The president continues to misrepresent the results of the summit with North Korea:
I have confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake. We agreed to the denuclearization of North Korea. China, on the other hand, may be exerting negative pressure on a deal because of our posture on Chinese Trade-Hope Not!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2018
Trump’s confidence is not the least bit reassuring, since he then proceeds to mislead the public about what North Korea agreed to do and what was signed in Singapore. There was no contract, and North Korea committed to do nothing specific with respect to its nuclear weapons and missile programs. Kim did not agree to the “denuclearization of North Korea,” but did agree to “work toward” the denuclearization of the entire peninsula. Trump and Pompeo keep lying to the public that these are the same thing, but they aren’t. Pretending that they are the same thing doesn’t fool anyone, least of all the North Koreans. They know very well what they have and haven’t agreed to do. The only reason to claim that North Korea agreed to disarm when they haven’t is to create an excuse for accusing them of deception or being in breach of a “contract” they never signed.
I recently summed up the problem with the administration’s North Korea policy this way:
Our North Korea policy amounts to willfully misinterpreting the other side’s statements and then yelling, “No takebacks!” https://t.co/jfEjXXfWZs
— Daniel Larison (@DanielLarison) July 8, 2018
Trump’s accusation that China may be somehow responsible for what is happening is a weak effort to shift blame to anyone except himself, and it echoes the deranged rhetoric coming from Sen. Lindsey Graham. Yesterday Graham publicly threatened the North Korean government with assassination of its leadership:
“To our North Korean friends — can’t say the word friend yet — you asked Pompeo did he sleep well,” Graham said. “If you knew what I knew about what we could do to the leadership of North Korea, you wouldn’t sleep very well.”
Graham is a lunatic warmonger who is always saying absurd and alarming things, but we should bear in mind that on this issue he is also a close ally and confidant of the president. If Trump thinks that he has somehow been betrayed or cheated, he is much more likely to listen to the ravings of Graham and Bolton, and that would be disastrous for everyone. The danger here is that hard-liners in the administration exploit Trump’s delusions to make him think that he has been fleeced and urge him to abandon the diplomatic track all together.