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Pompeo’s Insulting North Korea Spin

Mike Pompeo doesn’t like [1] people questioning the toothless statement produced by the Singapore summit:

Questions about perceived gaps in the joint statement signed by President Trump and Kim Jong Un are “insulting and ridiculous and frankly ludicrous,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Wednesday in Seoul, where he is briefing South Korea on Tuesday’s U.S.-North Korean summit in Singapore.

Asked specifically about verification of Pyongyang’s denuclearization and whether it will be irreversible — objectives outlined by Trump but unmentioned in the statement — Pompeo said: “The modalities are beginning to develop. There will be a great deal of work to do. There’s a long way to go. There’s much to think about.”

“But don’t say silly things,” he said. “No, don’t. It’s not productive.”

It is appropriate and indeed necessary for people to raise questions about what the government is doing, and it is not “silly” to point out flaws and omissions when they actually exist. If most observers are emphasizing that the statement released after Tuesday’s summit was weak and lacking in specifics, that is because the administration is trying to sell it as a major success. It is the job of journalists and experts to question official claims and to challenge them when they are false. If Pompeo doesn’t like “insulting and ridiculous” questions, perhaps he and the president should not say ridiculous things that insult the intelligence of informed people.

Pompeo is the last person who should be complaining about criticizing the results of diplomacy with adversaries. He was a leading critic of the JCPOA and made any number of spurious, false claims about what the deal did and was supposed to do. He defended [2] U.S. withdrawal because the deal supposedly “put the world at risk because of its fatal flaws,” but every single one of the “flaws” he described was either made up or not part of the agreement. The Singapore summit statement is being judged against what the administration promised and according to what the text actually says and leaves out, and it has been found wanting. If we judged it by the unfair, ever-changing standards that Iran hawks used for the JCPOA, the assessment would be even harsher.

Pompeo and other Iran hawks routinely held the JCPOA up to an impossible standard that no agreement could ever reach, and now that they have cobbled together a much weaker understanding with North Korea Pompeo can’t handle the slightest pushback. He approved of reneging on a completely successful nonproliferation agreement for bogus reasons after railing against the diplomacy that produced that agreement, and now wants this administration’s critics to show a degree of deference that he and his colleagues in Congress never showed during the negotiations with Iran. Whining about fair criticism of a weak statement after lying about a successful agreement for years takes hypocrisy to new lows.

Pompeo is reduced to claiming that the summit statement secretly contains things that not present in the text:


Pompeo said the statement’s reference to “complete” denuclearization “encompasses verifiable and irreversible.”

This is a risible defense, and it reflects the extent to which the administration is willing to make things up out of thin air to square their previous maximalist rhetoric with what they were able to get. The administration is trying to spin their unsuccessful effort as a triumph in a deliberate effort to mislead the public about what they have done, but it isn’t going to work.

12 Comments (Open | Close)

12 Comments To "Pompeo’s Insulting North Korea Spin"

#1 Comment By KevinS On June 13, 2018 @ 1:54 pm

North Korea under KJU will never get rid of its nuclear weapons. I am taking all bets on this…..

#2 Comment By balconesfault On June 13, 2018 @ 2:01 pm

Agree with KevinS.

Kim wasn’t getting enough global attention, so he started launching some missiles.

Now he’s gotten more fawning, positive attention from the President of the US than he or his father/grandfather could have ever imagined. All without giving up a thing.

We paid for his Singapore vacation and all the accompanying lavish media coverage, right? What will we pay for next?

#3 Comment By standing in the shadows On June 13, 2018 @ 2:13 pm

Yes, the hypocrisy vis a vis the Iran deal is stunning. Trump pulled us out of the Iran deal for the same reasons people now question his N. Korea deal. A complete hypocrite and liar? No short term memory? Maybe both?

Who knows. Increasingly, I think, nobody cares either. We’re all preparing to wait him out. You can’t really deal with someone like Trump. Angela Merkel seems to be taking the right tack with him: stand back, hold your tongue, hope that others draw his attention and that he doesn’t randomly interest himself in anything that matters to you. Pray for massive losses in November. And for January 2021.

#4 Comment By Youknowho On June 13, 2018 @ 2:15 pm

Kim will get rid of his nukes.

All he needs is A Round Tuit.

#5 Comment By john On June 13, 2018 @ 3:36 pm

Hey if the administration wants to declare “victory” do an end zone dance and not start a war with NK, I am OK with that. The fact that nothing of substance (in an arms control sense) was achieved is immaterial. The “problem” with NK is a matter of political perception, we now decide it is not a threat to us well OK we have already decided that the UK, France, Israel, India, Pakistan (??) are not nuclear threats to us. Why not one more?

#6 Comment By Lenny On June 13, 2018 @ 5:25 pm

The message to Iran is : develop a nuclear weapon , then we will respect you

#7 Comment By TheSnark On June 13, 2018 @ 6:03 pm

If Trump does it, it is wonderful, and the best ever. If he says it, it is true, not to mention brilliant and insightful. Anything that contradicts the foregoing is false news.

#8 Comment By rayray On June 13, 2018 @ 8:14 pm

Pompeo will learn that even if you lie for Trump, even if you abase yourself for Trump, even if you turn in every last one of your principles for him, he will eventually turn on you and make you into a fool…if you’re lucky he fires you by tweet.

He stains and diminishes anyone he touches.

#9 Comment By WorkingClass On June 13, 2018 @ 8:45 pm

It took twenty months to negotiate the Iran deal. Lets give Trump ten months before we start complaining. The Korean War started sixty eight years ago. Trump and Kim have taken the first all important step toward ending it. I would like to see North and South Korea united and American troops repatriated. Even if the terrible awful no good Donald Trump get some of the credit.

#10 Comment By Jay C On June 14, 2018 @ 11:56 am

@ balconesfault:

What will we pay for next?

Well, according to The Donald, very little (since “cost-cutting” wrt Korea seems to have become one of his main “diplomatic” priorities).

I’ve always thought – from the beginning – that Trump’s “plan” for dealing with NK will involve the bulk of the monetary cost being put on (or attempted to be put on) the South Koreans: thus giving DT the double-barreled “win” of doing his “usual great deal” at little/no cost to himself.

Of course, there are numerous flaws in the “plan”, but, as Sec’y Pompeo makes clear, who are we to question Dear Leader…???

#11 Comment By Frank Lettucebee On June 14, 2018 @ 11:28 pm

Mr Larison continues to be you most insight columnist with the most incisive insight of the The American Conservative website.

“He must provide an inventory of all nuclear weapons and where they are hidden, surrender them all, dismantle his plutonium and uranium production plants, and shut down his testing sites, all under the watch of U.S.-approved inspectors.”

This is what the American people were told was required and nothing less.

NONE OF THIS was PROMISED by NK. All that was offered in return was a photo-op so that Mr Trump could spin as being worthy of getting a Nobel Prize.

Can you be given kudos for defusing a crisis that you started and kept alive for ratings.

There was never a chance of nuclear war. The crisis was created by Don Trump trying to be a tough guy and bully NK into being compliant and subservient. They refused to be either. Don Trump just kept raising the temperature of the rhetoric hoping the other side’s bully would blink first.

This summit was the American bully blinking first. America gave up military exercises with SK. NK believes it was given reassurances that the US will remove sanctions and the rest of the countries will fall in line.

The NK got what they wanted from the summit and to be able to string the US along. The US got what it has received many times: empty words and hollow gestures of promises that were never meant to be kept.

The reality show President got what he cares about: a great photo-op and a mesmerizing episode for his TV presidency.

If the Iran deal was the worst deal ever. What do you call the NK summit when it was a phony non-deal of no merit or substance. Like the Donald presidency, the all time worst ever on any planet.

#12 Comment By Robert D. Crane On June 16, 2018 @ 4:22 am

“Hold your fire until you can see the whites of their eyes”. This means give President Trump the benefit of the doubt about the success of Singapore until the Chinese prove in practice that it was merely a photo-op. In the meantime the U.S. and China should prepare to rebuild the North Korean economy together with South Korea. It also means, however, “Don’t count your chickens about Donald Trump’s Nobel Peace prize until the eggs have hatched”.