by relentless propaganda, and designed to shore up what is a cult. It is growing in strength. It is precisely now that we must manage at every moment to dispel it. And then to vote, en masse, for its extinction.

Whole column here:

[10]

#18 Comment By Jefferson Smith On June 15, 2018 @ 4:53 pm

And, in fairness, I should mention that the Andrew Sullivan column I just linked to has three sections, the third of which is a critique of “wokeness” on transgenderism and on biological differences between men and women: “So it’s not just Trump who is living in a lie, is it?” Something for everyone! 🙂

#19 Comment By John On June 15, 2018 @ 4:55 pm

When all is said and done, Hillary would be worse. Next time we ned a candidate to vote for not a candidate to vote against. Until then, we have Trump and be thankful it is not you know who!

#20 Comment By Stefan On June 15, 2018 @ 6:41 pm

I predict Trump is going to totally lose it and go off the deep end when he comes back from his North Korea visit, just like Ceausescu went from generic socialist autocrat to full-on cray-cray after his visit there.If Trump was so impressed last year by a couple tanks driving down the Shamsselysay that he wanted to have his own all-singing, all-dancing tank parade to one-up Macron, wait ’till he witnesses a hundred thousand performers dance in front of him and hold up placards forming a picture of the Great Leader’s august visage. His new bffs will tell him to just stick with the Stalinist trappings and personality cult but stay away from the actual Sovet-type planned economics because that didn’t work out for them, something that, being good advice from people with experience, he will of course ignore. “Folks I’m telling you, we could have so much more winning with material balance planning of available inputs and target outputs instead of inefficient resource allocation by individual capitalists. We will achieve completely price stability by having America determine all prices as sole producer and all wages as sole employer! All on the basis of the Ten Principles for the Establishment of a Monolithic Ideological System that I’m hereby announcing…”

#21 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 15, 2018 @ 8:02 pm

I hope that in private President Trump told Kim Jong Un, in unequivocal language, what he is in our eyes:

A cold blooded murderer who one day will be held accountable for his crimes, a nuisance to the world, and that it is up to him to mitigate this judgement;

That’s not how you conduct diplomacy. That would be appropriate only as a preamble to a declaration of war. Don’t be silly.

#22 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 15, 2018 @ 9:12 pm

Stalin was a winner – but then our government had no problem praising Uncle Joe when it was expedient for Great Power machinations, until that polity broke down in competing afterwards over the European spoils of war.

#23 Comment By Jefferson Smith On June 16, 2018 @ 5:46 am

In a comment above I quoted Andrew Sullivan favorably, but I should probably also mention that I think he (and many others) are wrong when he says that Trump “gave Kim the kind of legitimacy the North Korean national gulag has always craved.” Yes, historically, a summit with the US president was a big prize, arguably making its recipient look like the leader of a normal and respected member of the international order. That’s presumably why Kim and his father both sought such a summit for all those years.

But that was back when we had normal presidents who were themselves respected representatives of the international order. Everybody in the world knows that Trump is something else again, and I doubt that he’s really able to confer legitimacy on anyone or anything. The hard-core Trump cultists who believe everything he says might think more highly of North Korea today than they used to, but almost no one else will. To the contrary, the general reactions I think are more like those we see in the post above: that in tossing bouquets at Kim, Trump doesn’t accredit Kim or North Korea but just further discredits himself.

#24 Comment By Mia On June 16, 2018 @ 8:42 am

“I think Trump sees something of himself in Kim (and other dictators). That’s why he gets along with them. He respects them.”

Theadwinner. It just leaves you speechless, doesn’t it?

#25 Comment By Thaomas On June 16, 2018 @ 1:26 pm

After his kissing up to Putin, Duterte, Erdogan for no reason at all, why criticize Trump for praising Kim as part of his crawl down from his previous rhetoric? Trump just likes leaders who are not Liberals (OK, not all) and dislikes Liberals. What else in new?

#26 Comment By Mark VA On June 17, 2018 @ 8:17 am

OK Siarlys, you’re right, perhaps that’s not the best way to get the message across:

A low ranking aide can say it, and then be ceremoniously “corrected” and “apologized for” by the higher ups. Either way, message delivered to the Thick Boy;

Siarlys, just thinking, in high school, you mostly got A’s, frequented the debate club, ate sensible lunches, and never spent a day in detention – right? 🙂

For what’s worth, I was a math nerd in H.S. (still am), and spent one day in detention. That was four decades ago – how time flies.

#27 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 17, 2018 @ 2:41 pm

I only spent time in detention for two reasons:

1) Following an anti-war protest,

2) I snuck in once doing research for a movie project about detention, but as it turned out, it was a boring day not worth taking notes on.

My grades ranged from A to C, one quarter I got an F but it was 4th quarter of senior year, so who cares? I was in the debate club, I ate salami sandwiches and chips for lunch, with a candy bar, unless I had money to buy a burger from the vending machines.

At my high school, the greasers and the freaks were good friends, because there were no freaks until some greasers and some intellectuals went on an anti-war march together. Those students who leaned left tended to have a real working class background, the white collar types supported Nixon. My best friend from those days ran for student council president on the slogan “We need a revolution,” and won. He never went to college, but did spend a very productive adult life as a union organizer, one of the few who successfully organized the unorganized in the 1980s and 1990s.

our government had no problem praising Uncle Joe when it was expedient for Great Power machination

Is that another way of saying, as long as the USSR was taking on and chewing up a majority of the Wehrmacht’s military strength, at great cost in Russian lives?

#28 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 18, 2018 @ 1:23 am

After due consideration of history and the comments, let’s say it’s been a bipartisan American foreign policy to support dictators who support U.S. objectives. That consideration, our wise men of state counseled, trumped the interests of other foreigners. In fact I think it was a Democrat who averred, “Well, he’s a son********, but at least he’s our son********.”

Might we agree that Mr. Trump doesn’t reflect all our own ideals, much as those foreign leaders the U.S. backed didn’t reflect those of our better angels, either. We could credibly say that in a world of realpolitik, where there are no practical good choices to make, that at least he’s our S*O*B in that same All-American spirit.

#29 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 18, 2018 @ 1:32 am

Siarlys, our western leaders of the time said that they’d ally with Satan himself in order to win. One cannot in any truth say that the war was conducted in accordance with precepts of Just War in its waging. As for its motives, that it was a continuation of World War I it is obvious, and the motives for that war, as well as the self-interested late entry of the United States, is entirely Great Game machinations for conquest and advantage by the belligerents on all sides. That fails just cause. None of those leaders ever cared much for how many other human beings they sacrificed to try to gain elite advantage. Nor did our side ever do anything to disrupt Eichmann’s concentration camp logistics, though it could have, simply by bombing the rail tracks, thereby saving millions.

#30 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 18, 2018 @ 11:22 am

Fran, I rejected the knee-jerk “Not my president” utterances, but I will say, Trump is NOT MY “S*O*B*.

Just war theory is rather difficult to pin down with perfection. I think we could agree that there has never been a pristinely 100 percent just war.

But, I would have been willing to fight in WW II, as I would not in Vietnam. Its true that WW I was a great imperialist war. Its true that WW II was in many ways fought to settle all the irresponsible loose ends of the way WW I was concluded. But one problem with pacifist movements is that, like generals, they are always ready to fight the last war. The yanks should not have come in 1917. If they had not, perhaps WW II would never have happened. But, Hitler needed to be fought.

#31 Comment By Thrice A Viking On June 18, 2018 @ 4:32 pm

Fran, our side did bomb some of the concentration camps (I don’t know about the railroad tracks specifically), though it may not have done that much good. But that was Churchill, not FDR. I’m not sure unleashing a barrage on the RRs would have helped that terribly much good. They can be repaired, after all, and anyway transport can still be done via the Autobahn. Plus, setting up anti-aircraft defenses in the areas affected might have taken too many planes and aviators out of service. It’s a difficult issue.

I think we make a mistake when we assert that the current North Korean monarch is responsible for all these horrific crimes. As if he could do it all by himself against millions of people! It’s been well-said that an “absolute” ruler’s power depends on two things: the servility, or at least resignation of his people; and the loyalty and ferocity of his guards. Kim wouldn’t last a day if he lost the latter, and would at the least find it problematic if he lost the first. It’s the whole apparatus of the NK state that is blood-soaked, not just Kim himself. And I repeat my musings that he may be a mere figurehead, not the actual ruler.

#32 Comment By MM On June 18, 2018 @ 7:20 pm

Jenkins: “Is that another way of saying, as long as the USSR was taking on and chewing up a majority of the Wehrmacht’s military strength, at great cost in Russian lives?”

FDR actually had a Hollywood propaganda film produced in 1943 expressly for the purpose of lauding the Soviet war effort:

[11]

It’s ironic, and far more overt whitewashing, in light of Trump’s little video produced for Kim the North Korean people to encourage peace negotiations.

#33 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 18, 2018 @ 9:25 pm

FDR actually had a Hollywood propaganda film produced in 1943 expressly for the purpose of lauding the Soviet war effort:

Good for him. There was much to appreciate about the Soviet war effort. Think of how many millions of American lives would have been lost taking on the Wehrmacht without the USSR tying down most of the German military strength.

#34 Comment By Mark VA On June 19, 2018 @ 7:14 am

Siarlys:

You sneaking into high school detention to get material for a movie (an exposé?) is one of those few great feats of daring that make high school worthwhile. It may have earned you entry into our Nerd Club, provided you could also carry on the debate about TI vs. Reverse Polish Notation HP calculators;

I don’t think most kids today care about broader social issues as much as the primitive, pre-technological generations did back in our day. Today, they seem consumed by the social media, games, and their little “circle of 500 friends” on those stupid smart phones;

Crap, I sound like a sad little old man.

#35 Comment By MM On June 19, 2018 @ 10:32 am

Jenkins: “There was much to appreciate about the Soviet war effort.”

Which wouldn’t have been possible with U.S. armaments, tanks, etc.

And of course, the Soviet Union was Nazi Germany’s largest trading partner and most reliable collaborator in starting WW2.

Can’t give them credit without putting them in the dock for that.

Any comment on why FDR explicitly whitewashed the purges in that propaganda film? He didn’t have to do that. Makes Trump look moderate by comparison…

#36 Comment By MM On June 19, 2018 @ 10:33 am

Correction: “Which wouldn’t have been possible without U.S. made armaments, tanks, etc.”

#37 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 19, 2018 @ 2:58 pm

MM, the difference between a useful and necessary ally, and the epitome of agape between nations, seems to utterly escape you. Herman Wouk got the balance about right.